Oh Look, The Jealous Factor Creeping In

Oh lord, there it is. You are reading along in a blog then you come across a comment, or something that tells you that another person is a writer trying to get published. And in that instant, boom! You have the green eyed lady smacking you in the face and making you see, well, green. You know this has all happened to you, right? The jealous factor that you have more competition. It isn’t enough that you have your own neurosis to deal with, but now you have that added pressure that someone else might get published before you do. And it’s even worse if you see that they are trying to get an agent, a publisher, a query letter, in your field of writing. For that split second you want to dash their dreams into the ground because, hey, writing is a cutthroat world and YOU want to be published first.

Image by citris blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had this happen to me the other day and I almost screamed for that one moment when I realized I was just one of tons of people trying to publish and I’m not putting in the every day work required to do this. I’m blaming several bloggers I follow, who’s general writings are putting pressure on me. It’s all your fault, people that have ambitions.

Ironically, I just started reading a post by J. Sander of Don’t Delete Me, about our day jobs and wishing our day jobs were writing jobs. First thing tackled is about how you are just one person and there are millions out there that are doing the same thing as you. Gasp, hold on while I take a moment to breathe. BREATHE! That can make anyone panic. Does it make you panic and think you might as well give up now? It makes me for a flash moment.

I even panicked today when I was reading Cassandra Clare’s bio and realizing that I will never, let me stress, NEVER, be that good. (I know, I’m already self destroying myself) Along with the panic was to work on my cover letter, but still, I am constantly panicking that I will never be good enough, that I will always be striving for the impossible, that I might as well give up now. There is the drive to succeed, and the fear of falling flat on my face. I think the fear is more 80% instead of a more level number. (it shouldn’t be that high, should it?)

And there is the constant jealousy that while I’m super happy for anyone that can be published, I also want them to fall flat on their face and make way for me to be published. It’s sick and twisted.

But I bet I’m not the only one, am I?

So, how often do you feel the green lady’s gaze clouding your judgement? Do you get panicked and want to just throw in the towel? D

Signing off

Kate

Agent Query Cover Letters

So, I have a question for anyone who has considered submitting to a literary agency or has submitted.  Have you ever written a cover letter instead of a query letter?

I’m working on one for the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, and I’m just not quite sure about it. I was wondering if anyone has some advice about typing one of these up.  I’ve got the synopsis down pretty good, I hope (gutting some of my query letter) but it’s mostly the bio I’m struggling with. I mean, I have not published a thing, anywhere! How does this sound to everyone?

I wrote Lulu Buys a Hat after my own experiences hunting for a good hat that wasn’t too expensive and looked just right. It took several shops, and a best friend in tow, to find the best hat in an area where hats are not a common thing.  When I am not writing picture books, I write weekly on my own WordPress blog, entitled Kate’s Bookshelf.  I was referred to your agency via the Writing and Illustrating blog, run by Kathy Temean.

Jazzy enough?   Yep, I am relying on you readers for some help. You’ve been great in the past and I am SOOOOOOOO nervous I’m going to do the wrong thing. I’ve only queried two agencies in the past.  So, any help you want to share would be great.

Alright bloggers. Have a marvelous Wednesday evening! I’m off to pick some jostaberries. Yes, that is a real thing. Ah, farm life. I wish it was more of a writing life (by which I mean published author writing life)

Signing off

Kate

Hey you, did you know I am writing about you?

Hey you! Yes you. No, not you reading this blog, I’m talking to the people who I base my characters off of. Colin O’Donoghue, did you know you are my lead male in a romance I’m writing?  Martin Freeman, did you know you are part of the love triangle that involves Colin?  (FYI, you don’t win, sorry) Tyler Hubbard of FGL, you are a lead male too.  Ladies? You are all models from clothing catalogs I love. You wear fashion like there’s no tomorrow.

What am I getting at here?  I’m talking about having a model for my characters I write about. Just recently I’ve added two to my list of people for characters. The interesting thing is, as you can see from my above list, all my characters are not ‘real’ people. By that I mean, they are actors and not someone I interact with on a regular daily basis. The newest edition to this list is the singer Mika. I first heard about him when I found his song “Big Girl (You are Beautiful)”, then he wore this most glamorous dark blue velvet suit on Dancing With The Stars singing “Popular” with Ariana Grande. That right there kind of cinched it. (I really thought he looked quite cute in that blue suit). And recently I’ve just taken to listening to more of his music and I really like it.

And I need to have him as one of my characters! I can so see him being this super cool best friend to one of my gals. Like Phaedra who lives in SanFran and is a photographer. Or Mia who works in a book store. Or Kate (who is not me and I had her as Alyssa but I don’t like that name so she’s back to ‘Kate’ till I can come up with something better) who is a hotel manager’s personal assistant.  I just need to use him.

So, while all of my character models listed are not people I know, I do have to add that I just told writer Shawn Bird  that I just have to base a character off of her. Check out her blog and look at that super cool, edgy picture she has! I love her hair! That blond, blue and purple  is just rocker chic and I just know that I could come up with something great about that, right? The thing about this, Shawn wrote back and said “That’s funny. I’m used to turning people into characters, not to be turned into one myself! ;-)”shawn bird tweetWow, I’d never thought about how strange it would be know someone was basing a character after you. I don’t know of anyone who would write about me, and I wonder if I would want to know? I had never thought about this because I’m always ‘borrowing’ people from life for my novels. We’ve all done it right?

Well, I have two other people in my life that I have as characters. Calvin, my first crush when I was 5 and my ideal ‘man’ for years, is the hero of “Kate’s” book.  Then there is Mimi. Mimi has become Coco in my Phaedra novel. She is this voluptuous, sassy, curvaceous, redhead that owns a flower shop and she’s just super cool. Hey Mim’s, did you know you were a character? Well you do now!

So, while I stick with mostly famous people, watch out, bloggers. Someday I just might write about you.

Okay, so readers, do you use people in your life as character models? Do you stick with famous people or do you write about that somebody you saw at the coffee shop or bookstore, or market? How do you get your characters?

I really want to know. So comment below and I can’t wait to see how you create your characters.

Signing off

Kate

How Did I Not Know About The Writer’s Almanac?

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you like poetry? Do you enjoy random bits of history about writers? Poets? Things in history?  Do you just adore listening to Garrison Keillor? Do you want a daily audio update about all these things?

Well, you’ve come to the right place to direct you t an even better place. I have discovered The Writer’s Almanac. And what is this, you ask me? Why it’s a marvelous little daily podcast hosted by the most marvelous and talented Garrison Keillor.  Every day Mr. Keillor reads the birthday of one or two famous authors/writers, a bit of history for the date, and lastly a poem. Done in his marvelous voice it can be soothing or just the thing to hear in the morning, taking no more than just five minutes, it’s about the time it takes to get fully dressed, or for you women out there, maybe get half your makeup on.  It’s charming and informative, and well come on. It’s Garrison Keillor and how can you go wrong.the writer's almanacSupported by The Poetry Foundation, it’s a marvelous little thing.

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La...

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How did I find out about this? Surprisingly enough, Wikipedia when was reading about Billy Collins, poet, who has become my favorite modern poet. Within the article about him, it was mentioned that he co-hosted The Writer’s Almanac for the summer of 2013. Well, I just had to find out about it and wow, I’m so excited.

So, I urge you to check it out. It’s quick and fun, and well, we could all use a smidge of literary in our daily lives.

Signing off

Kate

Icy Writing Prompt

This has got to be the best prompt I’ve ever heard. Well maybe not iciclebest, but pretty incredible.

I was talking to an older woman who’s a semi friend today and she was mentioning she and her late husband used to winter at their cabin in the mountains. Every evening they would have their cocktail hour and he would mix up drinks. He loved to go outside and break off an icicle to stir the drinks with to chill them.

Isn’t that great? And icicle cocktail stirrer and chiller.  I love it and I had to share.  Now, people, run with it!  I want to see Flash Fiction, short stories, or a blurb or something with this.  Please, pretty please.  :)  I know you all can come up with something great.

Link back to me so I can read them all. I might come up with something myself too!

Signing off

Kate

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Reading Classics to Learn About Character Development, and Please Don’t Say We Don’t Need Them

Disclaimer: This may irritate or annoy younger writers. Proceed only if you want to hear my honest opinion.

I started this morning off reading a reaction post to The Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters.  See the original article for this story HERE  I was actually quite fascinated with the list and could understand why many were put on this list, specifically, and I stress this, because it was done by the British.  They have their own tastes and ideas and it was a decidedly British list.

What struck me was the reactionary post.  It was written by a blog I follow, from a young author  and I won’t name names because I’m not out to irritate people, but this thought came to me.  How can you give honest criticism about why certain characters are not on the list, if you have not read most of what is on the list? How can you judge whether or not a character from a book you like should be on the list just because you think the character is haunting?

First off, let’s take the word Haunting.

:  that haunts: such as

a :  lingering in the consciousness :  not readily forgotten <the cathedral organ and the distant voices have a beauty — Claudia Cassidy>

b :  having a disquieting effect :  disturbing <from two handsome and talented young men to two horrors of disintegration — Charles Lee>

Let’s take the second definition.  We are not talking villains exactly. Because while Mr. Rochester could be described as the antagonist in the story of Jane Eyre, he is not exactly that.  Nor is Caliban the villain in The Tempest. These characters have a more in depth point to the story. It’s not merely good or bad, but technically grey.  They are not Good vs. Evil.
That being said, some of the characters on the list are evil, but not necessarily so. The word definition is crucial here.
So where am I going with all of this?
I’m finding that younger writers who have not read a lot of classics, nor have they lived unique lives, don’t have a grasp of what makes a character evil, haunting, disturbed, manipulative, psychotic, complicated or whatever adjective you want to address a character. If you have lived within the sheltered pages of life going from high school to college and that is it for your age, really, you have not lived.  And if you haven’t read the classics, or at least a couple of them, I don’t think you have a grasp on some really good character development.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have not read a ton of classics, but at age 13 I read The Three Musketeers and from there on, I’ve attempted to tackle more in depth books.  Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Scaramouche, Jane Eyre (though I have not finished it yet, but saw the film), The Great Gatsby… I’m blanking on others.  But in the past 10 years, I have learned a lot, and I stress LOT, by reading those types of books. You learn that characters are complicated. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, but there is something about a character that is thought provoking. Heck, even Mr. Darcy could have been considered haunting. (not really, but guys need to read P&P to understand why women adore Darcy….though there is Mr. Knightley…)

I don’t see how anyone can really write without reading some of the more famous works. I never thought I would say that you need to read the classics.  My father would kind of shoot me, but I honestly think you need to read some to get even the slightest grasp on character development and depth.  And if you haven’t read most of the classics, don’t even try to complain about why Voldomort is not on a list but Heathcliff is.  Don’t even go there.

And Haunting doesn’t mean evil.  People, remember that!

Side Disclaimer: I have not nor will not ever read A Clockwork Orange, anything Stephen King or anything really disturbing.

 

Whew! Now that I’m done ranting, I want your input. Are you someone who thinks you need the classics?  Do you think I’m off my rocker?  How do you get your character development? And what do you think of the list of Haunting Male Characters?

Signing off

Kate

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Utter Crap

the persephone bookshop

the persephone bookshop (Photo credit: this lyre lark)

I probably should be writing this over on Escaping the Inkwell, but I’m going to be utterly lazy since this post is about utter crap. Seems befitting. Though I feel I should say ‘utter rubbish’ instead as it’s so much more polite and I’ve been reading British things. (How did I not know that Persephone Biannually was so interesting? I have about 8 different ones!)

Moving on.  So last week I ‘finished’ my short story about jars of hearts, lipstick, et cetera. See the post here.  I was so wired to finish it and for those first few hours, even though I knew that it was going to need serious editing,  I was quite thrilled with it.

Then the reality set in. Or maybe it’s writer’s reality, or whatever you want to call it.  Anyways, there I was the next morning going, “this thing is terrible! it’s crap. There is no way I could ever hope to submit this to a literary magazine (because yes, I am considering it). I should just toss the whole thing in the garbage and start over.”

Never mind that I wrote the whole thing out longhand with purple ink (new fountain pen and ink. If I have the inclination I shall write a review on the Lamy Vista which has become a favorite pen!) Never mind that I have told my sister she can read it when I’m done.  Never mind that I was quite hopeful of it.

Now is it really that horrible?  Honestly, I don’t know because I’m looking at it through my eyes. No doubt it needs a lot of work.  Heck, in just the first two paragraphs I have already added a bunch of things I left out. Meaning I started typing it up to have a more readable copy and started editing in the process.  I’m sure it will be fine. (Repeat again and again, self) I’m sure my friend will enjoy it if I ever get it typed up and edited before having her take a looksie.  But my own self doubt.

I just read something in my Bianually about the author Dorothy Whipple how she thought that her novel Greenbanks was never going to amount to anything then low and behold it became a best seller and is now being sold by Persephone Books.  I’m not saying I’m a Dorothy Whipple (whom I must confess that I’ve never read any of her books) but self doubt is high.

I am still going to work on the darn thing. It really needs a title.  I want a bit of horror in the story (because it is a bit like horror in some ways) Not the creepy kind, but just a life type horror.  Once I’m willing to share you will see.

But for now I feel that it is utter crap!  Why am I a writer?

Signing off

~Kate

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Lipstick, the Devil, and Jars of Hearts

I will never understand my brain, but sometimes something that I hear or see help combine thoughts into one congealed story. This is one of those times.

For ages I’ve been playing around with a story plot that uses Christina Perri‘s ‘Jar of

Jar of Hearts

Jar of Hearts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hearts‘ as a basis.  I love the song and the tragedy behind it, but I just could not come up with something until just this last week when I was listening to Jason Derulo‘s “Talk Dirty” (Clean version! I will post my rant on the explicit version later), and the one line about ‘lipstick stamps in my passport, think I need a new one,” just fit perfect with “Jar of Hearts”.

Then I ran across this post on Tumblr that made me laugh and go, oooh, I could use that too.

From alchemistc

why does everyone always associate satan with heavy metal

for all we know satan could like smooth jazz

Why does everyone associate satan to look like some horned goat-typed devil when in reality he’s probably a handsome gentleman in a full body suit who tips his hat at men and women.

 

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/2b/32/67/2b32679f8be1e8791d99e8172a964fe5.jpgSo we have lipstick stamps, a devil in a three piece suit who is a gentleman, and jars of hearts.  Come on, you can just imagine the fun I’m having with this, can’t you? Well I am. I have a short story piece I’m working on and when I finish it, I will post hit here for you to all stare in wonder at my brilliant feat.  Or maybe just because I like sharing things I write. :)

 

 

Writing On

~Kate

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A Writer’s Film

The-Magic-Of-Belle-Isle-Morgan-Freeman1Often, I keep track of films I watch that have a serious writer’s theme to the storyline.  Most recently it was The Magic of Belle Isle staring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen. First off, I highly recommend this to any writer.  It’s a charming look at how imagination can and is a part of our lives, along with the story of a struggling writer. Plus it ends well and is a charming, charming story.

f03e818295b65975c3f4c94054b4314dOne of the things that got to me most about the film was the relationship Morgan Freeman’s character, Monte, has with his typewriter. At the start of the film he says “She’s a black-hearted whore, and I’m done with her.” Slowly, with the pushing of nine year old Finnegan O’Neil, he starts to write again and by the end of the film, you know he is back in sync with the machine.  There is a line where Finnegan asks Monte why he doesn’t use a computer.

Monte’s response. “I’m going to answer your question in return for blessed silence. Look at that machine. I like that you have to write a bit slower on a manual, I like the way it sounds, I like the way the letters bite into the paper, I like that you can feel as a genuine human being doing the work.”

Sometimes I forget the magic of using my typewriter. I haven’t had the inclination to pull out the Royal (he/she needs a good name instead of just Royal unless I want to envision Royal Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie series).  I actually haven’t had the inclination to do a lot of writing to tell you the truth.  However, whenever I see typewritten words or poems I just inwardly sigh in happiness. When I see someone using a typewriter I want to hug them. And when I see the love of a typewriter expressed in a film, it just makes me want to write to the screenwriter and thank them for making my day.  It doesn’t happen often, because honestly, there are not that many writer-esque films. So when I do see one, I pay attention.

1002004004848400Another film that made me want to start using my Royal (somebody help me name the darn machine) was Shadows in the Sun staring Joshua Jackson and Harvey Keitel.  Along the same lines as Monte, a line by Harvey Keitel’s character says Weldon Parish: “Typewriters make you think about the words you choose more carefully, because you can’t erase them with the push of a button. ”   (side note: great ideas, very cheesy film)

For some reason, even though I know all of this it’s nice to hear it in a film, or a book, or some random post. Little writer’s reminders are nice.

liberal_arts_2012Lastly, just because we are on the subject of writer’s films, I want to mention a new film that I HIGHLY recommend along with The Magic of Belle Isle.  This film is an independent film by actor Josh Radnor titled Liberal Arts.  I won’t go into a description because you can read about online everywhere. Just watch it.  If you love inspiration from all around, classical music, good humor, humor on life and college, and just an all around good feeling when you get done with a movie, then you need to see this.  It’s charming and you just want to meet Josh Radnor when you get done, especially since he wrote, directed and starred in the film.  So so very good.

One last thought.  I think the typewriter used in The Magic of Belle Isle was an Underwood.  I had the opportunity of having my grandfather’s machine, but it didn’t work and he ended up finding someone that liked those kind.  While I still wouldn’t really want one, man, those have got to be one of the coolest looking typewriters around.

Signing off

~Kate

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Truer Words Couldn’t Be Spoken

 Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2014 Getty Images – Image courtesy gettyimages.com

Photo by Kevin Winter – © 2014 Getty Images – Image courtesy gettyimages.com

The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine addled, crippled by procrastination, and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.  ~Robert DeNiro via the 86th Academy Awards teleprompter

Now, the really question is, how many good days are there for a writer? I caught this marvelous quote right way the other night while watching the Oscars, and I’m not the only other person who latched onto this statement. Type it into Bing and you will get several blog post pop up with this same quote used as the topic of Monday’s posts. It is a truly powerful statement in regards to writers.

In fact this statement is so true that you know only a writer wrote it for Robert DeNiro to say.  My mother stared at me and at the television, her jaw dropping  because it is so true in regards to me. I have actually been mulling over a post regarding the real issue of being a writer is because of our own fears. So this is apropos. What keeps us from writing are those moments of procrastination, panic, and self-loathing. We drink coffee or tea like fiends , and often we don’t have good days.

Unless you are talking to another writer, you definitely feel complete and utter isolation. Desolation. Non-writers do not understand what is going through our heads and there is no point in trying to explain. Non-writers stare at you, a blank expression on their face, and that’s when you know you are neurotic because obviously it only makes sense to us.

We fail to send in our manuscripts and query letters because we are ‘crippled by procrastination’ and dealing with ‘soul crushing inadequacy.’  “I’ll never be able to write like ____________[FILL IN THE BLANK].

Then there we are at two in the morning pounding out this idea that CANNOT wait till daylight, our eyes heavy and dark. WE wake to circles under the eyes from lack of sleep, staggering to the coffee pot before we are even lucid, only to look over what we had written in the dark and think to ourselves, ‘Utter crap!’

Rewriting over and over, tweaking even after it’s ‘done’ and ready to be sent off to editors, agents, or publishers. It will never be perfect. Twenty years in print and we will still want to change something that everyone else is perfectly fine with. We are never satisfied.

Even this post will be tweaked before the “publish” button is clicked, and three days from now I will want to change something.  (I wrote this yesterday in ink; I’m typing it now; and I’ve already changed a couple things)

The mind of a writer is a terrifying thing. What is going on in there leads to nightmares and moments when you space out trying to solve some plot twist. Random scraps of notes that are all gibberish to the ordinary person, but are pure gold to the author, frequent our lives and flat surfaces. We fill our notebooks with random odd sayings and pieces of conversation that we just might use someday, in some book that has yet to be written. We hoard our dictionaries and thesauruses. We keep books for varies pieces we like that we might include in a passage here or there.

And those are the good days.

Bad days are more frequent, in my opinion, and lead to giving up saying you’ll never write again. Days you want to rip up every typed page or shut down your blog because, hey, you’ll never write again. Depression where you are in such a funk that every living thing avoids you. The bad days feel like the depths of despair and there is no light at the end of the tunnels.

Oh, but we are writers, and it’s a wondrous thing.

Signing off

~Kate