Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writing is a Journey

Over Thanksgiving week I had a chance to visit one of my favorite places: New York City. I used to live there ages ago, and even when I visited the first time, it felt like coming home. There's something about the city that's energizing and inspiring. I can't figure out what it is, but there's a reason so many songs talk about making your dreams come true in New York. Because really, when you're on the street surrounded by all that activity and creativity, it makes sense that you can conquer the world.

This is part of the reason I based my novel THE SHIFTING DARKNESS in New York City. It's a place where anything can happen. Down in the subway tunnel it's easy to wonder what's lurking in the shadows beyond the reach of the platform lights. Another more practical reason that I used it for my main setting is because I lived there and I was familiar with the locations I wanted to use. All except one of them.

Ellis Island is a key location in my book that I had never had the opportunity to visit. I really wanted to make it a point to get there on this latest trip. My husband booked us a room with a spectacular (albiet rainy) view!

I was so excited as soon as I looked out the window and spotted Ellis Island. I mean, all I had to do was peer out and see everything I'd studied so hard on Google maps. It was thrilling to see how much I got right. All I could do was sit there and stare as my characters came to life and watch as the events of my novel unfolded in my mind. 
“You are aware my labs on Ellis Island house the most renowned medical research facility in the country,” Alexander Lake continued.

Sidney made her way over to the huge window. The sun had set awhile ago and the buildings at the lower tip of Manhattan twinkled in the false twilight that always hovered around the city.
“Lovely, isn’t it? Mr. Lake is very proud of the view.”

“Get down!” Someone shoved her. The air hit hard and suddenly all she could hear was a high pitched ringing. She lay there on her back, staring up at the sky, thinking how pretty the smoke looked as it swirled up around the water tower in the middle of the courtyard.
In case you were wondering, that's just a hint of what it's like to be me. 

All I wanted to do was get down there and go exploring. From where we were staying, it seemed as though we could walk down to a footbridge and cross over into Liberty State Park, then catch a boat to Ellis Island.

The path didn't turn out to be very direct. Not even close. We had to go around a marina, through parking lots, past construction sites, and there were PLENTY of times we thought about turning around. 

But just when we thought we were at a complete dead end and we'd have to give up, we took a few more steps or peeked around a corner. Sure enough, we discovered a path to take us a little bit closer. Once we made it to the footbridge it was easy sailing. But getting there? It wasn't easy at all, and a couple of times it was even kind of scary. 

Now I'm going to get all deep and metaphorical, and compare this to my writing journey. 

Wait for it, I swear it makes sense. 

I've hit places I thought for sure would be a dead end. I've had rejections and set backs. A lot of times I felt like this whole writing thing was as pointless as... 

But I'm still going. Because, every time it felt like maybe this was it, maybe I was done for good... something else has opened up. It might have been an opportunity I didn't expect or see before, but it's always given me fresh hope and one more reason to keep going.

Right before I left for New York (as I was packing, in fact), I had another setback. A pretty devastating one. But a few days later... I entered Pitch Wars and I got chosen as a first alternate! So it just goes to show that you have to keep trying. 

If you want something to happen, you have to be prepared. You have to do everything in your power to be ready when good things come knocking, because you really just don't know what your path to publication might be.

How about you? Have you ever felt like quitting? What helps keeps you motivated?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pitch Wars: About Me

Hey Y'all! I applied to do Pitch Wars this year! Since everyone else is doing it, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and share a little bit about myself in case you're looking for someone super awesome to mentor.

Instead of TELLING you how awesome I am, I figured I'd SHOW you, because I'm a good little Creative Writer.

I graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.

After graduation I moved to Atlanta where I got a job herding cats teaching preschool, and writing in my spare time.

My husband worked for the Atlanta Falcons, so I attended a bunch of NFL games and fed elephants with Matt Ryan.

(I know it's hard to see him in this pic, but that's his #2 right there behind the tree. I swear I wasn't being a stalker and hiding in the bushes. As you can see, Freddie Falcon and I are BFFs, so it's totally legit)

I have an annoying obsession totally healthy relationship with gifs. I mean, I love them like

For reals, they make me all 


and sometimes I need to express them. So this is why I think gifs are

When I'm not hanging out on twitter, I enjoy spending time as an advocate for human-zombie relations.

And occasionally, I act as an ambassador on diplomatic missions throughout the intergalactic empire.

If you need any rum smuggled, I've got connections.

I don't really like to brag, but I've met some pretty famous people in my life, including but not limited to:

John Goodman
Regis Philbin
Barbara Walters
Liv Schriber
Johnny Knoxville
Hugh Jackman
Bryan Cranston
and Elvis.

I'm also super addicted to book signings, because I think it's fun to support fellow writers, and also to be able to meet my heroes and tell them how awesome they are. So here I am with some amazing writers I've met either at a signing or out in the wild:

Megan Orsini, Megan Whitmer, Angi Black

Another thing I really love to do is travel. I lived in Wales for a semester in college. I've also visited France where I saw the Mona Lisa and met Quasimodo.

And there was that one time when I was visiting my brother in Wisconsin and had an encounter with a Hodag.

Oh, and I met Jaws too, but that didn't go so well...

When I moved from Georgia to California, my friends were concerned I'd turn into a tree hugging hippie, but that hasn't happened. At all.

Out of all the crazy activities in my life, my favorite thing to do is write. The X-Files was a huge influence in my life, so I really enjoy creating stories with a good murder (or 12) and some kind of paranormal element.

Scully and Beckett are my heroes (heroines?), so every story I write needs to have a tough chick who can hold her own against whatever she might encounter.

This past year, I've spent revising my manuscript THE SHIFTING DARKNESS. It's been torn apart and put back together, so you should know that it's in really good shape and I'm also not afraid to beat my own words into submission.

And if ALL OF THAT didn't convince you how how badly you need me as your mentee for Pitch Wars? Maybe my gangsta friend Kelsey Macke can do it... watch here. I'll wait.

Isn't she bad ass?? I totally wouldn't be anywhere at all with out the support of my incredible CPs like Kelsey! She and the rest of my critique partners have helped me take THE SHIFTING DARKNESS from the 65k she mentioned in the video all the way up to it's current word count of 77k. 

I've shed blood, sweat, and tears, and I'm damn proud of this ms. I need a mentor who will love my characters and story as much as I do. Someone who can help me spit-shine my ms so I can present it in the best way possible to the awesome agents, because I fully intend to be the WINNER OF PITCH WARS.