Friday, December 11, 2015

My Experience as a Writer

I had a journal in high school. It was passionate with emotion on my budding relationship with my husband. We started dating really young. Well, during one of our breakups, I torched the journal. Bad decision. I would have loved reading it now.

I really didn’t choose writing. Writing chose me. I was diagnosed Bipolar in 2004 and my therapist suggested it. I started out small, writing a poem here and there, but my love for writing quickly grew. I stayed in the poetry world for years and felt so comfy and safe there. I had dozens of poems accepted over the years. I was addicted to getting accepted. I felt like a piece of my mind was being accepted into the world. Like my thoughts, sometimes, were worth something. Something meaningful.

Anyway, after the acceptances poured in, it was getting to be every poem I submitted, I wasn’t being challenged anymore.

I got this really cool thing in the mail. I don’t know how I got it, but it was information on how to enroll in the Institute of Children’s Literature. I was so excited; I took the aptitude test and passed right away. I signed up and took the class. It was very hands on. They would provide a writing lesson and I was to hand it in, by mail. They would send them back all marked up with tons of feedback. It was extremely rewarding. Very challenging, to say the least, but I followed through and got my certificate and college credits. July of 2009 I received my certificate. One of my stories became a published book.

So I was in the children’s writing phase for a while, writing picture book stories, but nothing really panned out. I was writing adult short stories too. I was going back and forth. Some of my adult short stories got published too. But I found that writing short stories wasn’t cutting it for me either. I was having a hard time getting them accepted. I was frustrated, beyond frustrated. So I kept testing my voice, between adult stories and children’s stories and that’s when I started writing YA, without me even knowing it. I’ve never gotten this much praise on any of my other writing as I did with YA. I nestled into YA very easily. I even had an agent in the very beginning and that book was ultimately published too.

I worked my way up from very small, tiny, tiny poetry, to writing novels. My writing has flourished over the years. Today it is the ultimate challenge for me. Dear God, climbing the publishing ladder is nearly impossible it seems. But so help me, God, I am going to do it, and keep doing it. My mind just won’t let me give up. I’ve prayed so hard to let go of writing, but it’s basically impossible for me. Again, I have the Bipolar disorder so, with my mental illness, I need to write. Whether I get published or not, I must write on.

So whatever you do, don’t let yourself give up. Believe in the fact that if you absolutely adore the written word, giving up writing is not an option. And just know that starting out small is perfectly okay. Going from not writing at all to writing a novel is a giant leap. Some people can do it. Some people get their books accepted by big publishers right away. I’m glad I worked my way up. It would be extremely hard to top a book you published by a big publisher right away. But again, some people can do it. I’m thankful of my experience with writing. I wouldn’t want to have it any other way.

Monday, October 19, 2015

In Between Novels

So you finished your novel! That’s great news! Congratulations! It can be a great joy to finish. There’s also this sadness too, for me at least. If you’ve written a novel and finished and edited and polished and have it out on submission, now what do you do? The best thing to do is write another novel while you’re waiting. But that can be extremely difficult. You might still be attached to your last novel. Or you might not have ideas to write a new one. Whatever the case, it sucks, I know, because that’s where I’m at right now. But there are many other things you can do in the meantime

You can write in your blog or research agents and or publishers. Don’t just wait around for responses. It will do you no good. I know this because it happens to me all the time. I have to force myself to do other things. And when I do, naturally I feel better.

I think the biggest problem I have is not having a clear direction. When you don’t have an agent or editor cheering you on or asking for rewrites or telling you what direction to go in, you have to direct yourself. When you’re a writer, there are a lot of things you have to do on your own. It can be really lonely. But it can also be very rewarding too.

So let’s talk more about the things you can do in between your novels. Again, as I said, you can update your blog. You can research agents and publishers. You can switch gears in your writing and write a different genre or category—from adult to young adult and so on. Another big part of being a writer is reading. You can take this time and catch up on reading a novel or two, or several. Go at the pace you are most comfortable at doing. Writing in a journal and writing short stories and poems is also another great avenue to try. Just remember if you write a short story or poem, you can submit it to magazines and possibly promote your platform that way too.

Just because you might not be writing at the moment, doesn’t mean you’re not a writer. There are plenty other writerly things you can do. And when you are ready to start the next novel, you’ll not only have another finished novel on your hands, you’ll have another novel to query with—in case the previous one doesn’t work out. Sometimes it takes several novels to get that deal you’ve been dreaming of. Even when you want to quit, DON’T! Just keep trying. If you keep trying, you’re bound to succeed. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Living with a Mental Illness: Part 2

There’s an older black woman that comes to the library like I do. She sits at the computer, shuffles some papers around and talks to herself. Loudly. Her hair is kind of raggedy and her clothes are worn with holes. I feel for her. I think to myself, if I wasn’t on medication, I would be like her.

When I’m off of my medication things start to get weird. My ticks start to take over. I am talking to myself, loudly. I’m having full blown conversations that are all going nowhere. I can’t decide on anything so I’m moving back and forth and stopping and forgetting and thinking about something else. I’m all mixed up basically.

It feels like a dream, where you’re going around, doing what you’re doing and not even thinking about doing it. It just happens. You’re not even wondering why you did that. You’re just watching everything as it unfolds. Trapped in your head. I have dreams every night and they’re all weird. But when you’re doing something in manic mode, it all feels like a dream, till you wake up and find that it’s your reality. It’s a part of you now, a part of your life and what you experienced. You can’t wipe it away like it was a dream. You try your hardest to forget, but the more you want to forget, the more you remember. At first it comes in bits and pieces, out of order until you have a clear vision of what you did, like running into cars half naked or crashing your car into another car. Thank God in my case everyone was all right. But it didn’t have to happen. There were warning signs. I felt unsafe, unsure in a surreal thought pattern. I was rushed to take the kids to school and I dropped them off safely and then I broke into full manic mode. I remember the air bag slamming into my chest. I remember getting out and picking up the fragments of the crash and cursing God in the middle of the street.

I could go on and on about it, but that was years ago and everything, luckily turned out okay in the end. It’s still a part of my past that I try desperately to forgive myself of and move on, but it’s extremely difficult. It’s even more difficult when you have several bipolar episodes buried down deep that all take turns dwelling about. I was diagnosed in 2004, so 11 years of this still going strong.

The writing helps immensely. That’s why, even if I don’t have anything being published at the time, I still write. It keeps my mind busy and that’s always a good thing. I’d hate to be in that position like the lady from the library is in. Maybe she can’t afford medication. She keeps to herself and is pretty mobile. I see her on the bus sometimes too. So she gets around. I don’t know her full story, but I’m just relating to her issues. I could very much be the same way and I understand what she is going through.

Some people glare and are bothered by her. The librarians are sweet, they never say anything to her unless someone complains.

Anyway, my point is it sucks. Even on medication, I still struggle. Not as much but I do have bouts of self- talk that won’t seem to go away. I’ll be arguing with myself silently in my mind as I walk somewhere till I literarily say “Stop Mama!” It works only briefly then I go back to it. Again the writing and the reading do help. And keeping busy with the kids and the house. I have such wonderful support from my family. If it wasn’t for them, I’d be lost.
So the next time you see someone talking to their self, have some empathy for them. Some things are beyond our control.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hodderscape Open to Submissions!

Hodderscape is open to submissions, now through the 16th of this month. They are a UK publisher looking for science fiction, fantasy and horror.

You can check out more info here. Good Luck and happy submitting!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Update on YA Publishers

Here's a few more YA Publishers that you can add to your list when you are ready to submit.

Penner Publishing (pays advances)
Clean Teen Publishing
Finch Books (and imprint of Totally Bound Publishing)
Evernight Teen

As far as I know, these publishers check out okay on Absolute Write
Be sure to check for any updates. Good Luck and Happy Submitting!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Just an Update

Hi everyone! Sorry I haven't updated my blog in a while. I've been meaning to do some more YA Publisher lists. Hopefully that will come soon.

I've been toiling away on my seventh novel. I'm up to 22K. Having a daily word count really helps, I think. I'm really enjoying the mystery and how it's unfolding. I don't normally do outlines, but I think that would help too. I'm happy that it's flowing at the moment. Even though I worry about getting stuck or not having interest, I'm just riding the wave for now. And right now, it's working.

Happy Writing Everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Waiting Game

Well, that's where I am right now. I have two novels on submission and the wait is killing me. Seems like I'm always waiting. Ever since I started this writing gig 10 years ago, I've been waiting-- back when I was submitting poetry. Longest I have ever gotten a response back was 5 years later, no joke. They asked me if my poem was still available. I had to tell them it was already published years ago.

Submitting novels can be very much the same. Although I've never gotten a rejection that took that long. I have gotten a rejection that was about 18 months old. Since it's really hard to get published (even when you've had some under your belt) you can have several projects going. I know, I know. Everyone always says, write in the meantime. But I'm at the point where they are now piling up. It's hard to keep cranking them out. I've always done stand alone novels, never a series. I can barely commit myself to one novel, let alone several. So it has come that my writing has massively slowed down. It's hard to keep going and going without a deal. I don't want to complain, but that's where I'm at right now.

On the other hand, I have been reading a ton! I am ahead on my reading challenge for the year. I challenged myself to read 10 to 12 books for this year and I am already on book number 6. And we're only three months into the year. If I keep going at this rate, I will double my goal. NOT sure if I will lose steam. I often do with reading and writing. I'm just going to ride the wave for now. I know that might seem like hardly anything, but it's a lot for me. And I've been hitting on some really good YA books too, which is great. Here's a small list below in case you are looking for recommendations. Until then, have a good one. Thanks for listening.

YA Novels

The Distance Between Lost and Found: by: Kathryn Holmes (released Feb 2015)
When by: Victoria Laurie (Jan 2015)
Forget Me: by: K. A Harrington (released Aug 2014)
Fiendish by: Brenna Yovanoff (August 2014)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Keep Going

Easier said than done. And what’s even harder is things getting you down. Like rejections. And worst of all is life itself. You or a loved one gets sick, someone loses their job. Money is so tight it squeezes you around the neck. You’re just trying to go through life without snapping out of your brain.

Well, that’s where I’m at right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever not be struggling in life, whether financially, emotionally or mentally. In reality, it’s never going to go away. Until then, I still keep going with my reading and writing because if I don’t I’ll go insane basically. I worry constantly about my kids, the bills and everything in between, but honestly that worry will always be there. It will never go away. So to quell some of those worries—worries I have no control of, I keep my mind active with reading and writing. Yes, it is an escape. And no, escape isn’t always a good thing. But your brain needs a release every now and then and if you don’t have a form of release, then bad things happen. Believe me, it will.

I’ve been in and out of the hospitals enough to know stressing out over things too much will hurt you—really really hurt you. So, the next time you ask yourself, why am I doing this? (as far as reading and writing goes) Tell yourself it is needed. It is necessary to function in life. It’s important. So don’t give up hope. Never give up hope. And don’t tell yourself writing is useless, because it is so far from it. Even if all you get is rejections. Just know that what you’re doing is not in vain.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Slow Readers are NOT Poor Readers

I always thought that being a slow reader meant being a poor reader. But that's so not the case. All through grade school and high school I got Ds and Cs. I was always put in the poor reading groups. And yes, when I would read out loud, it would sound horrible. I think I was so worried about how I sounded, it all came out wrong. Like scary wrong.

It wasn't until years later that I was diagnosed with the Bipolar disorder so there was no wonder why I had a hard time comprehending things. When you're put under pressure for all those tests, it just makes things so much harder. I wrote a lot in high school and kept a journal...until I burned it after I broke up with my now husband. It was one of those on again off again relationships. It wasn't until 11 years ago, when I was diagnosed, I started writing again. I started out with simple poetry and then analyzing it to death. Then I slowly graduated myself into short stories then novels.

Over the years of writing, I realized a very important thing. I still read slow, but my comprehension skills were amazingly better. So even though I'm still a slow reader, it doesn't make me a poor reader.

For those of you struggling in school with reading and comprehension, one way to get a lot better is to write! But not just write, analyze what you are writing. Like if it's a poem, write different variations of it. Or if it's a short story, write different endings. Ask yourself questions and could this be done differently? And never, NEVER feel bad that you read slow. It's okay. Take all the time you need to absorb it. When test time comes, hopefully you'll be better prepared.

Believe me, it is still a struggle to read sometimes. Depression can easily get in the way of that. But tests have proven reading lowers stress levels and calms you. That's always a good thing. One last bit of reading that's really fun to do is challenge yourself. This year I am going to read 10 to 12 books. I know I know. To some that may sound like a super low number. It's a high number for me. Everyone has a different high number. Keep it within a reasonable amount and within reach. I feel so accomplished when I finish a book. Believe me, you will too. And you know what? I bet you'll want to do it again.