Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Own Neverland

When I was kid, I was really into the story of Peter Pan. I loved the book, the Disney movie, even the Broadway production where a blonde chick played Peter. But my favorite version had to be the early nineties cartoon show, Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates.
In this version, Wendy and her brothers live in Neverland for an unknown amount of time. Could be years, could be days and who knows when time is different in Neverland compared to here? This cartoon didn't only focus on Peter, Wendy and Hook but also on the other lesser-known pirates which was something new when it came to the Peter Pan legacy. The characters' appearances are different than most previous versions as well.

What I loved most about this show was that every day was a new adventure. There was danger, excitement and always a small lesson to be learned about friendship, though Peter himself rarely learned any real moral lessons. I loved that the Darling children never felt any pressing need to return to their parents and their previous life. They were enjoying all the splendors of Neverland for as long as they could. 

To this day I can recall a dream I had when I was about seven years old. I remember it in vivid detail. I was sitting in my second grade class, listening as I should, when suddenly from the open window, a ball of light flew in. Little red-headed Tinkerbell had flown all the way from Neverland to my classroom! And she was asking me to go back with her!
Of course, in my dream I was ecstatic and immediately left with her, teacher and classmates be damned. With a sprinkling of fairy dust, away we flew and man, was Neverland everything I knew it would be! All of the lost boys were there with Wendy and her brothers. Peter wasn't pleased at first that Tinkerbell had brought a strange girl without his permission but I went out of my way to prove my worth by fighting pirates and befriending the Indian tribe. 

Oh, the wonders of a child's mind where a simple dream can change a person's view of the world around them. When I woke from this dream I was so sad. Really, really sad. Because you see, I'd returned from a place where magic and games are an everyday occurrence, to a place where broken dreams were a reality. 
I was constantly bullied as a child. I awoke every day knowing that I would be told how ugly, stupid and useless I was. Nothing I said was right. Nothing I wore was cool. All of my friends were losers. Basically, everything about me was wrong. 
And adults just didn't seem to notice this bullying. If I complained, I was just being whiny and over dramatic. My tender little mind was having a really hard time with this. 

But once I dreamed such a lovely dream and woke up so sad, I soon told myself that it didn't really have to end. I could go back there whenever I wanted. And so, every night when I lay down and had trouble sleeping, I'd make up a story. I'd return to Neverland and be the first lost girl ever! (This was of course, long before they made that Return to Neverland movie with the annoyingly serious daughter of Wendy, Jane.)
This is when my first real stories began. I soon developed elaborate plots and great ongoing adventures with my Neverland friends. These make-believe bedtime tales went on for years but it was the next year, in my third grade class that I realized my calling. My teacher, Mrs. Baldree, told me that the stories I wrote for assignments were really good. "You could be a writer one day," she said.
I'm sure the old woman had no idea what that one sentence did for my little ego. Someone thought I was worth something! I was actually good at something! That was when I told myself that I would be a writer one day. 
But it took many years for me to really even begin writing anything. I didn't start writing poetry until seventh grade. Later, I began writing on a sweet little drama about children enjoying the wonder and freedom of playing outdoors all summer. And slowly over the years, I began to truly feel that calling deep inside me. It wasn't enough to want to write. No, you have to need to write.

Now here I am, published and with so much more left in my soul that it's nearly bursting with stories to share. I'm still not that great at storytelling. Oh, the stories themselves are great but my skills at telling them are still lacking. But I do hope that one day I will evolve into an accomplished writer who can be proud of every short story and piece of poetry that ever poured out of me.

And to this day, late at night when I have trouble sleeping, I return to Neverland and the simple joys of childhood. Nibs and I run through fields of wildflowers and chase fairies. Peter and I laugh and fly wildly at the pirates we harass for the sake of fun. Wendy smiles warmly at me as I tell her of my adventures. And not once do I worry about going home. 

I'm a writer. My imagination is home.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

New Story!

When I wrote IRISH SQUEEZE I intended it to be a one-time thing. But during the editing process with the publishing company, the editor made a suggestion I hadn't even considered. 

Put in a bit more detail about Melissa's brother just in case you want to do a sequel about him. 

The idea immediately appealed to me but I couldn't come up with a story about him. The more I tried to think about it, the more I rammed my head against a brick wall. So I did what I always do when this happens: I left it. Moved on to other things and had some successful writing there. This was over a year ago.

The other night right before sleep took me away to a lovely land of endless possibilities, I had a revelation. Suddenly, I knew exactly what Joey's story was! It hit me like a slap in the face and I struggled to memorize it before I dozed off. And luckily, I still remembered it all the next day. Nice!

I'm excited to get into this novel because though it will be an erotica, I think the story itself is a great one. The characters feel very real to me and their problems genuine. I've already got over a chapter into the rough draft and I haven't hit any roadblocks yet. 
Hope to have this one completed in a few months. It would be pretty awesome if I could get it published around the beginning of year, just like IRISH SQUEEZE was. I can't make any promises about that because life happens but I do believe this will be an easy story to write, even though getting it started took so long.

Writing a new story is always so exciting!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Wait

Of all the things that suck about being a writer (and believe me, there are many) I think what I hate most is waiting for a rejection letter. It's so nerve-racking that I tend to get seriously anxious about it. Overeating and everything. Okay, I always overeat but, more than usual!

Notice I said waiting for a rejection letter and not waiting for a letter that asks for your completed manuscript. Cause I've never received one of those from a literary agent. For those of you who don't know, I've only ever published through a small online publishing house.

But this time, for my "big, epic" novel that I've been working on for over six years now, I want to go through a big publishing house. So, it's search for an agent time! Yay! I seriously suck at self-promotion so my query letters always get rejected without a second glance. I'm just not good at summarizing. I don't know how to make my letter grab their attention without throwing my hands in the air and yelling "Hey! Look at me! My story is awesome-sauce!"

The wait though. Oh geez, it sucks. And worse is when you don't even get a response. Some agencies actually post on their site that they won't give a response if they aren't interested. Okay, I get that, you guys are busy. But those that say "Will respond in 4 to 6 weeks" and then you hear nothing back? Not cool. Especially when you query them again, a different agent of the same company even, because you think maybe it somehow got lost in the mail or went to their spam folder and you STILL never hear a word back. Not a damn peep. 
That's just not cool.

I'm not naming names but since 2008 I have queried multiple agencies on different works and have had ten "no responses". That's how I label them in my query notes. I guess that may not seem like a lot but at that time I would never query multiple agencies simultaneously so that was a long time of waiting and waiting before finally just moving on. Just thinking about all that wasted time makes me wanna go eat some ice cream.

I've queried two separate agencies recently; one in July and one a few days ago. I'm really hoping that I hear something back from at least one of them in the next two months. Meanwhile, I try to keep myself busy with kids, reading, TV, chores, other writing, gaming, etc. so I don't wring my hands. 
But checking my email everyday is awful.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Writing Advice

I once tried to join a local "writer's club" just to pick the brains of others and maybe not feel so alone in my craft. Turns out most of the writers were non-fiction. I write only fiction. The only other fiction writers and I got along okay but it wasn't all I thought it would be. 

I thought I'd make friends with like-minded individuals and we could maybe bounce ideas off each other, beta read for each other, talk about what we loved to read, that kind of stuff. But everyone was so different. Yeah, I was young and naive. Well, I was younger, I'm still pretty naive. 
They had different techniques, habits, opinions, etc. I think I made three meetings before I bailed. (It didn't help that they always wanted to meet in a small, crowded coffee shop where we had to practically yell to hear each other. Who the hell wants to yell out their short erotic story to strangers in public?)

My point is, people are different and writers are people too. You can't clump us all together. We think differently and we approach our writing differently. What works for one may not work for all. 
Our writing isn't all the same too. You can't compare me to Anne Rice because we both wrote some erotica. If I say I write fantasy, don't say "Oh, like The Lord of The Rings?" 
Uh, that is a fantasy, yes, but nothing at all like what I write. 

So when you give advice, remember that what works for some may not work for all. You might want to self-publish, I might prefer a publishing house. You might like to describe your characters in minute detail, I may leave more to the imagination. You might utilize all your social media outlets to promote your book and be very successful, I might do the same exact thing and be ignored. 

This is why I take all advice from publishers, editors and authors with a grain of salt. I listen, I consider it, then I decide if I should actually use it or not. Just because it worked for fifty other people does not mean it will work for me. I expect people to do the same with any advice I give because I am no expert. I only observe and report here, people. But I do the best I can.
Don't we all?