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    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

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    Between Love and Lust
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    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
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Maine Crime Wave

Yesterday, I was in Portland (Maine) attending the Maine Crime Wave writing conference. This was my first time attending a conference devoted to writing. I've started dipping my toe into the world of crime fiction with Safe Word. I've only read a handful of crime novels (Janet Evanovich, Greg Iles and Paul Doiron), but I have been following the Maine Crime Writers' blog. So it was quite fun to recognize some people by name and even get to talk to them.

The panels ranged from what falls under the umbrella of crime writing to the business of writing. There were several concurrent workshops. I attended on about building tension (with Julia Spencer-Fleming) and another about setting (with Kate Flora and Paul Doiron). The day was capped off with a panel about investigative details with Detective Sergeant Bruce Coffin and former Maine Warden Roger Guay

My favorite part of the conference other than listening to career authors speak was having a chance to meet them and talk with other fiction writers working toward publication. I've never been very good at mingling at the scientific conferences I've attended. However, I was more than happy to chat people up about their writing and tell them about my own. I sat down next to Lea Wait at one of the workshop and had a fun discussion with her about romance and erotica authors.

The keynote speaker was Tess Gerritsen. She spoke about what compels authors to write about crime and why readers love it.  

The conference was a decent size for its first year with about 70 attendees. I hope it will be offered again next year. High recommend to anyone writing crime or fiction with crime elements.


Queries, submission and rejections

Another month and another round of queries, submission and rejections. 

Wolf Creek - still only getting form rejection emails to my queries (7 rejections out of 11 queries sent).

Boson's Mate - waiting on a reply although with the title of the anthology changed to Valves and Vixens, I'm not certain my gay erotic steampunk will find a home in this anthology.

Little Monster - first submission was rejected, but I've submitted it to another horror submission call.

Gold Song - first submission was rejected. I'm not confident this story has a home, so it's digitally trunked for now.

Brainatarian (short story about a picky-eater zombie) - April short story submitted today.

I've decided to view each rejection letter as an opportunity to make another first impression with someone who might love the story.

On to finding more submission calls, sending more agent queries and hopefully something accepted somewhere.


Writing Worry #23: Losing spoons

There is a popular analogy to explain what it's like to have a chronic condition involving spoons. Basically, a person starts their day with a certain number of spoons. Each activity they do requires a certain amount of energy or spoons. From getting dressed to going grocery shopping, we often neglect how much effort it takes just to accomplish everyday tasks. For someone with a chronic disease, these spoons are limiting. They can't go into the drawer and pull out more spoons.

I'm not suffering from a chronic condition, but I've recently had my energy level dropped to about 75% to 60% of normal. It's been a few weeks now and is likely to continue for a few more weeks. It's given me a whole new understanding of the spoons metaphor.

As much as I try to go about my usual schedule, I just don't have as much energy as I used to. Just getting through the work day - and I have a desk job that while stationary requires a lot of mental energy to read and interpret scientific publications - uses up most of my energy. When I get home, there is still the dog to walk and dinner to make. On good days, I get those done, clean up and do a little writing. My husband is in the middle of repainting the upstairs, and I don't have the energy to help with that.

What happens to writing time when you have less spoons?

Writing takes a surprising amount of energy. I've got excellent suggestions from my two writing groups for improving a scene in Safe Words and my April short story contribution. These notes have yet to leave the page they were written on last week. Gone is my writing time during the commute. I just can't handle the motion sickness. My evening writing time greatly depends on how worn out I feel. On good weeks, I write at least once. On bad weeks, I try to read and juggle a handful of evening meetings that zap the last of my energy.

At least there is an end in site. Good days are starting to out number bad days. I'm getting more done, but I won't be back to 100% energy levels for a while. Until then I try to manage the guilt of not getting as much done as I want with the realization that my body needs me to slow done. If I try to use spoons I don't have, I end up having far fewer the next day.

It just reinforces how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity to write.


Writing Worry #22: It's not as good as I think

Here I am again. A little over a year ago, I was lamenting about my second draft fears. That novel (Wolf Creek) is completed, was beta read and is being submitted (and rejected) by agents. 

November brought another NaNoWriMo first draft. December and January involved retooling the outline and expanding the plot. Now I'm into re-writes and the dreading second draft.

Compared with last year, I am started with about the same amount of words but a far more complete plot. I still want to add another 20K words, probably with the serial killers POV as she hunts down and tries to frame Dr. Riley for the murders of his former submisives. 

I'm about 40 pages into the re-writes and working at a glacial pace. It seems like there's always something more pressing to do like a short story submission or working on an outline for a collaborative project. Or I don't feel like writing in the car, which is the bulk of my writing time.

Then it hit me. I've nervous about these re-writes because I fear that this story isn't as good as I think it is. I digging the characters and love blending erotic elements with murder. I think I've finally come up with a concept that an agent will want to sell. 

And I'm scared I will mess it up.

Stories are so perfect in thought. Writing the first draft is like an extend daydream that no one has to know about. The second draft means sharing with my writing groups my progress - or lack there of - and readings. I could skip the readings, but I need feedback about the story progression and character development. I'm already in love with this novel, but I know no one else will get a chance to fall in love with it until it's cleaned up.

I'm reminded of a recent Freakanomics episode about perceived loss. The only way my novel will get a chance to see publication is if I re-write it and share it. Otherwise it's definitely not getting published sitting as a first draft on my computer.


A month of letters

Last year I found out about the Month of Letters too late to feel like I could accomplish the challenge issued by Mary Robinette Kowal of sending as many letters as there were mailing days in February. I did take the opportunity to write to her as a fan of her Glamourist Histories series.

I had completely forgotten about the challenge until last Thursday when I saw a blog post related to it. A little late, but it is a great excuse to write letters. The Month of Letters website contains numerous participants sharing their mailing addresses to gain pen pals to write to and keeps track of their accomplishments throughout the month. I particularly love the achievement challenges.

In the last two days, I've sent 10 letters and one package. This includes a letter to a newly diagnosed cancer patient via Girls Love Mail. I also sent a letter and some coffee to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 out of Gulport Mississippi. I've sent letters to relatives and to random people on the lettermo website.

I love writing letters, but even more I love receiving them. So let's hope I get a replies.