August 2015 #PitchWars

Published August 17, 2015 by Rebecca

I enjoy reading others bios more than writing my own. Please feel free to ask me anything. 🙂

I’m a single mom to young man, who is starting college tomorrow. I. Can’t Believe. It. (I was young, okay?!?! :D)

Currently, we’re living with my parents. My dad was diagnosed three years ago with early onset dementia. My mom has her own health issues and can’t take care of him by herself. She watches him during the day, and I stay up at night, which is when I do my writing. Writing is the best escape imaginable when you’re watching an unrelenting disease take over someone you love.

We have animals. Seriously, it’s like we have a Vacancy sign on our house. We’re holding steady at six cats, one dog (our other passed away last month), and currently, a baby squirrel we’re rehabbing to release back into the wild. Apparently we’ve got a penchant for taking care of others. Last year, it was two orphaned kittens who are now healthy and happy residing in their forever home–here.

I love books, much like everyone else. I’ve always read, but never thought I was smart enough to be a writer. It’s not like there was a college track for being a best-selling author. So, I went to college for pre-med, and did well (I know that makes no sense: not smart enough to be a writer, so I studied to be a doctor. Perhaps that tells you the high regard I have for words). However, the year before I was supposed to take my MCATS, we moved and my plans evolved. I took a short course in medical assisting and phlebotomy, went to work in a doctor’s office to work my way through college, and had a realization–I HATED it. It was heartbreaking to see people needing treatments they couldn’t afford and not being able to do anything about it. I took a year off school and started subbing for my son’s school district, and realized I loved the creativity involved in working with children, but still didn’t consider writing a viable profession (for me), while trying to raise a child on my own. I started studying the craft during my down time, and finally started writing.

But again, life happened, and it wasn’t until 2009 that I started the story I’ve submitted to #PitchWars. It was shelved on and off for a year or two, but I never forgot it. It’s been through many revisions and rewrites, and I’d love to have a mentor help me take it to the next level.

Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King (particularly his older stuff), J.K. Rowling, Sarah Addison Allen, Leigh Bardugo, H.P. Lovecraft, Holly Black, Laini Taylor, A. Lee Martinez, and Terry Pratchett, just to name a few and in no particular order.

The two best books I’ve read in the past month are CUCKOO SONG by Frances Hardinge and BONE GAP by Laura Ruby.

The books on my nightstand to read this month are: TROLLHUNTERS by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus, RUNEMARKS by Joanne Harris, THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY by Therese Walsh, HELEN AND TROY’S EPIC ROAD QUEST by A. Lee Martinez. and THE GIRL FROM THE WELL by Rin Chupeco.

I’m sorry I’m not on Twitter more, but I enjoy catching up on the #PitchWars feed when I can. Good luck to everyone who entered the contest!!

May 2015

Published May 18, 2015 by Rebecca

As promised, I’m actually going to update this blog. I know, surprise!

Did you ever have a point in your life where a lot was happening, but it was a slow moving process? Kind of like watching the battle scene in The Two Towers in slow motion. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but you get the idea–maybe, kind of, sort of?

In December I received feedback from agents, basically all saying the same thing. I sat down with my ms and emailed several of my critique partners, asking for their thoughts on what I could do to fix the issues. It’s extremely difficult to know how to fix something that you, your beta readers, and critique partners love. I knew the ms wasn’t perfect, but after receiving the agent feedback, it was obvious there was a major problem. I’m extremely grateful the agents took time to comment on my ms, but I still wanted to cry.

One of my lovely critique partners offered to read again and after doing so, asked if I’d ever considered writing it in first person pov. I told her that I’d written the first chapter in first and third, and let three people read it–they all preferred third (yay! Because that’s what I’d written it in). My CP asked me to send the chapter to her, and she emailed me back just a few hours later saying she’d like to read more, as it was so much deeper in my MC’s head, which she loved. Soooo…

Skip ahead four months, and I finally finished changing to it to first along with lots of cuts and additions. Hang on, rewind those four months–in December there was a Twitter pitch party called #sffpit. I threw out a few carefully worded pitches I’d used in #pitmad, though I didn’t really expect much. To my surprise, one was favorited by an agent who has a fantastic reputation, one who I was a little intimidated to query on my own. I was not going to send her something that had been rejected, it was going to be as perfect as I could make it (though that was my goal each time I queried). Fast forward again those four months, and I sent my query to this agent. Less than twenty-four hours later, she requested the full. That was an amazing feeling, one I wish I could bottle up and savor. I sent out a few more queries, and now the waiting begins–along with another story.

On the home front, things are getting busy. My son is graduating high school in a couple of weeks! I can’t believe how fast time has gone. My little baby is going out into the big world of college. I keep embarrassing him because every time he mentions graduation, my eyes leak. It’s like an allergic reaction. For those who say I don’t look old enough to have a child graduating–I know, Right?! I don’t feel that old. My son laughed when, at my recent celebration of ancientness, I tried to say I was twenty-nine again. Oh well, it happens to everyone

Another part of my life that seems to be moving quickly is my dad’s progression into dementia. That’s something I wish would slow down. To see someone you’ve known your entire life change into someone you barely know is a cruelty I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But we keep going and adapting, that’s all you can do. This isn’t like one of my stories where the monster can be defeated with cleverness and a quick blade. Maybe that’s why I love writing monster stories, they can be defeated.

Wow. 600 words later and I’m signing off for now. Hope everyone had a beautiful weekend!

Friendship

Published May 6, 2015 by Rebecca

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on here. I know I’m supposed to keep a current blog, but sometimes it’s hard to find things to write about that haven’t already been said a million times before. Plus, life isn’t always that interesting, at least when you’re the one living it.

I’m going to try update this blog soon.

April: Writing Process Blog Tour

Published April 18, 2014 by Rebecca

Hello again! I was invited to participate in a blog tour about my writing process by the lovely Artemis Grey. You should check out her blog at greyplaces.blogspot.com and read about her work. I was supposed to invite three bloggers to participate, and I did,  but the ones who accepted backed out at the last minute, so I apologize for not having additional links. If you still want to read about me, please continue.

 

1.) What am I working on?

That’s a million dollar question. I have so many stories ongoing, that it’s hard to name just one, so I’ll concentrate on the ones that I’ll be querying or pitching for publication at some point. First up is LUMA. This story is finished and out in the querying trenches. Here’s the short pitch I used in a contest:  An underground club held at an abandoned island amusement park. Abbey and Callie aren’t supposed to be there. The island is now populated by creatures with a carnivorous appetite. A night they may not survive. You can read the full pitch under the books heading on my blog.

I’m participating in Camp NaNo with my story Crypto, about a young boy who inherits a pest control business from his dad, but it’s not cockroaches, raccoons, and rats they track down. Next up is Kalipsidy, a ghost story with a taste for blood, and finally Despieriata, a story of what happens when you take a wrong turn out of your door and end up in a place quite different than you left. All of these are YA horror.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is kind of an easy one to answer, because there’s not a lot of YA horror. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing YA horror books on the shelves, but compared to other YA genres, it’s still an emerging market. As for differences, I guess I’d say that I really focus on world building, unique settings, and while romance seems to be a part of YA, that comes secondary, if at all, in my stories. I don’t think all stories need a romantic element to be read and appreciated by readers. Check out Alexander Gordon Smith’s Furnace series if you have any doubts. I certainly don’t mean to sound obnoxious or full of myself with this answer, but when I read a scary book I want to be uncomfortable, scared, or anxious while I read. I don’t want a romance novel in a horror setting.

3.) Why do I write what I do?

This one is a little tougher to answer. If you would have asked me this five or six years ago, my answer would have been completely different, because I was completely comfortable in UF (urban fantasy) land. I’ve always been a chicken about horror movies and claimed not to be a fan of horror – though I was. I have a wonderful friend, April, who is like the Einstein of horror. Over the years, she’s (very patiently) taught me the differences in horror. For example, I know now that I don’t like gore horror. Yes, my books have a fair amount of bloodshed, but it’s not gratuitous. I don’t like watching movies where people are torn to bits and you see every detail for no other reason than shock value.

Anyway, getting off topic here. I write horror as a means to work through things. Is that vague enough for you? Okay, okay. In the past few years, my life has taken a darker turn, in fact, it’s more like a cloverleaf of dark turns. I write about these things in a way that I can deal with them and make them somewhat right. While my stories never have the perfect happy ending (all rainbows, sunshine, and soul-mate love), they’re a good ending for what has happened to the characters. There’s no overt moral message or deep meaning for the reader to discover necessarily. My stories are usually about characters who are thrown into a horrific situation and have to make the best of it or die – much like real life. I choose to use monsters as a delivery vehicle for my antagonists, because you can fight monsters. There are some things in life you can’t fight and win, no matter how hard you try.

I started reading King, Lovecraft, Koontz, Poe, Rice, Straub and any other scary book I could sneak into the house when I was twelve. I love being scared, though I usually ended up sleeping with my light on. So I guess it was kind of inevitable that I came back to horror.

4.) How does my writing process work?

When I have a new story idea, I research other books in the genre and try to read at least three (not including ones I may have read already). Then I usually start writing, just go with it. When I reach the point where I’m frustrated and don’t know what to do next, I go back and outline each chapter, a bare bones outline. Once I get the first draft done, I go back and embellish the world and add more descriptions and deeper characters, take out stupid stuff, replace, delete, change, and polish. Repeat the last sentence about fifty more times and I have my book.

March

Published March 26, 2014 by Rebecca

Wow! It doesn’t seem like it has been over a month since I’ve posted. Time seems to be flying by. Or maybe I’ve just been busy. Yes, I’ve actually been busy. I’ve discovered the joys/craziness/stress/new friends made of entering my story in writing contests. I know you want to hear allllllllllll about it.

The first contest I entered was #PitchPlus1. I’d read about it a few weeks prior, but talked myself out of it. However, on the day the entries were due, a tweet went out stating that there were a hundred slots and there were still a few open. So, I narrowed my pitch down to 150 words, pasted my first sentence into an email and sent it off. Apparently the less time I have to think about things, the more likely I am to do it. There were a total of ninety entries. I was #89.

The first round of this contest was public opinion. The public narrowed it to the top fifty. I posted on Facebook and tweeted the link. You weren’t supposed to encourage people to vote for you, but to read all the entries and vote for all the ones they liked. I don’t think that’s quite what happened, but regardless, I made it to the next round!

The second round was where a select group of bloggers commented and narrowed it down to the top twenty-five. Another huge YAY! I took their suggestions and ran with them. Okay. I didn’t. I didn’t feel the suggestions would necessarily help my manuscript, but I rewrote and submitted for the next phase, that would narrow it to ten. Which was…

Published author round (round three)! Yes. An actual published author would read over the 150 word pitch AND the first page (250 words) of the novel. I went in expecting accolades of my brilliance and cleverness with words. Yeah… stupid ego. I got some good comments and some harsh ones. I didn’t make it to the agent round. I don’t know why. The comments I received weren’t bad, but I sucked it up (something very useful in this industry) and moved on.

Next contest! #PitchMadness. I swore after the first, I wouldn’t do another. It was too stressful. But this one just happened. One of the friends I made during the first contest mentioned something about it and I looked up the date for final entries. It was that day. I made up a thirty-five word pitch and sent in my first page. What the hell? After a few days of nervous checking Twitter every few minutes, the big reveal came. There were over 500 entries and they got to choose sixty to make it into the agent round. They tweeted the winners. Mine wasn’t one of them, BUT only forty something of the entries actually showed up on Twitter. One of the team leads posted her team members, and there was my beautiful baby. I was on #TeamSmartie (for those of you know me, this isn’t a surprise), with my YA horror, Luma.

After waiting another few days, impatiently checking the blog and Twitter, the BIG DAY came. The teams announced the results of the agent picks. My team  leader lives in Australia so she had someone taking care of it for her, but this person wasn’t sure what to do, so our team was last. After waiting three hours past the deadline, it was announced who won my ms and how many pages. I ended up with four!

Ecstatic is not the word. I was flying so high, it wasn’t funny. I thought I’d shoot those out and sit back to wait for the offers. Yeah… no. Instead, I went back through my ms. No matter how many times I’ve read it, there were still mistakes. Then my mom offered to help. I was going to read it to her, but instead, she read it me. Holy cow! It’s amazing the things you hear when someone else is reading your work. Your mind fills in the blanks when you’re reading. I will tell you this doesn’t happen when someone else is reading your work. Revisions-R-US would be an apt name for me.

A few days passed. #Pitmad was coming up. I had a few pitches, but nothing concrete. I was too busy with revisions to bother. When I woke up on #Pitmad day, I went to the computer and tweeted my pitch, just to see what would happen. You can tweet every half hour. As much as I didn’t want to, I did. I kept saying it would be the last time, but it wasn’t. I ended up with six more requests.

So, this month has been crazy. For those who don’t write, I don’t know how to explain it. I’m halfway through revisions on my ms and then I get to send it out to ten agents who want to see more of my work. I wish I could explain how this feels. This story is mine. It came from me. To know that people want to read it is well, humbling. Thank you for putting up with me. Cheers!

February Check-In

Published February 11, 2014 by Rebecca

Not much has happened since I last posted. I’m waiting to hear back from queries and still have one full out. Patience may be a virtue, but it’s also pretty darn aggravating. The lifestyle changes are hard to implement. The two sides of my brain are fighting it out. One side knows what I have to do, but the other side constantly reminds me of how comfy life is when you don’t freeze your rear off in thirty degree weather for a walk. It’s easier to let things remain the same. But the other side reminds me of what life could be (fun!) if I could escape some of my bad habits. I’m not happy and am working on things slowly.

I’ve been trying to get into a new story I’ve been writing. I love it when a book overtakes you and it’s all you can think about. I’m not there with this one – yet. I know how the story begins and how it ends, I know the character’s motivation, I know the basic plot, but there’s something missing and I haven’t figured out what it is. I just keep writing on it and will have a very basic draft done soon. Hopefully, it’ll come to me.

I know what part of the issue is with my writing. I don’t know if I’m good enough to be published. There. I said it. I’ve gotten some great responses to my completed story and some “meh” responses. Out of all the agents who’ve rejected my fulls and partials, none have given feedback. It’s beyond frustrating. I believe in my story and know that I’ll get there. It’s just here in querying purgatory that it really sucks. I don’t know what’s right or wrong with my story, from an agent perspective. I can fix anything, I just need to know what to fix.

Yeah… so that’s about all. Life in the here and now is like watching the movie Groundhog Day on repeat. My dad’s dementia is continuing to progress. He keeps talking about the things he’s going to do when we make our big move out west. I know they’re things he’ll never be able to do, but I don’t tell him that. This is the one thing he holds onto, and more importantly, remembers. He’s not feeling good most of the time and sometimes it feels as though life is on hold as we watch him move further away on his lonely journey.

Lots of mental stuff going on, just not much in the physical world. I’m going to keep this short, because I need to go to the store and buy some groceries before the snowstorm hits. Stay safe and be warm wherever you may be.

Progress & Stuff

Published January 19, 2014 by Rebecca

I know. I know. One of my goals was to update this blog every week. Want to know my biggest blogging pet peeve? Finding pictures to use. Solution? I’m not going to use them. I know they make the blog more attractive and whatever, but it’s enough for me to write a post. I think I’m going to reorganize my plan for the year – just a little. When I made my original list, it was looking at a bunch of small things being used to accomplish overall larger goals. Here are the big picture goals:

1. Find an agent who loves my story and can represent it effectively while I continue writing on other projects (update: I’ve written over 20k since I made the original post. See? I’ve been writing, just not on here.). Be the writer I want to be by reading and writing more. (Doing pretty well on this, btw.)

2. Be more interesting than I was last year and improve my mental health. With a few exceptions, 2013 was pretty much a year long mental funk.

3. Get healthy. Because there are days when getting out of bed is the equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, I need to get my body in the best shape possible and maybe my mind will follow.

4. Expand my social circle. I’ve become pretty reclusive since moving here. A little over a year ago I lost a good friend. Okay, she was my best friend. We called each other sister. She ended our friendship via email. Done. Over. Finished. Six years of talking multiple times a day, laughing, telling stories, sharing secrets, helping each other through really bad things, dreaming about the future, and everything in between – gone in one short paragraph. I realize now that it’s for the best, but it took me a long time to get over. If I’m being honest, it still hurts. If you’re completely disposable to your best friend, how can you expect anyone else to like you? I’ve got some wonderful friends in my life, spread across the country. It would be amazing to meet someone here and actually go out and do something together. So that’s my goal this year. I’m not looking to replace the friends I have, just add more.

5. Find the good in my life and highlight it. Life has not been kind over the past few years. I’ve gotten so used to expecting the worst, that sometimes it’s all I see. Watching my dad slip further into dementia’s unrelenting embrace is a daily reminder of a not too distant future without him. It’s frustrating, funny, and unbearably sad all at the same time. I say funny because sometimes you have to make the choice to laugh or cry. I’m trying to laugh. I see the toll this is taking on my mom and I’m absolutely powerless to do anything to change the inevitable. I’m terrified of being without a home and being completely at someone else’s mercy again. Every day I wake up fearing what the day is going to bring. This tenuous hold we have on a somewhat normal life could be ripped away any day. I know how fast and how easily it can happen. So, I’m trying to find the good and focus on it. The one always bright, always shining star in my universe is my son.  While I’m doing all these things for me, he deserves to see me at my best and maybe then I’ll be strong enough to carry our family through to the end of this chapter. The next chapter is going to be the best one yet.