It Happened!

I GOT A MACBOOK!!!

Okay, I was planning to be all clever and build suspense with my revelation of this fact, but I am just too excited.

I HAVE A LAPTOP!!!

My own, my love, my precious!!I kiss you, you beautiful, beautiful thing!

For those of you who have been around here, you’ll know that my lack of laptop has been a favorite gripe of mine for at least a year. This is a post, well over a year ago, in which I was whining about it.

So yesterday, when my awesome, amazing hubby called from work and said, “Let’s get a Macbook tonight on our date,” I was blown away. I actually was thinking, I’ll believe it when I see it. And now here it is, in my hot little hands.

I have already given him a name (yes, it’s a him. Because I want to kiss it, a lot.) He shall be called The Beloved.

Here he is. Just look at him. Look at the starry eyed way I look at him. Ah, my friends, I am so happy.

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Lessons taught, Lessons learned

Today the ice cream truck drove down our quiet street. When my daughter got the hard news that we would not be purchasing any ice cream, she dissolved into a first class display of tears and mournful cries. In the midst of her anguish, she spontaneously started to draw this picture.

Note the hand, outstretched with longing. The tears and dazed sorrow on the face. Note the ice cream truck, driving away with a happy, heartless smile. And the words, since you probably can’t decipher her five-year-old handwriting: “I m sad for is cree [sic].”

As I hugged my daughter, and complimented the drawing, I explained to her that part of growing up is learning that we don’t always get what we want, even when we “really, really, really” want it. If she wanted ice cream, she would have to do her chores, earn money, and wait for the next time the truck came down the street.

I couldn’t help but smirk at my parental advice. Isn’t that the message we still have to work on as adults? Who says we’re so grown up? We still cry inwardly when we don’t get what we want. In many ways, I related and I think we can all relate to the girl in the picture. But the only thing we can do is wait, and work hard, and hopefully we will earn that reward.

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Remember my Rule?

My set in stone, unrelenting rule that I was NOT allowed on the internet during the hours my daughter is in school? Yeah . . .

Oh well, I have an excuse, sort of. Many of you know (thanks to my habit of spilling my personal dramas and turmoils all over my blog) that I have been in a bit of a dilemma with my writing. I am, literally, at a stand still–unable to make a move in either direction because I keep changing my dang mind. I have overthought this problem to an epic level, surpassing, I’m convinced, even the most hermetic of ancient philosophers.

Here’s a map of my mental processes:

7:30 a.m. Renee awakes and lies in bed for a moment, staring at the soft movement of her ceiling fan. A calm feeling comes over her. Yes, she thinks. Yes, I am going to go for it with Drone. Today. I’ll open a Word file and just start writing.

12:09 p.m.
As Renee spreads peanut butter on a second slice of bread, she is struck with the realization: how can she abandon Searcher after everything she’s been through with it? After the late nights, and tears, and moments of euphoric happiness? No, no, this is all wrong. She has to keep going, finish those edits, submit it to agents!

1:00 p.m.Children are either at school or sleeping. Renee can be found puttering around on the internet, drowning out any unpleasant dilemmas with cold Dr. Pepper and ice in a bright orange cup. (You’ll notice, of course, she’s not doing any writing.)

6:45 p.m.
Warm dishwater and the scent of Pink Grapefruit detergent awakes in Renee the understanding that her best work is still ahead of her. It is something she has to strive for. Something she has to go after. She is growing and she has to keep growing. She can’t let sentimentality keep her down.

12:38 a.m.
Renee sits on the edge of her bed. The house is quiet and dark, peaceful. She glances at the thick, printed copy of Searcher on her nightstand. Her fingers set over the words, over the frantic red and blue markings made later. And it’s all clear to her. She’s going to stay with Searcher. Yes, she’s growing, but she can put that into editing. She can make it as good as any new thing she would write. With this calm reassurance, Renee nestles down to sleep.

Repeat cycle tomorrow.

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Photoshop Friday

I usually try to keep my Photoshop Friday’s writing related, but I figured I’d digress today given the special occasion. And what occasion is that, you might ask? Today, my lovely little daughter started Kindergarten!!! BIG day. That’s why I’ve named this weeks post:

Hallelujah!

Here she is, my creative, clever, sparkling girl. (Yes, I am one of those types of parents. Unabashedly.) You should know that this picture was not posed. She has been doing this for the past week in anticipation of the big day. I honestly can’t imagine a child more excited to go school. I know she will thrive. And yes, today as I dropped her off I got all stereotypically choked up.

And this is my son. There he is, getting ready for his mid afternoon nap.

Wait, wait, wait. Mid afternoon nap? As in his daily two hour nap that he takes right during the same time that my daughter is in her afternoon Kindergarten???Then that must mean. . .

HOLY CRAP! I’m going to have two hours completely to myself every day! Two hours of pure, uninterrupted writing time. EVERY DAY!!!

When faced with a gift like this, there’s really only one thing to say. (Hit it guys!)

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In which Renee uses her blog as a Twitter substitute

“I am grateful for the wise words of people who truly understand me. You know who you are, and you rock.”

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Status Seekers and Storytellers

Tonight, during our weekly trip to Barnes and Noble, I purchased a very interesting read. The book, The Fire in Fiction by. Donald Maas begins with the suggestion that there are two kind of writers: status seekers and storytellers. Very simply put, status seekers want publication. Storytellers want to tell the best stories possible.

This really got me thinking. I wasn’t sure if I agreed at first, because what writer doesn’t want publication? And likewise, what writer doesn’t want to tell an amazing story? However, the more I analyzed it, the more I could see the difference. The more the idea rang true.

In my mind, it comes down to this. It’s not about desires or motivation, because as I said above, most writers basically want the same thing. To me, it comes down to our actions and how we approach the whole writing gig.

How do we write? How do we analyze our own work? How do we edit it? Are we trying to make our stories awesome enough to be published? Or are we trying to take this idea or these characters and give them the words and plot and feeling that they deserve?

This whole notion falls very much in line with the weighty issues I’ve been wrestling in my own mind lately. Very interesting food for thought.

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A Day Late and a Dollar Short

(curse you, small town internet problems!)

Anyway, I still wanted to send a HUGE shout out to my friend Kiersten. She just signed a THREE BOOK DEAL WITH HARPER TEEN!!!

WOO HOO!!!

Let me tell you guys, I’ve read this book and it’s brilliant. I am not surprised in the slightest that it got snapped up by editors. In fact, I think those were my very words when I emailed Kiersten my crit. “SNAPPED UP.”

Kierst, we MoMo’s have been through a lot of ups and downs together and I am totally thrilled to be able to celebrate this triumph with you.

PARANORMALCY rocks!

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A Glimpse into my Tormented Mind

For the past few days, my mind has been churning over the subject of concept, or ideas. My friend Kiersten actually wrote a post on the matter today, and it got me thinking.

Her stance is: work is what it all boils down to. Good, old fashioned hard work. And who am I to disagree? Indeed, I think few of us writers who are savvy enough to be reading/writing blogs are so deluded as to think that an idea alone will bring success. Work is a given. Good, old fashioned hard work.

However, I’m pushing the issue a little harder. Let’s really get down to nitty gritties. No easy, quick answers. Also, this post honestly isn’t a masked plea for encouragement, so (as much as I appreciate you, truly) there’s no need to interpret my remarks that way. What I really want is a fresh, hard thinking discussion.

By reading agent blogs, books on writing, and various other sources, I found that most editors/agents are looking for two simple things.

-Brilliant writing

-Great concept

Ideally, they want both, but if a submission shines in one or the other, it’s probably enough.

Now, I’m going to make a perhaps harsh assessment. I’m going to say that nearly everyone reading this is relatively new to this field (and by new, I mean that we haven’t been steadily working on our craft for ten years+.) Now because of this, I’m going to assume that none of us have reached a “brilliant” level of writing skill yet. I know I haven’t.

So what’s left? Concept.

“But hard work,” you are saying. “With hard work you can get both!” Well, of course. Remember, I stated very clearly at the beginning of this post that work is vital. But, who says I’m not working hard? I’m here to tell you I am. I work late into the night most days. When I can’t be at the computer I’m constantly thinking about, making notes about my stories in my Moleskine. I’m working. HARD.

Guess what? There are THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of aspiring writers out there who are working their butts off as well.

So what sets a story apart? Concept.

Somehow, I just can’t find a reasonable way to dismiss this argument. To me, a great concept, the kind that make people say, “Oh!” is the thing that can push us over the edge. A great concept is what gives your story that X Factor.

That’s really the key. That X Factor. A story can be good. Very good, even. And you can work until your fingers bleed to make it great. But like I said, there are THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of writers out there, all doing the same thing. Without a great concept, you might just be spinning your wheels.

So, my concluding question is this. Is there something sacred about a completed novel? Does writing the words “The End” commit you to seeing the editing/revision process all the way through? All the way to the acceptable 100 query rejections? Or should we look at each novel as a learning experience? Should we take what we need to take from it, and wait until we really have something great to put our all into?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. I really don’t. This is just what has been spinning around in my mind lately. I truly would love to hear what you think.

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Photoshop Friday

Ideas, in their Many Forms

As writers, we are constantly on the lookout for new ideas. And, if the Muses are kind, they come to us eventually. I’ve been thinking lately about the different ways that these idea arrive. Here are a few I’ve met.

The Go Nowhere
I begin with, arguably, the most common type of idea. Maybe it was a dream that was particularly memorable, (like my dream about the boy who had a telepathic connection with a shark. True story.) These ideas may excite us for a while, but eventually, we all know where they lead us.

The Scary One
And by scary, I don’t mean the substance of the idea, I mean the way it comes. It’s powerful, we can see that. It’s also wild. We have to approach it oh so carefully. We can’t meet it in the eye. We can’t let it see our fear. If we run up to this idea too quickly, it will attack. So we wait. We let it earn our trust. And maybe, in time, it will take us to it’s den.

The Sweep You Off your Feet Idea
What writer doesn’t love these kind of ideas? Oh baby. These are the ones that appear in a beam of white light, stunning us with their glory. Note the strong arms, this idea has the stuff to make it. Note the confident grip. Don’t be afraid, he says, I will carry us all the way to “The End.” Note the white stallion. He will hoist us up into his arms and we will ride blissfully into Publication Castle.


The Tricky Little Bugger

Some ideas come, and we know they are good, but they just keep going berserk on us. They slip and slide, here and there. One minute they try to run away, but then they are climbing up our legs. It’s annoyingly tricky to get these ones clean and ready for drafting.

The Slow and Steadys
When it all comes down to it, sometimes an idea just takes work. These kinds of ideas may not blow us away with their brilliance, but we can see the potential. We know that with time, and some steady work, they will be good, even great. These are the least glamorous, but perhaps the most trustworthy.

As I did with my Writer’s Field Guide, I open the comments section to all you. What kinds of ideas did I miss? Share with us, and maybe I’ll make an Ideas Part 2.

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Tomorrow, I swear.

Today has been a very busy day. I’ve been running all over town, getting things ready for one very special moment. And what moment was that? Well, I finally submitted my short story to the Writers of the Future Contest!

Let me tell you, it was a very satisfying moment to put my baby into that big manila envelope and get it all stamped. As I left the post office, I glanced back and saw it sitting in the pile with other to be mailed items. I was grinning from ear to ear. Not because I think I stand much of a chance at winning, but because I’m finally doing it again, you know? I’m back in the game.

It’s been SO long since I’ve made any real attempts to do anything. I stopped querying in January. So, it’s great to be back in play. As for the contest, I understand it will take three months to hear back, so here’s to waiting! :)

Speaking of waiting, I will post my Photoshop Friday tomorrow.

And that’s a Renee Collins guarantee. You can take it to the bank and cash it.

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