I made a crappy graphic! Yay. If you're wondering, the not-crappy picture I ruined is from an old art type edition of Tom Sawyer, and the author on the spine is Samuel Clemens. My mother-in-law gave it to me. It's gorgeous. And I almost fell over.

I made a crappy graphic! Yay. If you’re wondering, the not-crappy picture I ruined is from an old art type edition of Tom Sawyer, and the author on the spine is Samuel Clemens. My mother-in-law gave it to me. It’s gorgeous. And I almost fell over.

Welcome, welcome, to today’s edition of Sunday, My Prints Will Come! If you’ve never been here on a Sunday before, well, Sundays are for writers round these parts. I know, I know. I cheated a bit this week, what with the pitch talk and all the biz shtick. Whoops. I’ll give you a shiny present this week. Or something.

Those of you who have been diligently reading all of my flailing lately (which has had few linear qualities to it, for which I apologise), you’ll know Spouse and I were on the brink of our own fiscal cliff.

Couple that with me having bronchitis that morphed into pneumonia, my grandmother’s passing, and sneaking up on the year anniversary of a beloved cousin’s death, I haven’t been in the best state of humanity. In fact, I’ve been a bit like Stefan Salvatore trying not to drink human blood, but without all the push-ups and veiny-face. Well. Some of the veiny-face.

I WANT ALL THE HUMANS.

That led to a tearful conversation with my friend Kristin over Gchat the other day in which I saw my future splayed out in front of me like someone had stretched it out on a torture rack. I was going to have to go find a 9-5 job, one that paid more than I’m making now and had lots of benefits. I was going to have to still work where I do on weekends for extra money. We were going to have to declare bankruptcy and wouldn’t be able to buy a home until we were 40 and our kids were in middle school.

And I was going to have to stop writing.

Right about at that point, my tear-splotched face did this:

 

I thought about the last time I had a more typical job. How exhausted I was. How anxious all the time. How I (already a night owl) couldn’t sleep until 4 AM because work stressed me out so much and then I had to get up at 6 and drive an hour to get there. I’d come home — a couple times a week as late as 10 or 11 PM and just fall apart.

Until I had a car accident and got knocked flat for five weeks. Then I started writing again.

The writing? If you go back to the beginning — the veeeeery beginning, which probably only N.E. White and Kana Tyler remember — you’ll see I picked it up again right around then. Writing got me back on my feet. I picked up my then-WIP again. I started exercising. Healing in more ways than one.

I quit the stressful job and got something that was more physically taxing, but more flexible in hours. Waiting tables ain’t glamourous, but shhhhh, I make as much as I did teaching.

And somewhere in there, I realised I had to see what writing could be for me. It was a dream I kept clutched tight to my chest. So tightly there were sweat marks and wrinkles in the surface of it.

The thought of going back to the way things were before, with me frazzled and miserable and so sleep deprived I cried at falling maple seeds — that about crumbled me. When I got off the computer with Kristin, I fell into Spouse’s arms and bawled.

Oh, fuckles. Now I’m gonna cry, and then he’s gonna cry, and we’re all gonna cry.

I don’t know if there’s a time in my life I’ve ever felt like such a failure. 28, with a degree that plunged me into $50,000 of debt, one year of grad school for a job I couldn’t take that lumped another $15,000 on top of it, a car loan, credit card debt, and an apartment threatening us with eviction.

For about ten minutes, I felt like I’d been running in place for a decade.

Ten years. I could have gotten a job waiting tables straight out of high school, and I could be better off financially than I am right now with a degree.

I graduated in 2008, officially the Worst Year in the last oh, eighty, for that to happen. And with a history degree, my best option was pretty much a server’s apron or another three years of university and another $50-100,000 in debt.

For about ten minutes, my brain went to a very depressed place.

And then something snapped.

It didn’t happen immediately. I didn’t just perk up and start singing Kumbaya at the top of my voice.

I haven’t seen the writing through yet. I’m not done. I still have a few subs out (thank you, Kristin, for that reminder). They’re not no’s yet. I still haven’t heard back about Pitch Wars. And I have another 30 or so agents on my list to query. It’s not over. And if not this book, then maybe the next one.

Today?

Spouse got the mail. And there was a hand-addressed envelope in the post box. It contained a very generous gift from a family member I haven’t seen in ages. A total and complete shock. It was enough to make sure that we’ll get through this month once added to our income. It will probably even allow us to have a very nice Christmas dinner.

The point is that I’ve got to keep trying. I am going to wrap up my WIP this week and then put it aside for a month. In that time, I’m going to do a couple things:

Send out some more queries for Shrike.

There are a few agents I haven’t  queried yet who I’m really excited about. One represents a fellow Montana author whose books are on sale in the grocery store we always shopped at in Florence, Montana. Another is nuts about urban fantasy and might be a good fit.

Not this The Craft.

Go back to the craft.

No, not the 90s-style Robin Tunney and Fairuza Balk  The Craft. Writing. There’s a new book out by Donald Maass that I want to read. I’ll probably go through Breakout Novel again too, and continue with The Art of War for Fiction Writers by James Scott Bell. Oh, and of course Margie Lawson. I will keep trying to get better. And better. Until agents fight over me like a juicy lamb chop thrown to a sled team at the end of the Iditarod.

Plot the new book.

I’ve been throwing around an idea for a magical realism book for a while now. While the current WIP is in its out-of-sight-out-of-mind phase, I’ll sit down and flesh out this concept a bit more. I have the log line and query already (well, early incarnations of both). We’ll go from there.

Pick up shifts at work.

This might sound counter-productive for all the other things, but if I want to go to any conferences this year, they will have to be budgeted for months ahead. Meaning now. If I can pick up two extra shifts per week and put half the money in savings, I should be able to pull it off AND add extra to our bank account.

So that’s the plan. Always good to have a plan, right? Keep your eyes on the progress bar to the right — if it doesn’t hit completion by the fifteenth, rain down fury.

 

Announcing The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest!

Announcing The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest!

Did you miss the End of the World in July? Participate but have been secretly yearning for another Emmie contest?

I heard those secret yearnings.

And because I heard those secret yearnings, I’ve teamed up with the fabulous Kristin McFarland to bring you a creeptacular flash fiction extravaganza.

Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: There will be a post bearing eerie similarity to this one that goes up at 0900 sharp on 15 October. On that day, you may post your entry in the comments WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION (this is where I find out who reads the submission guidelines):

  • Your NAME
  • Your TWITTER HANDLE or EMAIL ADDRESS*
  • Your WORD COUNT

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore?

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these will have to be limited to US residents only, because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: C’est moi, of course, and Kristin McFarland. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt.

What are you waiting for? Start writing! And feel free to talk it up on Twitter using the #CostumedCurses hashtag! See you Monday!

Love and kisses!

Yours,

Break Out The Battering Ram

Break Out The Battering Ram

What do you need besides books? MORE BOOKS.

Goooood morning, gentle viewers, and welcome to today’s edition of Sunday, My Prints Will Come! In which Emmie discusses blockages — and not the kind you battle with Metamucil.

 

Writer’s block.

 

All writers know that sense of despair that comes from looking at a blank screen and having a blank brain to match. Sometimes you’ll be flying through a story at NaNoWriMo speeds, past 10,000; 20,000; 30,000 words. And then?

 

English: a yellow bricks wall in a restaurant

Ow. English: a yellow bricks wall in a restaurant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you sidle over a little, and then a little bit more. Pretty soon you’re doing a hop-scotch of a sidestep trying to find out where the edge of the wall can be found. Then you go back the other way, but to no avail.

 

You want to go forward. On the other side of the bricks, you know there are things like exciting fight scenes and you weren’t going to use staring to communicate anything at all.

 

You bang your fists against the brick once, but of course your fists come out second best. You hit it again. And again. And again.

 

Pretty soon you’re banging away, and all you’ve got are bloody fists.

 

You try to distract yourself, because hey, cake!

Mixed Berry Earl Grey Cake

Oooh, very pretty and delicious cake! Mixed Berry Earl Grey Cake (Photo credit: Sifu Renka)

But once you’ve eaten all the cake, the wall is still there in front of your face.

Mocking you.

It even shows up at parties and social gatherings. It shows up when you’re talking to your in-laws about how your boss hates you and you’re scratching your head because they think you should have a better job. It shows up when you’re cooking dinner and you get so mad that you manage to burn the broccoli.

And worst, when you sit down to write, it wedges itself between you and your open Scrivener document. Or Squidoo lens. Or WordPress blog post.

“Just write ten words,” you tell yourself. “Then you can go on Twitter and talk about Rocky Horror Picture Show and superpowers!”

So you write two words. “That’s good enough, right?” And off to Twitter you go.

English: Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)

IRL Twitter is horribly disappointed in you. English: Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s only so much Twitter and cake you can take before you start to realise that you haven’t written more than two words at a time in five days. And when you remember that NaNoWriMo is, in actuality, right around the corner instead of simply being a handy metaphor for the flurry of writing you’re NOT doing, you start to bang your head into that wall o’ brick.

Here’s the secret about writer’s block. This secret is the only reason this blog post is happening right now and that you didn’t just get a random picture of my dog today.

The battering ram to get through that damn brick wall is writing.

I know. It’s the most annoying secret in the world, and it’s disingenuous to boot. The worst kind of secret. But it’s true.

Write about anything. Write about writer’s block, like I’m doing now. Write about how annoyed you are that you stepped in dog poo and tracked it into work. Write about brussels sprouts. Write about how much you need coffee. Write about your cat chasing a bug. Write, write, write, just bloody write already.

Every word that hits the page chips away at that wall of bricks.

If you can’t move forward on your WIP, start something different write a short. Write a poem. Write an article. Write a political diatribe. Write about your love of socks and woolly jumpers.

If you just write, and I just write, then the brick wall will come tumbling down. You don’t have to clap your hands and make a fairy fart or pen the next Great Whatevery Whosit with your toes. You just have to write.

So…go write.

And here’s a random picture of my

Buffy as a baby! Aw, look how cute and un-potty trained she was! The only thing worse than stepping in poo is doing it in bare feet inside your home. Aw. Puppies.

dog.

 

 

Something Shiny This Way Comes

Something Shiny This Way Comes

Do you ever get the feeling that there is something magical flitting about just over the horizon?

Yeah, call me doofus, but that’s how I feel right now.

Doofus McDooferson, Shrike Query Report 1.3:

DISCLAIMER! I’m in no way saying this is it. But it’s a good sign.

Shrike (or bits of it, 50 page bits of it) is now sitting in the hands/email inboxes of two agents who asked for it. ERMAHGERD.

 

Me at age 7, before I realised I could write my own.

In addition to my derpiest derping, I’ve been germinating seeds for a new novel. I think I’m going to plunge in and write it, because it’s been at the back of my mind since it inspired probably the only short story I’ve ever written without being under duress. Okay, that’s not entire true. But shorts have never really been my crowning achievement. I mean, even at age 9 I was like, “Short story? NO. I’m writing a NOVEL!”

It’s clear — lack-of-sleep, full of nerves and too much caffeine, jumping-at-every-Gmail-(1) clear — that I am going to need a Distraction of a Serious Nature from this process. So I am going to pour myself into the following:

1. ZAP

What better way to work off the responses of the It Shall Not Be Named variety than fleeing hordes of zombies?

Oh, gods. I just had a revised nightmare idea that my brain will likely capitalise on tonight. Zombies AND agents scribbling on my pages with giant red crayons and cackling “No, NO, NOOOOOOOO! BAHAHAHA, NO!” at the tops of their voices?

I need to go for a run.

2. Le New Project

I’m not going to say a heap about this, because it’s just a tiny little sprout of a thing at the moment, but I will tell you the genre: adult dystopian with paranormal elements.

I’m excited to write it, because it’s one of the two Ideas I’ve gotten in the last year where a character’s voice just blew me over and kicked dust on my twitching body. So that’ll be happening. I’ll add my little handy progress tracker widget once more, and you can see it expand!

3. Another Contest

After the amazing success of #EOW back in July/August (which thankfully gave me time to edit Shrike), I really want to do another one. I’m bouncing ideas around, and I have one nudging at me. More details soon! I also have to rustle up some dough for prizes, because I’d like to do more this time. That said, we’ll see. I’m nothing if not destitute.

If you have any contest ideas or thoughts for prizes that I might be able to afford on a budget of tiny, do spill in the comments!

Whilst writing the above, I got my second (!!!) full manuscript request. Signing off to run around in circles and flail while NOT getting hopes up.

Mmmmhmmmmm. I’m cool as a cucumber and much less green.

 

 

 

Emmie’s Tenthennial Blog Return Extravaganza!

Emmie’s Tenthennial Blog Return Extravaganza!

Good afternoon, gentle viewers, and welcome to July!

I’m here reporting from Panera Bread, and I hope you have less triple digits than I do right now. Isn’t that right, empty coffee cup?

Empty Coffee Cup: That’s right, Emmie. But then again, I always have more triple digits than you. Can’t I get some air conditioning? Or an iced coffee for once? It’s freaking July.

That’s beside the point, ECC. Fond as I am, you’re more built to withstand 100 degree or more temperatures than I. Grumble all you like.

Gentle viewers, it is with great joy and honour that I return to you. Especially since late Friday, we in the greater DC metro area got….

English: Severe storm in Sydney in 1991, pictu...

Wa-POWer Outaged!!!!!! And it looked like this severe storm in Sydney in 1991. Picture taken with a Ricoh Mirai camera, 20 minutes exposure from Potts Point, Sydney, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That’s right! After spending a grueling five hours working in a 125 degree kitchen (that’s a whopping 55 C for the rest of the world), a raging electrical storm knocked out our power and exhaust fans, filled the restaurant with woodsmoke, and set off the fire alarm to end all fire alarms that has left me with its echoes ringing in my ears ever since.

And the first thing I thought of, gentle viewers, was you!

After a sleepless night and a two hour tease of returned power, I got up this morning and ventured to Panera to make sure that I could return to you when I said I would. Because I’ve missed you. And I really needed coffee.

ECC: Get an iced one right now. This ridiculous queue keeps leaving the door open and letting in the hot.

Hush, ECC. I’m writing.

It is with great pleasure that I announce…

English: Fireworks

English: Fireworks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Emmie’s Tenthennial Blog Return Extravaganza!

The first and most exciting bit of news is that I am thrilled to invite you to EmmieMears.com’s first ever flash fiction contest — It’s The End Of The World!

The topic was inspired by a local anthology I heard about past the deadline. I thought it held enormous potential for depth, exploration, and intrigue — and as soon as I heard about it I wanted to see what people would come up with. The theme will be:

The day before the end of the world.

Contest details will be posted on 15 July at 9:00 AM EDT (that’s GMT -4 or BST – 5 if that helps), and I do hope ever so much that you all write entries for me! There will be prizes, prizes to tickle your fancy! I’ll be giving away Amazon gift cards (and probably picking up extra shifts to pay for them, you lucky bastards), manuscript critiques, and virtual swag.

So get your creative engines running and start thinking of how you want to show us snapshots of people’s lives the day before the end of the world.

After carefully analyzing the bar graphs on the poll from my last entry, I have deduced that you all would like to see more (or rather, some) fiction by…well, me. So in the interest of serving you, gentle viewers, I will be gearing up to post some fiction. Some might be excerpts, some might be new stories.

In other news, I have just sent off a short story to PaperGolem Small Press for the Cucurbital Anthology. I’ll know in about two weeks if it was accepted or not. Judging by the fact that I didn’t find all of the italics to switch to underlines (DOH), I am going to bet…not.

In other-other news, Shrike is finished! It will sit on the virtual shelf for a few weeks while I polish up another short story for another submission and work on storyboarding my next project. I have two I’m weighing, and I need to figure out which has the stronger premise.

To sum up, this is what you can expect from me this month:

1. A tubular, snazztastic flash fiction contest.

2. Fiction, fiction, fiction. (And hopefully notice of my first publishing credit, cough.)

3. Buffy posts! Yes, that was the second most popular option — surprised?

A big thank you to all of you for voting in the poll and generally being the awesome readers that you are. I look forward to spending July with you!

So. Enough about me. What have you been up to?

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