The Plunge

I did it. Yes, I did.

I took the Twitter plunge. You should now be able to find my Twitter “rants” on this website, but feel free to follow me on Twitter!

My handle is akdoepker. Basically, it gives away my real name, but I’m okay with that. I intend to publish under my own, so it isn’t some secret anymore.

I fought this for years, and I’m still not very happy about it, but I hope it will be a fruitful and fun exercise.

What’s your Twitter handle? I’d love to follow my bloggy friends! And don’t get too fed up with me too quickly. I’m going to be a Twitter noob for a while.

Happy writing!

“Twitter—up to the minute minute details.”
― Jarod KintzThis Book is Not FOR SALE

Writer’s Can’t Quit

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This just about sums up where I’ve been with my writing recently. For the past few weeks, I hadn’t been all that productive, and it was driving me insane! But I couldn’t quit. I CAN’T quit! Because writers don’t know how to do that. Because it’ll literally make me nutty if I’m not able to get it down on paper. The blessing and curse of being a writer, I suppose.

If you read my guest post at John Guillen’s blog earlier in the month, you’ll know that I’m a big advocate (for myself, anyways), of combining pantsing (writing by the seat of your pants), and using the standard plotting techniques.

If you need some ideas for how to plot, I suggest you check out the post. It has some great ideas!

Anywho… back to my conundrums…

Despite my advocating a combination of pansting and plotting, I didn’t realize that I was relying solely on pantsing for the last couple of weeks. And this really doesn’t work for me.

The series I’m writing is complicated (to manage, not read), and it requires a lot of foreshadowing, planning, and meticulous attention to details, as there are so many details, they can get a bit out of hand if I don’t keep them wrangled with firm grasp.

So why did I ever think I could manage all that by pantsing? There’s just no way to keep all the details straight in my head, but, silly me, I must have thought I have the brain of – well – I don’t know what kind of brain could keep all those details straight without plotting some of them.

Yesterday I finally bit the bullet and organized the second book into a VERY informal outline.

As in, I wrote a short paragraph for each chapter detailing the necessary components that must be included in order to move the story along and also to foreshadow at the right moments. But the particulars of each chapter is left to my pantsing ability, which I’m thrilled to say got a solid workout after my informal plotting session.

At this point, it looks like there’ll be 35 chapters (the same as my first book, but that’s just a coincidence), and I’m shooting for 120,000 words. Which will probably be edited down to 100,000 or close.

I had about 8,000 words yesterday before plotting. Today I already have 11,000, and they’re coming fast and furious now that I have a solid direction again.

And in between all my pantsing and plotting, I’m making time for brainstorming sessions, as the third book in the series is still a little foggy. I know what needs to happen in the end, but the plot to that point is still lurking in the vat of creative stew that’s twirling around in my brain.

I hope you all are having equal success in your writing and creative endeavors! I’d love to hear what you’re working on!

Happy writing!

 

“For all my longer works (i.e. the novels) I write chapter outlines so I can have the pleasure of departing from them later on.” 
― Garth Nix

“In the world of your story, your outline is like the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, your characters are all Atheists.” 
― Jefferson Smith

Happy Hundred and MUCH More!!

Hey, there, fellow bloggers and friends!

Today, I surpassed 100 followers on my blog! I cannot tell you how much it means to me. Thanks for supporting me and laughing with me and critiquing me as I make my way into publication.

And for more exciting news…….

I had a request for my full manuscript from an agency!!!

 

SQUEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to find a picture that accurately represents my excitement, but there just is not one to be found! AHHH!!!

Now, I’m being realistic (despite how much I’m jumping up and down for glee!), and I know this is a LONG way from landing an agent or any kind of publishing deal.

But it SO made my day. Maybe even my year! I did NOT anticipate hearing back from anyone in a positive way for many more months, so this has been a boon to my creative juices and my self-esteem.

I couldn’t even finish my dinner because I was nearly hyperventilating. So, alas, my peanut butter/banana sandwich lies neglected. Sorry, samich. This is MUCH more exciting! I immediately called my parents, who have never wavered in their love and support of my writing, but could barely talk because I was so choked up with astonishment and squealing like a greased pig!! (Ew. That’s a gross reference).

I just had to share with you all. Even if this takes me nowhere past sending a full manuscript, it’s still a sign that people do like my work and that I’m headed in the right direction.

As are you! Keep trudging along, fellow writers/reader/tinkerers! I wish you every single joy and blessing I can think of!! (I’m feeling pretty magnanimous right now).

Now… let’s see if my stomach will calm enough to finish my dinner.

I’m thinking….

NOT!!!

 

Happy writing!

 

“When I finally find that one willing agent, I’ll have found my prize in the Cracker Jack box.” 
― Richelle E. Goodrich

 

Aside

Rejected… THIS time around…

Sigh.

Today, just now, in fact, I received my first rejection notice via e-mail. I sent the query to this particular place only yesterday, so I obviously wasn’t a good fit for them.

I’m not going to cry about it, and although I’ve prepped myself for months in anticipation of rejection letters, this first one stings a bit. The notice was quite cordial, so I can’t even be mad at the agency (which shall remain nameless).

They said: “Thank you for your query. Unfortunately, your manuscript doesn’t sound like something that’s right for us. We wish you the best of success in placing your work elsewhere.”

See? How can I be mad about that? Hmm???

One thing I take heart in is that so many of the greatest authors (and I do not consider myself one of them) were rejected multiple times before they found representation.

Let’s look at the statistics, shall we?

 

Louis L’Amour: 200 rejections. (Yikes! I hope I have the stamina and wherewithal if my numbers reach that high).

Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen (editors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul): 140 rejections.

Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind): 38 rejections (I think I could live with that).

Stephenie Meyer (shudder): 14 rejections

Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time): 26 publisher rejections

Audrey Niffenegger (The Time Traveler’s Wife): 25 rejections

Kathryn Stockett (The Help): 60 rejections

Frank Herbert (Dune): 23 rejections

Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook): 24 rejections

John Grisham (A Time to Kill): 16 agencies and 12 publishing rejections

Jack London: 600 rejections!!! YEESH!! Poor guy!

And…. J.K. Rowling: 12 rejections. (By publishers, that is. I can’t find the stats for agencies).

 

Well… that’s quite a range of numbers up there. I’m just going to go ahead and dismiss the outliers. There’s my high school geometry coming back to haunt me. So, if I take the median(ish) number, I can expect around 20-30 rejections. Which means I haven’t even scratched the surface of how many rejections I’m going to get.

I’m taking this as the ultimate challenge. I will NOT give up. I will keep working and writing and editing and revising and CREATING, because that’s what I’ve been called to do.

Bring on the rejection letters, people! I’m ready to fight!!!

 

boxing_glove_pic(http://www.rgvgoldengloves.org/boxing_glove_pic.jpg)

 

They haven’t heard the last from me!!! Mwahahahaha!!!!! *wringing hands evilly*
 

Happy writing, everyone!

 

 

“This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don’t consider it rejected. Consider that you’ve addressed it ‘to the editor who can appreciate my work’ and it has simply come back stamped ‘Not at this address’. Just keep looking for the right address.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.” – Sylvia Plath

“As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection.”
—Carol Leifer

 

Writer’s Hangover

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Ugh… I’m suffering through a writing hangover from two straight days of editing and writing. In two different books. And the writing part was an emotionally charged scene with lots of tears and dramatic revelations.

My heart was pounding and I could feel my blood pressure rising just writing the darned scene. But that’s a good thing, right?

It’s not the first time this has happened. For some reason, I do some of my best work late at night, despite the fact that I’m usually an early bird. When I woke up this morning, I had a headache, achy joints, and a bad taste in my mouth.

I don’t regret the writing that was accomplished, but isn’t there some way that I can get through days/nights like that without waking up feeling like the underside of a wet garbage bag?

Does this happen to anyone else?

Please share. And happy writing! (Hopefully without the hangover).

 

 “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

– Robert Frost

“Happiness is, waking up without a hangover.” 
― Robert Black

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Google Images and UShumor.com)

 

Works in Progress

So I’ve been re-reading my former posts and realize I’ve been fairly vague on the type of books I’m writing. The only real mention of specifics is in my author interview from last week. Thanks, again, for that, Rachel!!

When I figure out how to create a drop-down menu with my current works in progress, I’ll get right to it, but since I’m such a noob at interwebs stuff, I guess I’ll describe a little bit about what I’m writing in a post.

The genres are wide-ranging and the topics dissimilar, so I hope I can pull them all off. I have an interest in so many genres that my brain just won’t shut up about invading every genre I love.

So here it goes, the following is a (brief!) synopsis of my current projects, and the progress I’ve made in them.

(All images courtesy of Google Images)

 

1. The Phantom Apprentice

ImageA middle grade fantasy series which begins when the MC, Ava, is 12 years old. She finds out she’s a phantom, which is a magical race of beings that are called to be guardians of the earth. Ava finds out she’s a crucial player in the success of the entire magical world, not just for her phantom race. I won’t give away exactly how yet, but there’s something special about Ava that sets her apart from everyone else in the phantom world. She has to go to boot camp, which requires a great deal of physical, emotional, psychological, and strategic training. Phantoms infiltrate all levels of society in order to perform their sacred duties, so they have to be immersed in hardship before they’re sent out on their own.

The series will consist of seven books.

Book One – Title: The Phantom Apprentice – Book of the Scribes. Complete at 105,000 words. Currently sending out queries to agents.

Book Two – plotted, partially written. About 20,000 of 120,000 words completed.

Book Three – plotted, minor writing completed.

Book Four – plotted, unwritten.

Book Five – plotted, unwritten.

Book Six – plotted, minor writing completed.

Book Seven – plotted, epilogue and a few chapters completed.

 

It’s quite an undertaking, I know, and the amount of research I’ve poured into this is staggering, but this HAS to be written. I began it eleven years ago, just as I was finishing high school. The majority of college and grad school (7.5 years total), was spent working the plot, researching, planning, reading, immersing, etc. Since I have a full time job and a few on the side, my writing time is limited, and when I take time off, they’re often ‘writing vacations’ so that I can get some work done. If I could find a way to work from home, or make enough money to write full time, I’d do it. That’s the dream, but for now, I’m paying my bills and writing as often as I can.

 

2. A Winger and a Prayer

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This is a squeaky clean RomCom centering around a made-up NHL team located in Houston. I needed a city big enough to support an NHL franchise that didn’t already have one. I plan on traveling there (if I ever have enough money), so that I can get the feel and flavor of the city. The heroine is basically me, and the hero is a pro hockey player. It’s essentially a love story that comes from the romantic part of my heart that is so often squelched by too many other things. It’s the story of my dream man. But don’t worry, he hasn’t ruined me for regular men. 🙂

Although it’s a RomCom, there are quite a few dark moments in it based on my past, my mom’s past, and the past of a friend of mine. I cried while writing parts of it, and LOL’d at others. It is a stand alone book with the potential for a series if there is interest. I love hockey, and am usually drawn towards eras other than my own, but I’ve found that I love to write in this modern romantic tale, so it’d be wonderful to develop other story lines from this book.

Progress: 50,000 words out of a proposed 80-90,000.

 

3. Prisoner Z

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This is a huge veer off my normal light-hearted writing. It’s a dark, futuristic dystopian book where society has “progressed” to the point of bigotry-induced forced slavery and genocide. This is a first person narrative (another veer from my normal third person POV), and is probably the darkest thing I’ve ever thought to write. The book is dripping with hopelessness, depression, suicidal tendencies, mass destruction, chaos, brutality, and a tiny ray of light that is continually squelched, only to pop up again. The three main characters are a 17 year-old boy (POV, age may change), a priest in his 50s, and a young woman about 20. The relationships between the three are interesting, to say the least. I won’t give away the ending, but it’ll make you cry. And, hopefully, make you think a good deal about the direction our society is heading.

Progress: plotting underway, minor writing begun.

 

4. Untitled Manuscript on Purgatory

This is basically based off an intensely vivid dream I had about Purgatory a few years ago. Set in a tall office building, Jesus appears to each person in a different form and challenges them in ways they don’t understand. Only if they pass the test do they proceed to Heaven. They’re tested as many times as necessary until they understand who He is and what He’s asking of them.

St. Peter sits in a wrinkled business suit behind a battered desk and pulls thick charts from filing cabinets that line the room.

Progress: 5,000 words of a projected 100-120,000

 

5. Untitled Murder Mystery

A friend of mine and I from grad school started writing this during our lunch breaks. It’s based around a couple who can’t have kids and adopts about six or seven of them. The mother/wife is murdered, and each child is implicated in her death. It’s dark, for sure, but there are lighter moments, as well.

Progress: plotting underway, minor writing completed.

 

6. Untitled Religious Satire

Set in a bygone era, it centers around a royal family in a make-believe kingdom. But there’s a catch. The royals aren’t seated in some fine castle with servants at their beck and call. Their job is to watch over their people, and they do that by immersing themselves in the work and culture of their time. They work side-by-side with their subjects, but are called on when evil lurks from another kingdom.

Progress: plotting underway. No formal writing completed.

 

7. Untitled Dystopian Future

Another dark, foreboding book which follows a soldier as he makes his way through the mires of another war. Set in the United States, where factions of allies are separated by the enemy, he has to make his way to his superiors without being caught, or without the vital information he carries being stolen from him.

It’ll be a bit bloody, but all wars are.

Progress: plotting underway. No formal writing completed.

 

8. Untitled Orphan Fantasy

This book (possible series) follows a blind, deaf, mute orphan who is shipped from one foster home to another. Each time, he is taken during the middle of the night by a band of elves, dwarves, and fairies to their land. There, his maladies are magically wiped away and he is taken through an adventure that shapes him into more of the person he is meant to be. This is geared towards lower middle grade readers, as the MC is about 8 years-old.

 

9. Untitled Historical Fiction 1

This will be a series of books set in northern California during the late 1800s, after the Civil War. There are four siblings, one brother and three sisters. Each sibling will have their own book. Yes, they will find love in each of them, but I love the setting and era, so there will be quite a lot of historical tidbits in each. Their parents were missionaries and were killed during a massive hurricane while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The brother is the oldest, and they run a successful ranch from their mother’s inheritance, who was born a blue-blood in Boston high society. Each sibling is different from the others and has a distinct personality that links them to their surroundings and their friends.

Progress: plotting underway. Book one writing begun.

 

10. Untitled Historical Fiction 2

This is set in Texas, again in the late 1800s. It revolves around twin sisters who are bounty hunters. One of them is killed, and the other must find refuge from the person who wants to kill her. She ends up in a family of 12 children after a marriage of convenience, and hides her real identity from her husband, needing the protection the family affords, but also because she doesn’t want to place any of them in danger. Obviously, everything catches up to her and she’s torn between protecting the family she’s grown to love, or protecting herself.

Progress: plotting underway. Minor writing completed.

 

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Phew! That was quite a task. All ideas are copyrighted to me, of course. (I know I don’t technically have to say that, but the interwebs freaks me out sometimes when it comes to intellectual property).

If you’ve made it this far, I’d love to hear some feedback. And thanks for reading my lengthy post! These are the top ten projects I’ve got going right now, and I have about a dozen more than are in development, but not enough yet to share here.

Happy writing, everyone!

 

 

Norwegian Rhapsody

Have you ever seen the wild beauty of Norway? I haven’t – at least, not in person. And that’s a crying shame.

Norway is one of the settings in my middle grade book series, and I’ve been researching it for a long time. It’s beauty is captivating.

Have a look…

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Gorgeous, right? And what about this…

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I love this one! So much fodder for the imagination. Who does the boat belong to? What is the fog hiding? How would it be to hike up those mountains? What kind of magical creature could come from such a place?

Are there any countries/states/counties, etc. that speak to you? Whenever I look at pictures of Norway, I am filled with an intense longing to see it up close. I never cease to be inspired to produce a bounty of writing whenever I gaze at pictures like this.

Nature is such a part of who I am. Although I dislike bugs (yuck!), I feel much more comfortable surrounded by the wildness and untamed beauty of nature than the car-filled, smog-ridden streets of a big city. I will probably refrain from writing too many books centered in a big city. Moderate-sized cities only on the horizon. But I never say never.

Whenever I’m in a pot of writer’s block, I pull up all the images I’ve saved on my computer that reflect the settings I want to portray in my books, and off I go! Even if all that comes of it is a few sentences, it’s a step in the right direction. As Jack London so eloquently put it, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

I agree 100% with that statement. True writers write when they have nothing coming to mind. They write when they’re inspired, and they write when they’re not. They write in times of keen loss, and in times of overwhelming joy. They write because they have something to say, and they write when they have nothing to say (which sometimes produces the best results).

So what do you do to inspire yourself? How do you chase inspiration with a club? Are there any cities/countries/counties/states, etc. that leave you breathless with desire and passion for your work? Please, comment and share!

“The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

– Chris Baty