Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big "What I've Been Up To" Post

Last week, I said I’d write a post to let you know what I’ve been up to, and why you haven’t seen any original posts here for ages.

I wrote a book!

From July 2011 through November 2011, I wrote a 500 page (double spaced), contemporary romance.  
Not just a stack of paper.  I swear!

I worked my hiney off for several hours per day for four months.  I wore myself down, and in November I got a cold...and then strep.  Then, during Christmas week of 2011, I got food poisoning, or some kind of grody stomach virus and ended up in the hospital with an IV on Christmas night.  The only time I've been in more pain was when I was in labor.
Cell phone picture. Don't know why I was smiling, I was in pain.  Handy Man took it, saying "For the blog."  Good boy.
January 2012, I took some time to recover, and started studying: writing books, online writing classes.  I read, and I read, and I read some more.

February 2012 Found the New England chapter of the Romance Writers of America, signed up for their April Conference.  Also signed up for a ten page critique from an editor or agent.

March 2012: Rewrote my first ten pages. Found out I had to submit a one page query letter that "pitches" the book.  Also found out the critique was really an appointment: I'd be meeting with an agent or editor, she'd pass back my ten pages with comments, and I had to verbally pitch my book to her.

April 2012: Panic ensues.  Thought I was just getting a critique.  Book was finished, but I wasn't ready to "present" my book for sale. 

Late April, 2012.  I went to the writing conference for the weekend.  I don't know anyone.  It was held in Salem, Massachussets.  So. Much. Fun!
  • Attended several workshops and learned how much I don't know about writing.
  • Had an appointment with a psychic, who told me really specific things about my past.  Very interesting.
  • Had my eight minute appointment with an editor.  She gave me great feedback, and asked to see the full manuscript. :-O
  • Won two prizes, and I never win prizes.
  • Met some great writers in all stages of a writing career: Writers who hadn't finished their first book; writers who win contests; writers who speak at conferences and get on national best seller lists.
  • Came home with loads of free books, including several signed books. 
  • Met some best selling romance authors in person, and I had no idea who they were before that weekend.
  • Went on a ghost hunt on Saturday night around Salem.
  • Had a thirty minute session with Michael Hauge, a story and script consultant, who works with writers and filmmakers.  He diagnosed problems with my book and gave some suggestions.
  • Came home, took three hours to recount the experience to Handy Man, put on my jammies, slept really hard that night, and walked around in a daze for the next two weeks.
Jammie time after one of the most surreal weekends of my life.
Some other things that happened in 2012:
  • Dove back into into reading. I read 58 books in 2012.  Most were fiction, some were writing books.
  • Learned just how much grammar I've forgotten over the years.
  • Found out that blog writing and novel writing does not = the same thing.
  • Emailed, Tweeted and Facebook'd (are those verbs now?) with other writers I met at the conference.  Met some great people, formed relationships with them online.  At this year's conference, I'll know some people!
  • Entered a writing contest, received great feedback.
  •  Changed my occupation to “writer” on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Guess it's official now. 
  • Watched people sneer when I mention my book is a romance.  I've read different statistics, but over 60% of books sold are romance, so someone's reading these books...
  • Listened to people snicker and ask if my book is "like Fifty Shades of Grey?" No.  It's not.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  I'm not kidding, people ask that all the time.
  • Found out that people have very strange ideas about writers.  Especially romance writers. 
  • Continued to learn about the business of book publishing.  It’s tough out there. REAL tough.  I wasn't prepared for the pitch meeting, or for the request for my full manuscript. 
  • Studied, studied, and studied some more: online classes and writing books.
  • Started to rewrite the book.  From the beginning.
  • Tried not to give a smart-ass remark when people asked me “Is it finished yet?”  This is going to take some time.  A long time. And that's okay.  One page at a time.  One paragraph at a time. 
  • I now live in constant fear of typos and poor grammar on social media. 
  • People ask all the time if they can read my book.  The answer  Handy Man hasn't even read the whole thing.  Here's the thing: It's a mess.  When I say this, people say "Pshaw.  I'm sure it's great! I still want to read it!"
  • I know people are excited for me, and I love that.  I know they're interested; if a friend told me she wrote a book, I'd want to see it, too.  But many first novels never see the light of day.  It's practice, and it really shows.  I polished and polished the first ten pages, but it's just not ready for public consumption.  It may never be ready.  Remember, I had no idea what I was doing.
  • I'm so overwhelmed that sometimes I don't know what to do next.  But I do something with my book every day. 
If any of you want to write a book, DO IT!  I have the attention span of a gnat, and I did it.  Give it a try.  Is it going to suck? Probably. But write it anyway.  You don't have to show it to anyone, no matter how much they ask, lol!  Rewrite it, or stick it in a drawer and write another one. 
Handy Man has been so supportive.  When I called him from the conference and said "ohmygod she asked for the whole thing...AND I won two prizes!", there was silence on the line.  I made my chatty husband speechless.  Calling Handy Man, then my brother and parents with the news was the best feeling ever.  I should probably be more descriptive about my call to Handy Man, but I'm tired and of course I'm editing this past midnight... 

Things have been so busy over the past year.  I've thought about writing this blog post for all of you, my blog readers, so many times.  Thought this would be a fun post for our 100th link party. 
I've really enjoyed writing DIY posts for this blog, and I thought I could write one original post a week in addition to the blog party.  However, I couldn't keep up.  But I kept up with the blog party, and lots of you kept coming to submit projects, look at projects, and leave comments.

Thank you for coming back for our party each week.  And, thanks for reading!

See you soon for our 100th Wicked Awesome Wednesday!


~~~jennifer~~~ said...

Congrats on the book!!! My aunt has wrote a number of books for Harlequin Blaze & they are slightly steamy. I know she got fed up with all the assumptions about her personal life & people would ask her rude questions. I guess it comes with the type of novel it is. Let people sneer at the idea of writing a romance novel. Obviously many people read & enjoy them. And, you should be proud of your success. Congrats, again!

Pink Overalls said...

What a fascinating story about... a story! I commend you for this undertaking. It's an inspiration to the rest of us to follow our dreams, and just jump in no matter what people think or how difficult it seems.

I hope your book gets published. With so much determination and talent on your end, it's bound to be received enthusiastically!

Katie B said...

Oh my goodness, what a year you've had! Congratulations on finishing your book in the midst of all of that. I'm looking forward to the post where you're celebrating its publication!

Julia said...

Good for you! Loved hearing all you've been up to. I attended an RWA conference once and it was a blast. Best of luck with your book--you'll have to keep us posted! :)

Bella said...

Good for you sweetheart, that is a big accomplishment, even if it's not "finished". I can't even imagine all the hours and sweat that went into it. I don't blame you one bit for not blogging as much.

Shoot, I didn't write a book, and have been mia from my blog pretty much for a year now, on and off, so at least you have a rally valid excuse, lol.

How exciting, overall. I hope you do get published, I mean isn't that the end goal for every writer. I can't imagine you put that much energy into this, just to shove it into a drawer, without anyone else ever setting eyes on it.

GREAT job, and hopefully soon we'll get an update on where we can buy your steamy romance novel. Please tell me does it have vampires in it, jk,,, not really, kind of, haha.

Have a wonderful day, and stop by anytime to say hello if you can.
P.s. After coming back from an extended blogging break, I've started a 40 day challenge to get HEALTHY by my birthday. If you get a chance to check it out, I could sure use the support!
Hugs, Bella :)
Bella's 40 Day Challenge

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