Thursday, December 19, 2013

Happy Holidays!!!

My last post was a bit of a downer.  I wrote about how I lost momentum during NaNoWrite month and the story that I was working on started to fade away… Well, the second half of December has definitely improved!  I think I needed to let my NaNoWrite story just sit for a while.  I took some time to think about it and then all of a sudden I had a second wind.  I’ve been working on my Middle Grade Fantasy story now at full speed!!  I know I won’t finish by the end of December but I don’t really mind as long as I’m making decent progress.  It’s funny how writing motivation ebbs and flows. 

Also on a happy note, we have been getting the new house ready for the holidays and this year we finally put up a tree! 
Here’s a pic of Hugo standing in front of it.  I was afraid he might steal some of the ornaments for chew toys but he’s miraculously left them alone.  (As far as I can tell.)

Here’s one more holiday pic of Hugo in his Christmas Sweater that Uncle Tim and family got for him.  Usually, Hugo doesn’t wear clothes except for very special occasions… I think this sweater is pretty darn cute.  (That’s me in the background trying to get him to hold still.) 

On a final note, my elizabethrunnoe.com website is officially shutdown!  I checked it today and it no longer exists.  I am a little sad about it but I have to keep telling myself it’s easier having just one site. 


This post is going to be brief since I want to get some writing in this morning on my MG-Fantasy but I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Website Updates and December Blues

Starting January 2014, I will no longer be hosting my web address elizabethrunnoe.com.  I know, I know... I just launched a new version of it in August but my hosting service was expiring and I decided to consolidate.  You can still find me here at elizabethrunnoe.blogspot.com.  I figured it was just easier and cheaper to stay with blogspot (it’s free!) so why have both?



It’s officially December and winter is most definitely coming.  They are forecasting single digits by the end of the week and at night we are going down into the negatives.  I am bracing myself for my first full Minnesota winter.  I hope it's not as painful as people make it seem.

With November coming to a close, I am sad to report on my progress with NanoWrite.  I lost steam, not just with the story but with writing in general.  I knew I wasn't going to finish by the end of November but still I was hoping to at least be halfway done.  I am only around 17k words.

It’s been difficult for me lately especially when the people close to me have the maybe-it’s-time-to-grow-up-and-be-realistic conversation.  Maybe they’re right and I never will get published.  During times like these, I have to remind myself that I still have MOD out to interested agents and who knows--I may get that email today saying they want to rep my story.  But most of the time I just have that sinking feeling that it’s not going to happen for me.

I'm beginning to have doubts and that makes it really difficult to sit in front of my computer and tackle the next chapter.  Every word I type just seems wrong.  And I start to question the voice, the story, the paragraph--is this too long?  Is this character unlikable?  Am I going to send this out to agents once I'm finished only to fill my inbox up with more form rejections?  Then it's pretty much over for me and I have to stop writing for the day.  That, in a nutshell, explains my pathetic 17k word count for an entire 30 days worth of work.  566 words a day.  

So I have been feeling pretty discouraged lately about my writing prospects when funny enough I came across this Insecure Writer’sSupport Group Lo and behold what do they have on their front page?  This NanoWrite jpg:




That made me smile and feel a whole lot better about everything.  So, I decided I had to join.  The group posts the first Wednesday of the month and I'm anxious to see what it's all about.  Writing is a very solitary thing for me but maybe I need to come out from under my rock and see how other people are coping.  



Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNoWrite

This year I am participating in NaNoWriMo!  I considered doing it last year but I was in the middle of something I already started so it just wasn’t the right time.  I had been thinking about what kind of story to write for the last few weeks and decided on a YA Literary idea I’d been mulling over but when I sat down on Nov 1 and started typing on my computer, something completely different came out!

I started a Middle Grade Fantasy story!  This is totally new for me.  I even had to check on recommended word count and I’m still not clear on how long a chapter should be.  (Mine are really long at this point so I may need to cut them down.)  I’m also writing the narrative in a different tense and it’s from a male pov.  All new challenges!!  But I really love what I have so far although it’s taking me longer in this tense than my other stories.  I’m notoriously slow as a writer (I think it took me two years to write Amaranth Society and at least a year to write MOD) so I’m worried I may not be able to finish on time.  Here are my stats so far:



I started off strong but, much like everyone else in the Twin Cities area, I began to drag my feet at the end of week one.  And please disregard today's numbers... I haven't put in my writing time yet. :)  Even if I don’t finish by the end of the month, I will finish it this year.  This is a resolution I made for myself and one I’m going to stick to.

I’m going to keep this post short because I want to get some writing in before our weekend begins.  We’re still renovating the house so our days are filled with design warehouse visits and furniture shopping.  It’s fun but I wish everything was finished already!

Here's Hugo keeping an eye out for deer.  He saw four the other day and went nuts.  I hope he doesn't miss the city too much.




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New House, Dystopians and the Horror Genre

So I've been busy the last few weeks.  We bought a new house!  We haven’t moved in yet but we are in the process of doing a few renovations.  It’s fun but stressful and of course expensive.  I know the only way we can get what we want in the end is if we do it ourselves. 

We fell in love with the very wooded and private backyard.  Here’s a sneak peek.


I guess we really are living the Minnesota life! 

I haven’t been doing a ton of writing the last few weeks (mainly because of the house) but I did send out some queries for MOD earlier this fall.  I've been getting a decent response--two full manuscript requests and of course the dreaded rejection emails.  I’m still waiting on responses although I do feel I may have missed the boat (again) regarding the trends.  

I probably shouldn't do this but I've been reading anything I can about the dystopian trend online.  I stumbled onto this article and even though it's more than a year old it does not bode well for dystopians.  It asks if The Hunger Games could get published today.  The answer?  It might have a hard time because "editors are 'dystopian-ed out.'"  Yikes!  If The Hunger Games might have a hard time today (one of my favorite YA books of all time) then how in the hell can my book even get through the front gates?  Even though I never really thought of MOD as dystopian I guess it kind of is.  I just hope someone sees it and knows it’s unique enough to differentiate itself from all the others.  


Speaking of trends and in honor of Halloween, I found an interesting article here about the YA horror genre.  I really like how she outlines the different categories.  I've always been drawn to the psychological and Gothic horror and usually avoid serial killers or anything slasher-esque.  I had a dream the other night about Jason.  (I just had to put that pic up.  Freaks the crap out of me.)  He was released from prison and came to live with us as some sort of a half-way house.  (In my dream, it was my husband's idea, not mine!)  Needless to say, he was not the best house guest.

MOD was initially called ASYLUM and even now I think my sci-fi story has a definite Gothic element to it.  Makes me start brainstorming different story ideas...

I guess I’m racking my brains about what to write next.  I’m sort of drawn to horror but I’m also kicking around a YA literary idea.  Not sure what to tackle and I guess I’m afraid to commit since I don’t want to end up dead in the water from bad timing.  But I guess you can never predict the trends and just write what you speaks to you.


NanoWrite is coming up next month.  I never participated before but I'm thinking I may give it a try just to get me motivated and writing!  I guess I have about a week to figure it out!  Happy Halloween everyone!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Covers and PRIME Giveaway!

First off, I want to announce an awesome opportunity to win a free copy of PRIME by Samantha Boyette.  (You can enter the contest here!  It ends tomorrow so put your name in as soon as you can.)  This story hasn't been released yet anywhere but I was fortunate enough to read an earlier version back in 2010.  Samantha and I tied as the winners of Textnovel.com’s 2010 cell phone novel contest.  (Samantha with PRIME and me with AMARANTH SOCIETY).  We contacted each other after the win and shared our works in progress... and many other works in progress after that.  I think I've read five of her books so far, some released, some not yet released.  PRIME has always been one of my favorites!  If you like zombies, then definitely put your name in to win!

I love the cover of PRIME which she made herself!!  She also shared with me another cover which she made for her most recent book, 18 MONTHS.  I just finished reading it and although she’s still working on some final edits, I hope she'll release it soon.  It was really good.  18 MONTHS is definitely another favorite.

It’s been so helpful having a fellow writer to talk to about industry stuff and also to read my current projects.  Sometimes I feel I get so embedded into my story I can’t see straight anymore.  (I tried having my husband read my stuff a few times but poor guy can’t take teenage romance anymore!!)  I definitely recommend getting some readers that you trust to look at your work.  It’s always been hard for me to share but it’s necessary.

Now let’s talk about book covers.  So yes, 18 MONTHS and PRIME are beautiful and obviously Samantha has some real talent for Photoshop.  If anyone has poked around my website, you can see the tragedy that is the cover for MOD.  (I won't even post it here, it's so bad.)  In my defense, I created my new website in a hurry and wanted to launch it as soon as possible.  I didn't have a cover created yet so I just threw something up more for placement than anything else. 

I've been poking around trying to figure out the best way I can make a new cover and discovered this article about one writer who used public domain images to create this cover image:


I don't know anything about the book or the story but I think the cover is intriguing!

Public domain images are a great way to go and I definitely loved tapping into those resources when I worked in television.  (They’re free after all and you’d be surprised by what is available to you.  They list a few sources in the above website.)  But then there’s still the problem of putting it all together.  Hmmm…. The MOD cover is obviously still a work in progress.  I will keep you updated and hopefully the next time you stop by, I will have a new one made!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Minnesota Renaissance Festival

I’m realizing with this blog that when it comes to writing, a lot of days go by with nothing new to report.  Either I’m ‘still writing,’ or ‘still waiting,’ or ‘still writing and waiting.’  So since I am new to Minnesota, I thought I would post about our experiences getting to know our new home. 

My husband and I were waiting at the airport when I spotted a brochure for the Minnesota Renaissance Festival!  Now I’ve never been to a Renaissance Festival which may surprise anyone who knew me in high school.  (I saw Shakespeare’s HENRY V when I was about 14 and it literally changed my life.)  But really the thing that caught my eye was the Pet Themed Weekend!!  As a proud owner of a one-year-old Papillon, I couldn't resist.    

Hugo as Robin Hood.


  Better shot with his dagger.

Unfortunately, we didn't win the doggy costume contest.  We lost to a 130 pound dog wearing a woman's medium-sized butterfly costume--you can't really compete with that--but we had a good time.

   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Reading Room Aspiring Writers Competition

WriteOnCon is officially over.  I’m a little disappointed I didn't get any direct feedback from agents.  (I know… I know… it's a big deal to be ninja’d i.e. having them contact you for a submission but even one comment would have been nice.)  On the bright side, it was so helpful to have feedback from all of the amazing writers in the forum so it was well worth it.  I am looking forward to participating next year!


I wanted to mention another online competition hosted in part by WriteOnCon.  It’s for aspiring young adult and middle grade writers at The Reading Room which is a website similar to Goodreads.  I believe you have to sign up for the site and then submit your first 500 words here by AUGUST 16th. Tomorrow!  The winner receives a cash prize and an opportunity to be considered by dream agent, Catherine Drayton.  That alone should inspire everyone to enter.  

You can also read more about it at the WriteOnCon website here.  


Good luck!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What I've learned so far at WriteOnCon …

The WriteOnCon conference has officially started!  I posted all of my work on the forums (a query letter, first 250 words and first 5 pages) and so far, I've received a lot of great feedback.  It's been a process but I've revised my query letter at least 4 times and tweaked my writing sample.  I think everything is much stronger now so I’m glad I decided to participate!

One thing I've learned from scrolling through the forums and reading everyone else’s work is how important it is to have a good query letter!  These things are tricky to write but a good one stands out from the rest.  I’m certainly not an agent but after reading query after query I can see how they all start to sound the same.  When I find a good one (or one I really like) it pops out instantly.  Then I dissect it to see what makes it good.

Carly Webber, an agent from CK Webber Associates, posted this on the forum about her process of going through her slush pile.  I can see now how quickly she has to decide whether or not to move on to the sample pages since there are just so many queries to read!  And she herself says she gives only about one minute per query.  I guess the take home message is make your query letter clear and concise!!  I know… easier said than done.

Also, if you’re even thinking about sending in a query, you need to watch this Google Hangout Event with literary agents Suzie Townsend and Kathleen Ortiz from New Leaf Media.  They review twitter pitches and give their reactions.  I found this to be so helpful (even if you don’t do twitter pitches which I never have) since it helped me see the process from their point of view. 



Sunday, August 4, 2013

WriteOnCon

I've been searching the blogs for info on literary agents (since I'm putting together a wish list) and came across this post by YA writer Rachel Pudelek who just signed with Christa Heschke of McIntosh and Otis. 

It was so great to read what she went through and gave me a lot of renewed hope. I would check it out if you are also struggling getting your story noticed. Rachel--thanks for sharing and let us know when your book comes out!!


 
She also mentioned the WriteOnCon Forum.  I've never heard of this before!  I guess it pays to troll the blogs once in a while.  This looks really cool although when I saw the list of participating agents I felt a little faint.  Not only are they really awesome agents but unfortunately I queried a bunch of them earlier this year with the not-so-great version of my story.  Many of them rejected me.  Hopefully this time around, they'll see that MOD is a brand new story and give it a second chance!

Yesterday afternoon (after I launched my new website), I posted my query letter and writing samples of MOD up on the WriteOnCon forum.  It's only been one day and already I’m receiving so much great advice from my fellow writers!!  Especially on that stupid query letter!   I think that thing is harder to write than the novel itself.
  
So I'm off to work re-writing my stuff on the forum.  It's also been fun reading and contributing to other writers' stories.  

WriteOnCon officially starts August 13th but you can start posting anytime!  I'm also curious to see how the live events will go.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New Website!

Relaunched my new website and added a new blog component to it!  That's why there's not too much info on here yet...  I decided I wanted something simple and clean.  Plus I needed to update it with my new finished story.

MOD is complete and out to a couple of readers for final feedback.  Hopefully it won't come back needing too many revisions.  (I already had one reader tear it apart earlier this summer which was a very difficult day for me.  After re-working his comments into my story, I can see now it was completely necessary.)

While I'm waiting for comments from them, I decided to get going on my query letter and synopsis--two horrible, dreaded hateful things.  I already queried an earlier version of MOD (under a different title) at the beginning of this year and had some decent feedback.  I got two full requests and one partial from three amazing agents.  In the end, they all passed.  That's when I went back to work and pretty much rewrote the entire thing.  Everything changed--the premise, the storyline, even the title.  I feel that it's so much better.  Honestly, it's not even the same story anymore even though some of the world-building concepts are the same.  When I look at the old ms, I cringe knowing I actually sent that thing out.  My biggest mistake was that I didn't let anyone read it--I was too eager and sent it out prematurely.  

I'm not going to make the same mistake again so hopefully my last two readers will get back to me with some good comments and I can polish up MOD for the final push.