Monthly Archives: October 2009

A Kiss Goodbye

When a child grows up and you see him, or her, leaving you behind, it’s a bitter-sweet sensation. You watch after him, hoping you dressed him cool enough or warm enough. Did you teach him all he needs to know about surviving, such as looking both ways to cross the street, not talking to strangers, and a million other pieces of advice?

How we feel about our writing is not much different. We hope and pray with every query, proposal and entire manuscript submission that our literary child is ready for the world.

Yesterday I received a blanket email from Marcher Lord Press. It asked if I had turned in my premise yet as only five days remained. He noted only seven had sent theirs in. Good for me if it stays at that number, because my chances just jumped to 8:1 instead of 40:1.

I’m not counting my fingers just yet, though. I was waiting until the last minute so I could spend more time preparing my little premise who I’m still not sure is ready.

Good thing the publisher sent the email and I read the whole thing through. It turns out that even though my story is entered into the premise contest, I still need to send a 100-word teaser, 1-page synopsis (not giving away the ending), and the first 500 words.

Oh.

Now I’m really glad I waited, otherwise I would have sent my 20-word premise and nothing else.

I sent my proposal out into the big-bad scary world today.

I hope and pray it survives, even thrives.

Turning off The Brain

Rain on WindowWhen my 21-month-old son gets frustrated with a toy not assembling the way he expects it to, he either pounds on it, tosses it across the room, or he stares at me and groans as if demanding I fix it for him.

Quite calmly I say, "Just walk away, honey. You’ll figure it out eventually."

Whether or not he understands the concept is doubtful, but he does listen enough to walk away. Sometimes. The rest of the time I have to take it away and distract him with something else.

He takes after me, poor fella.

Now if only I would take my own advice more often.

Last night my single braincell told me to leave the premise alone. I didn’t want to, so it distracted me with the desire to play with and upload more photos into my flickr album. 

Two hours later and happily forgetful of my premise I went to bed. Not ten minutes later, I had it! I knew how to word my premise. Well, the first dozen words anyway.

With my still fully-functional braincell, I jumped out of bed, ran to the living room (okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration) and grabbed a notebook, booklight and pen. I returned to bed and wrote down my premise. I left the notebook et al by my pillow just in case another aha! moment struck me.

It didn’t, but no matter. I figured out the hardest part of my premise. The rest could wait until the morning.

An hour ago I finished it up, using only 2 pages of notebook paper to get there.

It is now in the hands of two fellow writers who volunteered to bleed on it for me.

I changed my mind about posting it here, because if it’s to get any votes in the contest, I want it on merit alone. Will that hurt my chances? Probably. But if my premise gets me into the second round or higher, I’ll know the words alone got me there.

Okay, God, too *grin*.

Just Shoot Me

You would think after working eight years on a book, I would have such a good grasp of the concept along with the story, characters, et al, writing a 20-word premise could be a snap.

Sure, if writing and deleting every word for 47 hours, 20 cups of coffee, a sore scalp from pulling out all my hair, and cracked fingernails from pounding on my computer keys in teary-eyed frustration is considered a snap (long enough sentences there, for ya?).

Okay, it’s not that bad. But boiling down a 100k story into so few words is a challenge this lady doesn’t feel qualified to accomplish. At least not enough to make a bunch of people say, "Wow! I wanna read that book!"

Yes, this is a temper tantrum. No, I’m not giving up. Sometimes plopping down on the floor and screaming my head off helps to purge all the negative thoughts and feelings.

*plops down on floor and screams into pillow*

There. I feel better now. My apologies if my mental flailing hurt your eyes or emotional stability.

Back to work.

A Tiny Step — Better Than None.

October 17, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Marcher Lord Press Announces Marcher Lord Select
 
(Colorado Springs, CO)–Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, today announces the debut of a revolution in fiction acquisitions.
 
"Marcher Lord Select is American Idol meets book acquisitions," says publisher Jeff Gerke. "We’re presenting upwards of 40 completed manuscripts and letting ‘the people’ decide which one should be published."
 
The contest will proceed in phases, Gerke explains, in each subsequent round of which the voters will receive larger glimpses of the competing manuscripts.
 
The first phase will consist of no more than the book’s title, genre, length, a 20-word premise, and a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb. Voters will cut the entries from 40 to 20 based on these items alone.
 
"We want to show authors that getting published involves more than simply writing a great novel," Gerke says. "There are marketing skills to be developed–and you’ve got to hook the reader with a good premise."
 
Following rounds will provide voters with a 1-page synopsis, the first 500 words of the book, the first 30 pages of the book, and, in the final round, the first 60 pages of the book.
 
The manuscript receiving the most votes in the final round will be published by Marcher Lord Press in its Spring 2010 release list.
 
No portion of any contestant’s mss. will be posted online, as MLP works to preserve the non-publication status of all contestants and entries.
 
Participating entrants have been contacted personally by Marcher Lord Press and are included in Marcher Lord Select by invitation only.
 
"We’re also running a secondary contest," Gerke says. "The ‘premise contest’ is for those authors who have completed a Christian speculative fiction manuscript that fits within MLP guidelines and who have submitted their proposals to me through the Marcher Lord Press acquisitions portal before October 29, 2009."
 
The premise contest will allow voters to select the books that sound the best based on a 20-word premise, a 100-word back cover copy teaser blurb, and (possibly) the first 500 words of the book.
 
The premise contest entrants receiving the top three vote totals will receive priority acquisitions reading by MLP publisher Jeff Gerke.
 
"It’s a way for virtually everyone to play, even those folks who didn’t receive an invitation to compete in the primary Marcher Lord Select contest."
 
Marcher Lord Select officially begins on November 1, 2009, and runs until completion in January or February 2010. All voting and discussions and Marcher Lord Select activities will take place at The Anomaly forums in the Marcher Lord Select subforum. Free registration is required.
 
"In order for this to work as we’re envisioning," Gerke says, "we need lots and lots of voters. So even if you’re not a fan of Christian science fiction or fantasy, I’m sure you love letting your voice be heard about what constitutes good Christian fiction. So come on out and join the fun!"
 
Marcher Lord Press is a Colorado Springs-based independent publisher producing Christian speculative fiction exclusively. MLP was launched in fall of 2008 and is privately owned. Contact: Jeff Gerke; www.marcherlordpress.com.
 
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I received the above press release from Jeff via email, along with an invitation to participate in the premise contest. It’s not the main contest, but hey, an opportunity is an opportunity, right?
 
So now I have 12 days to once again sweat, cry and bleed over my premise and submit it. Also, if you’d like to participate as a voter (please, please, please do!) click on the Anomoly forum link above. I may also post my premise here in the next few days so you can give me ideas on how to improve upon it. I could use all the help I can get.
 
 
 

The Age-Old Question

Why do bad things happen to good people?

It’s a question we all ask ourselves, especially when the "bad" hits close to home.

Why does a wife lose her husband, a husband his wife, and a mother her son? Why does God seem to turn his back on all the prayers asking for a stay of Death’s hand?

It’s all so excruciatingly unfair.

Especially when there are so many people who seemingly do nothing but evil remain untouched by the darker side of life.

Will my attempt at an answer sound trite at best?

I can’t know the mind of God, why he chooses to grace some with his healing touch here on earth and others he calls home – from our perspective – all too soon.

A few days ago I read Isaiah 57:1-2:

Good people pass away;
         the godly often die before their time.
         But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
         that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
For those who follow godly paths
         will rest in peace when they die.

Does that really help the family and loved ones left behind? Not really. All we can do is grieve and hope that someday we can breathe without the stab of loss.

All the rest of us can offer is our shoulders, our ears and our tears. None of us leaves this world untouched by losing someone we love sometimes more than life, so none of us ever grieves alone.

Sometimes if that only someone is God himself.

Sure he allows bad things to happen to good people, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t grieve with us and offer some measure of comfort. The comfort may come in the form of a kind word, a hug, or a simple passage of scripture that promises a day when Death is not even a faded memory.

From One Addiction to Another

You would think that after about six weeks of not hearing whether or not my book will be accepted by a publisher, I’d be a wreck.

Keeping busy with either writing other projects are submersing myself into a different hobby helps keep the noggin’ screwed on straight.

For me it’s taking pictures. To the point my son gives me a dirty look whenever I grab the camera. No kidding. Over the last few days I’ve slowed down quite a bit. The weather has turned dreary, and darkness falls too soon for good outdoor shots.

And my creativity for indoor shots has dried up a bit. I turned my focus away from snapping pictures until my finger falls off to using software to modify and add special effects to the pictures I have now. I borrowed from the library two digital photography books, and so far I’ve learned a lot about how digital cameras work. Interesting stuff. I’m also reading "The Last Eye Witness" by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, a fictionalized story of John, the last of the original disciples and the one who wrote the Gospel of John.

Once I finish that, I hope to continue to work on my new manuscript using the Snowflake Method. I hope complete enough of it done I can use what I learned there to write it during Nanowrimo beginning November 1.

In the meantime, I’m going to spend less time on the computer, which means still not many entries for a while. Hopefully not a full month in between this time.

After spending eight hours a day on a computer at work, the thought of logging more hours at home? Blech. Luckily if I want to write, there’s always the ever-available and reliable pen and paper.

Now it’s back to reading. I hope the weather hasn’t turned too cold for you, and if it has, you’re warm and toasty. Hmm. Good idea. A hot coffee and snuggling in a warm blanket on the couch with my book sounds heavenly.

Later!