A Year in Review

Back in February 2013, and at the gentle urging of my much beloved NaNoWriMo, I purchased my very own copy of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published at just over ten dollars. With it came the right to a twenty minute session with the authors to discuss my pitch. I mark that moment as the first upping of my game.

Another such moment came when I signed up for Twitter, which I had been resisting for years, mostly for pride’s sake, and began connecting with a larger writing community. Almost immediately, I tumbled headlong into the loving arms of what would become my core cadre. These folks, most of whose names have appeared on this blog multiple times, began wheedling, cajoling, teasing, and threatening me into taking the next step. And I owe them endless thanks.

I finished a final draft (for reals this time) of my book, finally embracing the idea that eventually, a baby must grow up and go out in the world to seek its fortune. I set aside the red pen that had been semi-permanently affixed to my right hand and started writing the second book. Meanwhile, I secured and regaled a group of fantastic beta readers to tell me everything that was wrong with my book. Then I wrote a novella. And finished another novel. And another one.

But my focus didn’t stay fixed on just writing novels. I started a writing blog. (And here you are. Hello!) I filled it with all my wishes, tips, and crazy adventures in the literary world. Hopefully, readers were able to find something of value on here (and I’m always open to questions and suggestions). I wrote bunches of short stories and, full of terrified misgivings, even sold a few. I began entering writing competitions. I even went to a writing convention.

Then I queried agents. (Gasp.)

It’s been a pretty productive year, I think, as far as productivity goes for the struggling wanna-be author without a dollar to her name. I didn’t make much money or sell any books, but I covered a lot of ground in networking, writing, and learning about the publishing game. Maybe some day I’ll make enough money at this to buy a cheeseburger. And I’ll definitely consider that a win.

As far as the upcoming year goes, my writing plans are few and simple. I want to complete at least two more books. And I plan to keep querying agents until my book finds its one true love. That is all. But really, that involves a lot, probably everything I did this year and more. And I’m very excited to continue this amazing literary odyssey I’ve set out on. Who knows where I could end up?

So how about you? What are your plans for this new year in writing? Lemme know in the comments below! Happy New Year and welcome back!

PS- Back in December, I declared January Beta Appreciation Month. Go hug a beta reader. It’s good for you.

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The Prodigal Author Returns

Sorry about the radio silence last week. As many of you know, I live outside of Fairbanks Alaska and our internet can be a bit spotty. Well, we lost it completely almost two weeks ago and got it fixed again this last weekend. I deeply apologize for being an unreliable, smurgy such-and-such.

As stated in the comments of my last post, I’ll be posting a chapter of my little novella Driving at Twilight for the next several weeks until the entire thing is posted. But since I missed last week, I’m going to post three chapters this week to make up for it. Hopefully that makes me less of a loser.

Chapter Two

I sometimes wondered if I should have asked for Mr. Rafferty after all. Two weeks passed and I grew reasonably certain that Mr. Kilner hated me. I didn’t know any more about him after being near nightly stuffed in his little sports car with him than I had when he first pulled up, and he knew nothing more about me. We only spoke of driving, and as little of that as possible.

Even so, we fell into a routine. I tried a different scent of shampoo every night and he eventually stopped spraying air freshener at me, content instead to just leave a window cracked. We drove around town, practicing parallel parking in the one part of town that had it, and he only commented on my driving when it was wrong. Our one hour of purgatory seemed to last a little longer each night and I was counting the days to my next attempt at getting my driver’s license.

Read More…

As always, please let me know what you think of it. Also, hopefully tomorrow, but possibly the day after that, I should have an exciting announcement for you. So stay tuned, kids! If not, I should have a perfectly rabid rant instead! 😀

Vampires and Volvos and Snark- Oh, my!

Alright, in the spirit of light-hearted fun, I managed to jam out a 27,000 word vampire novel in six days. Given that nobody in the family died of malnourishment, the house didn’t fall apart, and I didn’t lose any children, I feel pretty good about this. I might like it more if I had had more time to spend on it, but here it is, Chapter One of Driving at Twilight, for those interested in driving and Twilight. (I tried to keep the open mockery to a minimum, but it was really hard at times to keep it toned down.)

Chapter One

My grip tightened, white knuckles on a black steering wheel. I glanced in the mirror and accelerated.

The woman beside me clutched at her seat belt, face going pale. “What are you doing?”

I pushed the gas petal deeper, all the way to the floor, throwing us both back against our seats. The light flicked red.

“No! No, brakes!”

The car flew out into the intersection, engine roaring.

“Ella!”

Bright headlights flared across my face and a horn blared. The woman screamed, red fingernails embedded in the car door. Brakes shrieked in the cool autumn air and we were through. I gasped for breath, a nervous laugh of triumph in my throat, and then the woman reached over and smacked me on the side of the head with the Driver’s Manual, snarling, “What is wrong with you?”

Read more…

Husband thinks I should send a copy to the DMV. What do you think?

Parody Squared

Who here knows the laws regarding fair use? And their use in parodies? ‘Cause I don’t. Not well, anyway.

My younger sister is graduating from high school this Friday, the last of the brood. She’s also having a hard time getting her driver’s license, a phenomena which my mother attributes to her not reading the Driver’s Manual put out my our state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Mother complained that if it just had a few vampires, she might read the thing. ‘Hmmm…’ I thought, grinning. Thus was conceived the idea for a novella titled Driving At Twilight, a teenager meets vampire angsty pants story wherein our heroine tries to get her driver’s license amidst the turmoil of falling in love with a vampire whilst another is trying to kill her.

The trouble is that I’m lazy. I decided right off the bat that, aside from some driving school rather than high school tweaking, it’s pretty much going to parrot Twilight (if you couldn’t tell from the title). And I fully admit that many of the scintillatingly clever writing is pulled directly from the DMV Driver’s Manual. So is this two cheap parodies mashed together in an unholy alliance? Or is it quite simply PLAGIARISM? Ooo, that dirty word has haunted me since middle school. I’ve never committed it, but am I about to? Because it’s funny?

This is why I find myself Googling ‘fair use’ this morning. I’d rather not get sued for a joke with my little sister. And I really don’t think Stephanie Meyers would come breathing down my neck at all, except that I thought I might put it up here in a week or two, or maybe even send a copy over to the DMV so we can all giggle about it together. Does circulation complicate the matter? (Most probably yes.) I’m not planning on making any money on this. And I like to kid myself that this is educational. But, still… I’d rather not get sued.

Merriam-Webster tells us that parody is “a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule “. It further defines fair use as “a legal doctrine that portions of copyrighted materials may be used without permission of the copyright owner provided the use is fair and reasonable, does not substantially impair the value of the materials, and does not curtail the profits reasonably expected by the owner”. I don’t think I’ll be cutting in on Summit Entertainment or Ms. Meyers’ profits, nor do I think that anyone will be profiting from this at all. And I’m definitely portraying the characters’ situation as a little ridiculous. And I give the characters goofy not-quite-the-same names- so it’s gotta be a parody, right? If Fifty Shades of Grey can get away with it, this is even less threatening.

What do you think? What makes a parody sue-safe? Or a fan-fic, for that matter? Would you ever write a parody?