Thursday, July 12, 2012

Delving into your Art (Without Destroying Everything Else)

I love this music video and the opening quote. I have been busy "forcing" myself into the "secrets" of my art and trying to balance that with five kids home for summer vacation. Yeah, it doesn't balance very easily.

The past couple of weeks have been full of critiques given and received and the looming dread of major rewrites. Augh!

But this week I have plunged into major surgery [liposection (of excess wordage) and a bypass (of a side plot that is unproductive)]. 
I knew I was neglecting my blog. But I just wanted to sign on for a few moments and tell you that I'm still here, I'm just elbow deep in bloody revisions (metaphorically speaking).

I almost wasn't here, though. Or at least my house almost wasn't. See, I almost burned it down.
Its kind of a funny story, actually.
After five days of rain, my five boys were absolutely stir crazy and we HAD to get out of the house. 
We spent half the day at the zoo until our stomachs were empty and our feet sore. We came home for lunch and before we went out again, I put some beans on to soak. I meant to give them a quick boil before going out with the kiddos to the library and the grocery store.
(Zoo, Library and Grocery Store all in one day?!? Yes, dear, but they had been watching Season One of "He-man: Masters of the Universe" for the past three days and we NEEDED to be out and about. Plus I was almost out of bread, milk and most importantly, Popsicles.)

So we enjoyed collecting new reading material and new DVDs at the library. I browsed the YA section, finding awesome new gems and puzzled over rewrites as I scanned through Easy Readers and Middle Grade for the kiddos and then scooted down the road five miles to Wal-Mart. It was when I was parking my van when I remembered the beans.

Surely, I had remembered to turn off the stove. 
But, sadly no, I could not remember doing so. And it had been over an hour since I they had started.


I raced out of the Wal-Mart parking lot and hollered at the kids to start praying. Of course, I was stuck behind the driver who cautiously drove five miles under the speed limit almost the whole entire way!!!

As we careened past the gates of our neighborhood my oldest craned his neck out the window. "I don't see smoke...yet!"

The house LOOKED fine from the outside. It was still standing. But when I got near the door I could hear the smoke alarm wailing. And the entire first floor was full of smoke. The big, heavy bottomed pan sat on the stove with what looked like little charcoals glowing inside. 

I moved it off the heat and started opening doors and windows, and thanking God for protecting the house despite my foolishness.

Eight hours later, it still smells like we held a Phillip Morris convention in our living room, but we are so grateful to still have a living room, so we just spray a little more Glade and smile.

And though I will continue my revisions and caring for my family, I'm gonna try to keep one sliver of my brain reserved for double checking stove tops and other potential hazards to the distracted writer.

I hope you all are happy in your own creative pursuits and staying safe this summer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Third Time the Charm?

Oh, my goodness! I was so excited when I read today that I was chosen as the First prize winner on Heather Webb's latest Query Corral Blog Hop! I'm not sure if it was for Most Improved or Best of Show. But I am amazed, because there were some really great writers out there who had great queries. 
I am grateful for the advice and feedback from everyone the past week. It has helped tremendously. I have yet ANOTHER version of my query that I will post. 

For all you non-writers, this may seems redundant. But believe me, from what I understand, a few phrases can win over an agent or send your query straight to the shredder. So revise, revise, revise is the advice from all the experienced folk out there. I actually am using this to send for an "Agent's Wishlist" contest I entered through Kat Bauer's 'Crits for Water' campaign. If anybody sees any problems, please let me know. I'm planning on sending it out July 3rd afternoon.

"Dear Dream Agent:

I am so pleased to have the opportunity, through Crits for Water, to share THE CHESTNUT MAID, a YA adventure/romance. It is complete at 100,000 words with two alternating points-of-view set in the late medieval period. It is comparable to “Scarlet” by A.C. Gaughen. It is a stand-alone novel with series potential. This manuscript was requested after a pitch session with a representative from Chronicle Books at the SCBWI-Arkansas conference.

Anna-Maria de Savonie’s first romance ended badly with drugged wine, daggers and quite a bit of blood. Unsavory rumors still swirl about, and there hasn’t been a nuptial nibble in nearly two years. Anna is grateful, but with her seventeenth birthday come and gone, her father isn’t. He offers her up as the matrimonial prize, in a grand jousting tournament. Not wanting to shame her family with more scandal, Anna plays the demure princesa, but is determined to find one decent fellow among the strutting suitors, who might offer her more than four strong castle walls.

Cornelius didn’t give a tinker’s patch for the crown of Verdebois, but after a series of suspicious deaths in his family, it’s his. Now, which task will prove more difficult, keeping the throne (and his life) or wooing a bride? He bungles the wooing bit, and Anna-Maria rejects him forthwith. Seething, he gallops homeward, only to be ambushed by brigands. Cornelius crawls back to the Savonie castle, beaten, beggared and in disguise. With the suitors gone, he discovers the princesa to be tender and tenacious.

Letters soon arrive from the new regent of Verdebois announcing Cornelius’ death and demanding recompense – a crippling amount of gold, or the marriage of Anna to a cruel Verdeboyne noble. Cornelius, disguised as a down-on-his-luck fiddler, impulsively offers to hide her amongst the minstrel-folk if she marries him instead. His deception may ensure her safety and enable him to search for the villain who’s stealing his throne, but heaven help him if Anna ever learns the truth. She’ll finish the job the brigands started.

I received a degree in Fine Arts from BYU-Idaho, which helps in the medieval world-building of the novel. I am a member of SCBWI, MyWANA creative network, and participated in F2K writing workshops through Writing Village University.

            Thank you for your time and consideration."

Again, thanks so much to all the helpful writers and bloggers out there who helped me find the weak points. I appreciate your time and energy invested in my work.