Monday, August 18, 2014

All About Nora: A #PitchWars Mentee Bio!


I wasn't going to do one of these, but then I wanted to procrastinate, so here we are.

My name is Nora, and I am a pre-published author. I am currently sitting on my couch in pajamas eating iced animal crackers and watching HGTV. And that right there pretty much sums me up. It's noon and I pretty much look like this:

I am creeping closer to 30 than 20 (when the hell did that happen?). In fact, I'll be ticking another notch on September 7th—I will be accepting early gifts on September 3rd in the form of mentor picks!

Oh, and I should probably mention that I'm 6'4". But since this is the internet, don't worry, you won't have to have me looming over you! And nope, I don't play basketball/volleyball/whatever. I am determinedly uncoordinated!

So, what else about me? I was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Iowa, but I escaped the Midwest via the Navy. I went to college at the Naval Academy in Maryland where I got a B.S. in Astrophysics with a minor in Spanish. After that, I spent the last five years in the Navy. Luckily I was able to get four of those years in San Diego, where I stayed after getting out in June. Among all of these upheavals, moves, underways, and duty days, my writing has remained a constant.

I write science fiction and fantasy. I blame my parents! My dad started reading The Hobbit aloud to me when I was little, and I haven't looked back since. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Heinlein, Asimov, Ender's Game, Star Wars, Doctor Who...well, you get the idea. Magic? Space? Lasers? Give me it ALLLLLLLL!

The manuscript I submitted for #PitchWars, Anna's Stars, is the fourth full novel I have written. I love Anna, I love science fiction, and I love my kickass story! The book deals a lot with grief and loss, seasoned with galactic politics, Imperial machinations, and space adventuring. I can't wait for one of the mentors to fall in love with Anna and her story, too!

Well, that's me! Check out some of the other mentee bios over at the Contestant Hop!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression, Suicide, and Other Happy Thoughts

Yesterday I was scrolling through the New Posts tab over at AbsoluteWrite when I saw a post titled "Robin Williams Dead at 63". I couldn't believe it. I went straight to Twitter and it was the top trending topic—RIP Robin Williams. Dead from apparent suicide by hanging.

I spent much of the afternoon watching YouTube clips. Particularly one of my favorite Disney songs ever, made brilliant by the comedic stylings of the incomparable Mr. Williams.

How I learned what baklava was.

And as I started thinking about my blog post today, I thought that I should write about suicide. I should write about depression. I should try to share what it is like to be mired in an endless stream of self-recrimination. How it feels to want desperately to die and to hate yourself for not being brave enough to do it. How it feels when someone you love and care about is gone because of it. The dread that comes along with knowing someone close to you is struggling with that burden and you can't help it or lift it. The days when getting out of bed seems pointless, when sitting at a red light you plead with the universe to send an out-of-control semi crashing into your car. When a challenge as small as choosing what to wear can seem overwhelmingly huge. The ways you deal with it and the ways you don't because it can't truly be dealt with. Wondering if other people are as fucked up as you but only feeling worse when you realize many are.


I can't do it. I can't bring myself to truly sit down and write about my own struggles and the struggles I have witnessed in others. Instead I will point you to PostSecret, a site that has helped me connect with the humanity in those around me. To the Suicide Hotline who once fielded a call from me that helped pull me back, though it lasted no more than 30 seconds and they never had a chance to say much at all. To this touching post by David Wong that discusses the pain in comedy. And leave you with this amazing poem by Walt Whitman, made so famous by Robin Williams.

O Me! O Life!

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Friday, August 8, 2014

#FlashFridayFootage: "Emily and Brody"

TGIFFF! Because #FlashFridayFootage is clearly the highlight of Friday.

Thanks to the wonders of post scheduling and Tweetdeck, I am currently somewhere high above the United States on my way to Chicago for a bachelorette party—but you can be enjoying my reading of the flash science fiction story "Emily and Brody."

Have an excellent weekend!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Writing for Publication? Or Myself?

There has been a blog post making the rounds among writers on Twitter* recently. It is an excellent post by Amy Trueblood called "What If You Never Get Published?". Go on and read it, I'll wait.

Okay, so reading her post got me thinking (again). Writing is a lot of work. I spend hours and hours on it every week—and even more hours thinking/worrying about it. There is a lot of stress and heartache in the constant rejection, the struggle to find an audience, to connect with an agent or an editor or whatever stage you're at. That step of getting a novel published is a huge one. There are many, many of us trying to get past it. Some of us never will.

So is it worth it? Is the intrinsic reward of creation and writing enough to keep me putting in the hours, editing and refining and crying and polishing and writing and going back to edit again? I want to say yes. I want to say that I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray (at least, grayer than I already am!). After all, the difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence.

But for me, writing isn't just about creation. It's about sharing. It's about people reading what I write. Without readers, my books are just hunks of dead trees or fleeting pixels. So if I can't succeed in getting my writing to readers (via being published), at some point it would not be worth it to me anymore.

What is that point? I don't know. It's been over thirteen years of noveling, and I'm only going stronger than ever. I don't see myself quitting in the foreseeable future. In fact, I have plans for my writing that span many years. I already have four completed, edited, unpublished manuscripts, and I know how to "let go" of a project that isn't working. But at some point, I may have to admit that my entire writing career is a project that needs to be let go.

So for me, the answer is that I write for both myself and for the goal of publication. If I didn't have that goal, I don't think I would be driven to work as hard as I do on my writing. That dream keeps me going. One day I may have to set that dream aside, to go into the graveyard of dreams alongside my ballet career and my winning lottery ticket. But that's okay. Life is, as they say, a journey.

*On a side note, I have been following more and more writers and agents lately. Writing is taking over my feed! (Usually it is a mash of personal, fitness, science, writing, and politics people that I follow, and I try not to let any aspect dominate.) It's awesome to have so much support and information, to see people struggling or triumphing with the same challenges that I face. But it's also a little daunting. I am one of many, many, many pre-published authors out there, and it's a tiny pond we're swimming in.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July 2014 Wrap-Up (Post #100!)

Update: I just remembered that this was 100th post! I was going to do something special, but this is what I did instead. Yay for the longevity of my writing blog, and here's to another 100 posts! :cheers:

First off, let me say that I know it's Friday, but there isn't a #FlashFridayFootage this week. With my parents in town plus 3 job interviews and trying to get writing done, I didn't have a chance to make a video! But rest assured, it will be back in full swing next Friday!

Now, for July: WOOOOO!

Yup, July was as great as June. Better than June. It was thoroughly awesome and everything I had hoped it would be when I did my June wrap-up. That is not a very common occurrence, so I am fully enjoying the feeling.

Remember how June was my most productive month ever at 15,385? Well, let's just say that record no longer stands. In July I wrote 24,172 words with 8 non-writing days.

Most of those went towards novel 7 (which is turning out to be more like novella 1). I am still having so much fun with this project and think it definitely has amazing potential. Usually at this point I am already hating what I am writing, so it's refreshing to still be excited about it!

As for novel 6, it hasn't had quite such a good run of it. I spent most of the month trying to re-work the query to get my response percentage up, and I'm still not quite happy with it. I submitted to the #NewAgent contest run by Michelle Hauck and had great fun, even if mine didn't make it past the screening. I gathered some new beta feedback, and am ready to push forward with another round of queries as well as #PitchWars in August! Lots of great stuff to look forward to.

Wordcount goal: 104.0%
Non-writing days goal: 125%
Agents queried: 1
Rejections received: 10 forms, 8 closed due to no response

I honestly never knew I could write almost 25k words in a month. It would have been even more, but the first week of July was my boyfriend's last week prior to deployment, and this past week with all the other non-writing stuff it has been a little hectic. A reminder of what it is going to be like when I go back to a full time day job, but hopefully I can still find the energy and motivation to keep trucking with my writing goals. I have accomplished so much over the past 2 months, I don't want to stop now!

So for August, my goal is to finish this first draft of novel 7. Since it is painfully short so far, I estimate another 7000 words should do it. Then I'll let it sit until September. I also want to write some short stories as well as do a light revision of novel 6 before #PitchWars (which starts on August 18!). I have some ideas about novel 8, but I don't think that is going to be an August project for me. Between novel 6 and novel 7, plus toying with resurrecting novel 1, I do not need to add another project right now!

Since I will be doing a bit less original writing in August, I've revised my wordcount goals downwards. However I do still intend to be spending an equivalent amount of time, if not more, working on writing. I should really come up with some metric for editing/revisions. What can I say, I am just a metric-motivated person! So in the first week or two, while I'm finishing novel 7's draft, I'll still aim for 750 words a day. Once that wraps up, it'll drop down to 100 words per day. That puts me at a total goal of 9,600 words! Since I plan to be doing lots of writing work, I'll set my non-writing days goal at 7. One week off throughout the month should be easily doable.

With a good June and July under my belt, I am feeling more and more like a "real" writer and very ready to improve my craft and move to the next level!