Saturday, March 10, 2018

You. Are. Not. A. Fraud.

Little forewarning here, this post will be long. And personal. Since long and personal is kind of my jam, but I figured I'd warn you beforehand anyway just in case you're not in a long and personal kind of mood.

But I have things to say.

About what happens when you lose your shit.

A little over two years ago my life crumbled. My writing life. My personal life. My marriage. Almost everything exploded all at the same time. All the stability I'd built up over the last decade was gone, and I suddenly found myself stuck in Montana, with two kids, and a desperate need to move them and all of our things nearly a thousand miles by myself. As a freshly single mom, blindsided by a divorce I never saw coming. I didn't have a job. I didn't have a place to live.

And I most definitely didn't give a damn about writing.

This bubbling passion I had before, this NEED to do anything and everything to make that dream happen, just stopped. I moved, I stabilized my life, I bought a house and made it beautiful. I started over and rebuilt everything from scratch, and slowly but surely got rid of the chaos.

But I still wasn't writing.

There were inspirational stories-- all over Twitter, in blog posts, at conferences, in advice from friends-- filled with talk of slumps. Stories of how they stalled on a book for a WHOLE month. Sometimes longer. Talking about how they went a full year without writing, and then turned it around.

People LOVE a good comeback story. They like to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but to me, there was nothing more demoralizing than being stuck, and NOT writing, while the whole world tells you, "Don't worry, it'll pass soon."

Because I'd passed the month mark. And the six month mark. And the year mark. And then the two year mark, and it still hadn't let up.

I started to think it never would.

When you miss writing, when you feel like you have all these characters in your head, and they never come out, and your brain is about to explode with all the ideas you have stashed away up there, but you still can't bring yourself to write a damn thing? Soon is never soon enough.

I thought about writing every day. I avoided it every day. I wished I could shake whatever roadblock had erected itself in my path. Every. Single. Day. And I hoped that eventually I would, but the more time that passed, the less likely it seemed that I'd ever write another book.

That shaken feeling that derailed me in the first place just wouldn't go away. For some reason, moving two kids and two dogs several states, starting a new career, tackling single-momhood, all that was a cakewalk compared to facing the instability of publishing and the writing world in general.

I'd false start, and think I was good. I'd write two thousand words in a day and think MAYBE, MAYBE THIS IS FINALLY IT. MAYBE IT'S FINALLY OVER, and then fail again the next day, when I read over what I wrote and deleted it all. I started and restarted and restarted the same projects over and over again, and they never went anywhere. I failed on a regular basis.

But I kept trying.

And the point of ALL this rambling about how hard this all was, is to say that it's okay to take as long as you need to get back on your feet. No matter what it is that derails you. Life, family, mental health, publishing fears, the color of your living room. WHATEVER IT IS, you'll move past it in your own time.

Everyone gets stuck. Everyone. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for a month, and sometimes, if you're like me, three years.... and counting. Life is fucking hard sometimes. Writing is harder. And it's okay to lose your shit. It's okay if writing sits on the back burner for a little while. It's okay to rearrange your priorities a little bit, until your life sorts itself back out.

Because writing every day, isn't always doable. That saying about real writers being the ones that sit down and make the time to write? That saying left me feeling like a fraud for years. Because I was still calling myself a writer, and couldn't write anything.

Say it with me: You. Are. Not. A. Fraud. You're still a writer if you get blocked or derailed. You're not less of a writer if you have to take time off, or if you get an extended dose of writer's block. You're not less of yourself just because you're not producing pages.

It's okay to fail for a little while. It's okay to fail for a long while!

After all that time, I'm JUST NOW starting to feel like myself again. Like the writer I was before everything exploded into a fiery ball of life-suck. It's taken YEARS for me to get back up on my feet again, and start writing like I did pre-explosion.

So don't let anyone tell you that you're on a certain timeline. You'll get back to a good place when you're ready. You'll bust the writers block in your own time.

Don't sacrifice yourself for your word count. You're too important for that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pitch Wars Wishlist!

Hello lovelies!

It's Pitch Wars time again, and I'm so incredibly excited to meet all of you this round!

Maybe even as excited as I am to be co-mentoring with my lovely, talented, amazing friend, Katie Bucklein and fighting for all of those amazing Young Adult entries!
Look at us, bursting with excitement!
And if you're wondering, "What the heck is Pitch Wars?" or perhaps, "Co-mentoring for what?" then you might want to pop over to Brenda Drake's site to find some answers. ;-) 

Okay! Let's get into things. This is my second year mentoring, and last year was such a phenomenal experience that I've been counting down the days until I could do it again. AND I'm going to go ahead and say that we're pretty kickass mentors. If you want some proof though, you can ask my 2015 mentees, Isabel and Sheena, who are BOTH agented now. Same goes for Katie's mentee from last year.

So, I don't mean to brag here... but we're 3 for 3!

Oh who am I kidding, I'm totally bragging.
A little about me:

I'm a YA horror author represented by Mandy Hubbard at Emerald City Literary. On top of being a mentor and a writer, I'm a freelance editor with Wild Things Editing and a book coach at Author Accelerator... so fixing books, and cheering my clients on, is LITERALLY my job. 

I'm also the creator of the Cp Matchmaker (#CpMatch) Twitter party for finding CP's. (The next one is in August if you want to check back and get some fresh eyes on your WIP.) :-)

When I'm not writing or editing for my clients, I'm usually chipping away at my massive TBR pile, blasting music too loud, or searching Pinterest for DIY projects I don't have enough skill to complete. I love coffee shops, peonies, traveling, and shamelessly torturing my characters.
Oh, and I may have an unnatural obsession with Sherlock. 

I regret nothing.

Are you ready for the WISHLIST?

Above all else, we're really looking for the dark stuff. Whether that's your crazed serial killer novel, cannibalistic fantasy world, or gritty contemporary. Have something bright and shiny? Upbeat and happy? It's probably not for us.

We want everything dark, strange, magical and romantic!

The tone matters to us more than the genre. So if you have something with an undercurrent of danger, and death, and mayhem, we want to see it.

But, to get a little more specific, this is what we'd like to see by genre:


I LOVE LOVE horror. Love it. It's what I write, and it holds so much of that dark and terrifying stuff that both me and Katie drool over, but we're definitely not looking for your typical slasher horror. 

Give us your Gothic Horror, Southern Gothic, books about being trapped and hunted down, or sadistic carnivals or circuses. << ESPECIALLY THIS, PLEASE PLEASE GIVE US THIS?
And Katie's going to kill me if I don't stop talking about ghosts, but I'm seriously obsessing over ghosts lately, so if you have a super dark, really awesome ghost story that's super complicated and creepy, PLEASE give it to us? Please??


We're both really done with high/epic fantasy right now, so we'd like to see some of the lower, quieter fantasies this time around. Fantastical elements set in this world, or fantasy worlds where the world  itself isn't the focus, but the characters within the story. 

We'd kill for something like The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater or The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

We're looking for really dark themes, danger, gritty atmosphere, and complicated romances.

Historical/Alternative History- WITH MAGIC

We're not looking for any straight up historical this time around, but something more in the Historical Fantasy vein. Regency England, early 1900s, pirates. 
A magical, and nefarious twist on the Black Plague? Magic (and *cough cough* ghosts) on the Titanic? A creepy retelling of Pride and Prejudice or another classic? WWII with a demonic Nazi army? We want it! Basically anything historically focused, but with a creepy, fantastical twist!


We're probably going to be really picky about contemporary, but we'll never ever turn away from anything that has the right tone and undercurrents. We're not at all interested in the happy-go-lucky stories about a girl overcoming her older sister's shadow to have the "best prom ever." We don't want the fluff. We'll read the fluff for fun, but it's not something we're interested in working on for this round of Pitch Wars. 

We're looking for something a little more like If I Stay, by Gayle Forman. Life or death. Tough decisions. The kind of stuff that'll rip you apart and make you cry. We want that!

Other Wants

Killer friendships, hate-to-love romances, heartbreak, awesome family dynamics, strong characters, villains that you hate with a passion but would also kind of consider hooking up with? (a-la The Darkling or Moriarty from Sherlock.) Bad guys in general who are so committed to their mission that it's really clear they're the hero in their own story. Make us question which side is right and wrong. Make us cry, and laugh, and ache for what's happening on the page to stop, or happen again. Get into our heads and you'll have us hooked!


Please, no dystopian, science fiction, straight up thrillers, novels in verse, princesses, slasher stories, abusive relationships (whether in a romance or in a family dynamic) or vampires/werewolves/angels/any overdone mythological creature.

When in doubt, ask us though. Katie and I are both very active on Twitter.

But more than anything else, we really don't want anyone who's not ready to work. If you're not ready to make big changes, and pull things apart if need be, then please don't submit to us. We're here to help you make your book as fantastic as possible, and that sometimes means some major revisions. It's not our job to tell you everything is pretty and shiny and perfect. 

Working with us requires actual work. :-)

And why should you submit to us?

Well, on top of my experience as a freelance editor, and our KILLER history of getting our mentees agented, we're also total plot ninjas and brainstorming experts. If you have a problem that's killing the tension in your book, or slowing down the pace, if you're stuck on the ending, or how to get from Point A to B during revisions, have no fear. We can help. 

Katie's strengths are in line edits, action scenes, and world-building. (Among about a million other things! She is incredibly talented!) She's also one of the most honest people I've ever met in my life, so when she tells you that your book is amazing, you know you can shoo away the self-doubt trolls and believe her.

My strengths are definitely big picture problems, character emotion and stakes, and romance. ESPECIALLY romance. That's my jam, right there. It can be so difficult to take two characters through that progression from strangers (or friends!) to being in love without losing that spark of originality within that larger plot.

We're also great with pep talks. Going through these kinds of edits, where you're really digging into your manuscript and changing things can be really stressful. It's really important to have a team behind you that can help you out when you're feeling down. Katie and I are BOTH former Pitch Wars mentees. We've been there. We know how hard all of this can be, and we know what it's like to be on the other side of things.

Annnd, we have a fantastic plan for tackling your edits, so that you get the best of both our brains, and come out of this contest with the absolute BEST manuscript you can possibly have.

So I guess the real question is, why WOULDN'T you submit to us!?!

Check out the other mentors and their wish lists below, but FOR SURE, hop on over to Katie's blog to read her take on our list and find our team's scavenger hunt letter!

*** Side Note: Because I love Pitch Wars and the whole community within it, I want to be able to offer something to everyone who enters, as just a thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there. Writing is hard, and contests are hard too, so I'm also offering a 15% discount on ALL my editorial services at Wild Things Editing. Just mention Pitch Wars when booking.***

Good luck everyone!! We'll be cheering for you!