Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Call for 2010

HALLELUJAH!!  And good riddance.

I don't entirely mean that.  There are enough positive memories from the past 365 days.  But you can't underestimate the power of new beginnings, one I'm very much looking forward to. 

Wednesday night I posted my feelings about 2010 and hopes for 2011.  No need to reiterate.  Instead, I'm simply going to mention a few things (briefly) and share my two favorite end of the year artifacts.

I have ignored my manuscript since December 22, the longest I've been away from it since starting on August 13, 2009.  Tomorrow morning (or early afternoon), I begin thirty days of writing boot camp to ensure my current WIP draft is finished by the end of the month.  I'm not rushing, but considering my character has revealed the rest of the story to me, I'm going to try my darnedest to get it on paper and make adjustments later.

I've composed a schedule.  Instead of fitting writing around my other activities, I'm fitting the activities around my writing.  Times vary depending on whether or not I'm working, but each day has a slot reserved for writing, working out, blogging, social networking, eating, and sleeping.  Hold me to it.

As a former History teacher, I can't deny my appreciation for traveling through the past.  In celebration of the holiday, I'm sharing two of my favorite pieces from this time of year.  First is a poem written by Scott Emmons, who journeys through the year by setting key events to rhyme. 

It was chaos again in the year Twenty Ten,
What with earthquakes, foreclosures and hacking.
There were flash crash corrections and midterm elections
Where Democrats took a shellacking!
There was 3-D TV and the Party of Tea,
There were iPads to play Angry Birds.
South African fellas blew mean vuvuzelas
And Palin was making up words.
It was hard to stay chipper when Al split with Tipper.
Volcanoes and floods had us freaking.
There were bailouts in Greece, Kevin Smith was obese,
And every last Wiki was leaking!
The health care debate rendered many irate
As partisan rifts seemed to widen.
There were ardent appeals and a few shady deals
Plus a beautiful F-bomb from Biden!
BP’s shoddy well was soon gushing like hell.
It was “Spill, baby, spill” as they say.
When the fish started choking and pelicans croaking,
It wrecked Tony Hayward’s whole day!
Obama, that pistol, went off on McChrystal.
We brawled over mosques at Ground Zero.
In a time of dissention and heightening tension,
That dude from Jet Blue was our hero!
In Hollywood news, Gibson still hated Jews
And the members of every last race,
While Lindsay-type fun made Rip Torn and his gun
Seem the height of decorum and grace!
Harry Potter struck gold with a story half-told.
“Inception” scored ten out of ten.
The Coens had a hit with their take on “True Grit”
And the Titans were clashing again!
When it came to TV, we were gaga for “Glee”
And Snooki was not to be bossed.
There was bitchin’ and moanin’ from Leno and Conan,
And one crappy ending for “Lost!”
On the subject of ending, it’s truly heart-rending
To think of the people who’ve passed.
Gary Coleman is gone; Dennis Hopper moved on;
Rue McClanahan, gold to the last!
The boomers all pout now that Salinger’s out
And we already miss Corey Haim.
Mitch Miller lived long, but he’s crooned his last song.
Peter Graves has lived up to his name.
In sadness we mourn Robert Culp, Lena Horne,
Leslie Nielsen, that icon of humor.
Lynn Redgrave is through, Mr. Steinbrenner too,
And Bill Cosby – No, that was a rumor!
Yes, it’s been a tough year full of tension and fear
In a world going out of its tree.
From the blows we’ve been dealt, we’ve quite honestly felt
Like that baby from Toy Story 3!
While some are complaining our freedoms are waning
And some say the rent’s too damn high,
The Koreas are fighting, the bedbugs are biting.
If I were John Boehner, I’d cry!
And yet we can cope, for there’s reason to hope.
Those miners in Chile are well.
New START is on track, Pee-wee Herman is back,
And our soldiers can now ask and tell.
Let’s stay optimistic and not go ballistic
At each little crisis and glitch,
As we hope that ‘11 is absolute heaven,
‘Cause Two Thousand Ten was a bitch!

What will you always remember from 2010?

And finally, as a huge fan of music, I always enjoy hearing how DJ Earworm mashes the top twenty-five tunes of the year.

Have a favorite song of the year?

Alright, I'm off to watch Kentucky vs. Louisville, the most anticipated game of the season for this former Bluegrass resident.  GO CATS!!!

Oh yes, and HAPPY NEW YEAR to my readers and friends.  Be safe.
Don't drink and drive.  Don't take shots on an empty stomach.  I'll see you in 2011.

All the best,

Coming soon: What's on my bookshelf for 2011?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Confessions From A Discombobulated Mind

First, an extremely important update: I won fantasy football!!!  That's right; I never played before, and I took the title (and the cash).  It was close; I was sweating until the end.  In an ideal situation, one of my two players would have made an awesome play in the first quarter so I could relax.  But that didn't happen.  I took the lead in the fourth quarter with three minutes on the clock.  And I have to say, I had a lot of fun playing.  It was a nice way to end the year.

What's that?  Nobody else cares?  Alright fine; moving on.

animated_brain.gifMy mind acted up at the gym this morning.  I guess this is a good thing - it proves I still have one.  (Believe me, I'm as shocked as you are.)  Had I foreseen the production of inspiring thoughts, I would have brought a notebook.  But I guess it would be hard to run and write simultaneously, no?

There was no rhyme or reason to my thoughts.  I actually struggled keeping up.  JM Tohline calls this a "thought-spill."  I call it a bunch of random junk cluttering my head that I need to blog about in hopes of making some sort of sense out of everything before getting a severe migraine.

I'm much wordier than he is.

Before going further, I should preface that this post is mostly for my benefit.  You're invited to read along, but know I don't expect anyone to care.  Perfectly understandable.

My entire life, this has been a reflective time of year.  I'm sure it's the same for most; the curtain closes on the final act of one year, the cast bows, and we all venture forward with anticipation of opportunity and starting anew. 

Before leaving for the gym, I had opened a piece I wrote a year ago.  I called it "Reflecting on a Decade."  At the time, my blog had not been invented, so it was simply one of those Facebook notes I'm sure only a handful read and most didn't understand.

It was the first I revisited the piece, and basically, I had two thoughts: Why the hell does my writing SUCK and why the hell do I sound so bloody depressed?

After some pondering, my brain answered those questions: Well, Paul, that's because the writing DOES suck and you WERE depressed.

Thanks for the clarification.

The hardest part was reliving the events that brought me to that place in life.  I like to think things are better - that the cloud over my head has at least morphed into a lighter shade of gray.  I suppose it depends on the day.

Fast forward to the gym.  I'm running on my machine, iPod buds in ears, maintaining a steady pace to the tune of something I'm too embarrassed to admit in writing.  To my right, a woman screamed into her phone.  To my left, an unpleasant stench emanated from a middle-aged gentleman.  Hoping to distract myself from the ruckus in my digestive system, I glanced at the television monitor and saw the soaps were already airing their New Years Eve episodes.  I expect they'll conclude just before Easter.

Then, all of a sudden, my conscious started screaming that enough is enough.  It's been nearly three years.  It's over - I'm not starting 2011 in the same place I started 2010.  Or 2009, for that matter.  It isn't happening. 

No more moping about not having a job. No more analyzing my career path or debating how things could be different.  No more agonizing over money and benefits.  No more feeling pathetic because I enjoy spending time alone.  No more feeling the need to explain wanting to be alone.  No more feeling my friendships have vanished; I don't need a ton of friends and I don't need to be busy every second of the day.  Downtime is acceptable.  I've maintained enough strong relationships over the years, and that is more valuable than a zillion mediocre ones.

And, NO MORE moments of feeling I need to justify my writing.  Starting now. 

What do you do? I write!  What do you want to do? I want to write; I want to publish a novel!  Well don't you think you should.... Actually, no, I don't.  But I do think you should stop talking.  Darn haters!

Let me try something new: reflecting on the positives.  This year, I've written approximately 90,000 words and cut approximately 40,000.  I joined Twitter and met other talented writers.  I social networked. Oh, and did I mention I won fantasy football?

I landed a part-time job that introduced me to amazing people.  Friends, actually.  Together, we support each other in this "It's not a good time to be a teacher" era.

In May, I started a blog.  It was a slow start because I didn't quite get it.  Now, as sad as this may sound to some, it's one of the most positive things in my life.  I truly enjoy blogging; I'm happy for a place I can express myself without judgment.  I'm happy communicating and learning from others.

I'm happy writing.

I've met some freakin' amazing people in the process.  Each play a key role in my journey.

I've composed a list of some of the blogs I highly recommend, as well as people I suggest getting to know.  When asked who they'd like to meet one day, most will list an exorbitant number of movie stars and musicians.  I'd list these folks.

Paul's League of Extraordinary (Literary) Gentlemen
Paul's Legendary Ladies of Blogosphere
So what's on the agenda for 2011?

I'm finishing my manuscript and editing the heck out of it.  I'm pretty close; I've taken a little break for the holidays and am ready to dive back in Saturday morning.  I feel refreshed and ready to spill.  I'll do everything in my power to make it the best I can, and then I'll query.  Beyond that, things are out of my control. 

Guess what?  That's okay.  I've still learned a ton and changed in the process.  I set out to do something I thought I'd only ever dream about.  For now, that is good enough for me.

Most importantly, I'm going to tackle my anxiety.  I'm tired of being afraid; tired of living with panic. Uneasiness blows. 

This will be hard and I don't know how I plan to do it.  But I'm determined to give it an honest effort.  I've been on this boat long enough.  It's time to get back on land.

Hmm, what else? My paternal grandfather will turn 100 in July.  My brother gets married in August and I'll be in my first wedding.  And who knows, maybe the two of us will start getting along in the process.

A new blog design is forthcoming and I started keeping a list of topics to consider for future postings.  I'm also drafting up a contest to host when the new site is launched.

Oh, and I'll be working on my first assignment as a beta-reader.  I'm pretty pumped for that!

If you're still with me, what's on your agenda for 2011?  And sorry for the long post.  It was good for the soul.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are Celebrity "Novels" Compromising The Publishing Industry?

It wasn't long ago I discovered The Thirteen Most Obnoxious Publishing Stories of 2010. My thoughts?  The author was kind to use the word obnoxious.  The adjectives entering my mind were somewhat less tame.

Over the past few months, I've been fortunate to connect with a variety of writers.  These are people I respect; they have a passion for what they do and are committed to the craft.  Despite having never met them, they are incredible friends and mentors who teach me the tricks of the trade.  I'm humbled to be supported and accepted by such talented individuals.

From them, I've learned writing is more than a hobby - it's a lifestyle.  We live and breathe our words.  We create characters and worlds that come to life, blurring the boundaries of reality.  We own our work.

Serious writing requires serious commitment.  Anyone who ever attempted completing a publishable product knows this.  If you're like Alex George, you wake up at 5am to begin a few hours of uninterrupted writing before your children demand your attention.  Many follow routines like LK Gardner-Griffie, who first puts in the required day job hours before heading home and activating her imagination.  Or if you're like me, you work out in the morning, write in the afternoon, and spend the evenings studying the business.

The point is, we all spend a significant amount of time writing.  And deleting, rewriting, editing, revising, staring, reading, studying, screaming, crying, shouting, cursing, fighting, and more.

But for most of us, our daily schedule does not allow for this:

Now there is an award winning novelist.  She must have just finished editing.

Before I go further, I want to clarify one thing.  Although I do not agree with (and as an Italian, am often offended by) the majority of the behaviors captured on this "show," I do not begrudge the cast for capitalizing an opportunities presented to them.  Who wouldn't? 

I'm more troubled that our society will most likely make the "novel" written by the star of the clip above a best seller.

And this bar hopping author is simply one example.  Lauren, Nicole, and Hilary have all landed YA deals, but what I want to know is, how hard are they really working?  For some reason, I'm unable to envision these gals sitting down to research agents, draft the perfect query letter, and pick themselves back up after being rejected.  Not until after last call, anyway.

In fact, I'm skeptical more than a few words were written by the authors themselves.  I suppose I can believe they came up with the idea and perhaps created some of the key plot events.  But if you're asking me if I think they even read a book recently, let alone write one, my answer would be no.

As an aspiring novelist, I hold the industry in the highest regard.  It is the Nirvana of the literary world.  The highest honor; the strongest compliment.  Publication symbolizes excellence.

And honestly, these posers clutter the shelves.  It's a slap in the face to the writing community, and I'm disappointed to see quality and standards being overlooked for a name on the cover.

So, fellow writers, what are your thoughts?  Do we sacrifice quality for celebrities or am I completely wrong?  Have these icons something to offer through the written word?  Are they worthy of publication?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm in the mood for controversy....

Literary controversy, that is.

In the name of Christmas, I am taking a brief hiatus from my manuscript.  I know that is commonly frowned upon, but there are more distractions then I can handle right now.  When I try focusing on my novel, my computer and I end up competing in a staring contest.  Any guess who wins???

PLUS, I, the fantasy football virgin, am going to my league's Super Bowl.  Yes, you read that correctly.  My team, the Jaded Joes (9-4), will battle Make My Baby Proud (7-6, though they are much better then their record suggests).  With the possibility of winning some much needed cash, writing sessions end with little productivity.

BTW, don't be confused.  I still don't know a darn thing about football. But I do know how to read, and as I said from the beginning, that is the only skill you need...

Some may recall I enacted a personal reading sabatical effective Labor Day until my manuscript was finished.  Again, I know this is frowned upon, but I was desperately looking to limit distractions, and personal reading occupied a lot of time.  Besides, I read more than enough books this summer to hold me over.

But, with the holidays here, I anticipate more personal time than normal, and I'd like to read a book.  Last week, we had our office party, and to the surprise of no one, my Secret Santa gave me a gift card to B&N.  The question is, what book do I buy?

If you've been to my page even once, you know I'm a fan of YA literature.  I read it, I write it, and I have a special place in my heart for teen characters.  Yet, although it is my preference, I'm open minded.

I'm in the mood for a controversial story.  I want something that will make me think and reflect; something that could potentially make me angry (in a good way) and force me to analyze the story internally.  I like laughing; I like yelling at the pages more.  I want to react to the book; I want to think about it long after reading the last word.

Of course, all standard features must apply.  It must hook me from the beginning, it must force me to turn the page regardless of the time of night, and it has to be relatable.  The last novel I read was Nineteen Minutes, which I blogged about here.  Naturally, I enjoy books that focus around educational issues, but for now, I'd like to hold off on the special needs topics.

I have a lengthy list of novels to read, but am never opposed to suggestions from my literary friends.  In fact, it's usually how I choose a book.  My online readers have such diverse taste, there is no doubt in my mind I'll be presented with several outstanding choices. 

Got a title for me?  Please share it below.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Humor

Because sometimes, we just need to laugh.

Hopefully you can find a few to appreciate.  And hopefully, my sense of humor doesn't offend anyone.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Young Adult Literature: Why I Choose To Write It

Today's post was inspired by Regan Leigh, who manages a highly impressive blog worth checking out.  Writers have plenty of genres to choose from.  And these days, it seems nothing is off limits (Remember when J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye was actually considered shocking?)  Anyone compelled to to write has every option imaginable.

In the beginning, the blank page is exciting - at least for me.  It's the only time in the process when anything is possible.  But that moment is short-lived.  Eventually, a writer must choose a direction, at least if they hope to complete a tangible product.

Although there are exceptions, most successful authors are known for a certain genre - Stephen King for horror, Nicholas Sparks for romance, and Laurie Halse Anderson for Young Adult.  I once had a student ask why I only taught history.  I explained that, at the secondary level, teachers focus on one subject area so they can, essentially, become an expert  - that it's practically impossible for one individual to possess the knowledge required to become an "expert" in every discipline.

In a lot of ways, this scenario reminds me of writing.  Can you be an expert in every genre?  My gut tells me probably not.  At least I can't, anyway.

My seventh graders once responded to the following prompt: "Is it better to be a jack of all trades or a master of one?"  Obviously there is no right or wrong answer, but I think we can all agree it's not easy to be the first.  Personally, when it comes to writing, I would rather study and perfect one genre.  This way, regardless of what happens in terms of publication, I'll continue growing and be able to identify progress.

So, what was it that made me commit to Young Adult?

Easy; it's me.  I never considered another genre.  YA is what I read most.  It's also the genre I most enjoy.  Interestingly enough, I wasn't an avid reader as a kid.  In fact, I hated it.  I faked my way through book reports and passed English at the mercy of

But when I started teaching, I wanted to read more.  I wanted to be familiar with popular titles and know what novels to suggest  - especially for reluctant readers.  In doing so, I discovered a passion I never knew I had.  Reading became relaxing, cathartic, and enjoyable.  Weekends were spent in bookstores with a latte in one hand, and a book in the other.  It was the perfect escape - an opportunity to forget everything bad in my life.  For the duration of the novel, I entered another world.  Sometimes, I even became a different person.

Everyone knows you have to write your passion.  I am, and always will be, an educator at heart.  I want to reach kids - serve as a positive role model, instill values, and teach life lessons.  I want to inspire - ignite thought-provoking discussions among teens and make them analyze the decisions they make.  I want to give them hope - hope for a better future; hope for a better tomorrow.

But most importantly, I want them to enjoy books.  And, if it isn't too much to ask, I'd like them to learn from the books they enjoy.

I like to think my background and experience gives me some validity - that by writing what I know, I might be one very very small step above the average person.  We'll see.

Just before putting my feet in the water, I had taken a course in YA Literature.  I was exposed to many new authors and contemporary pieces, and I fell in love a zillion new characters.  As an adult, I realized I enjoy YA because I get to live through experiences I miss as a kid.  Simultaneously, I can partake in experiences I personally never had.

My passion for YA continues growing with time.  Aside from the fact he has never been born and doesn't currently have a pulse (minor details), my character is a real person.  Currently, I may be the only person he communicates with, but believe me, I hear him loud and clear.  At times we fight - I keep telling him I'm the boss, but he knows he is.  He shares his experiences - spills his heart and soul into my ears, and I write his story to the best of my ability.

The fact that Michael and I have this kind of relationship tells me I'm on the right path.  So, I guess you could say I write YA for a number of reasons: it's my passion, it's my expertise, and hopefully, it's my calling.  To quote LK Gardner-Griffie, one of my favorite people ever, "I write YA because I have to."

How about you?  What made you choose your genre?  Why do you feel this is where you belong?  I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top Ten on the Tenth: Christmas Songs

With the holiday season among us, it seemed appropriate correlating this month's top ten list to one of my favorite seasons.  True, it has been challenging uncovering the Christmas spirit lately, but the holidayhas always been an exciting time for my family, so I'm doing my best.  Promise.

I grew up with a mother who was a tad obsessed with Christmas.  Okay, she's nuts.  Shortly after Halloween, the house begins making the transformation into a Winter Wonderland.  Every picture, centerpiece, and table cloth was replaced with a festive decoration.  Each room had a tree; each tree had a theme.  She does a great job.  I'll post pictures at some point.

Needless to say, I have many memorable holidays.  And even with all the struggles and challenges many of us are facing, I try to stop and remember the magic this season holds.  My memories help; the music helps more.

This month, I've composed a list of my favorite Christmas songs.  Aside from being outstanding arrangements, each of these songs is associated with a specific memory.  The older I become, the more I appreciate these memory joggers - songs that remind me of my most cherished holiday memories.  Times I can recall with a smile; times before I entered adulthood.  Secretly, I wish I could return to these moments.  Not permanently, of course.  Just long enough to remember the magic.

Top Ten Favorite Christmas Songs

1.  Christmas Eve Sarajevo by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
2.  Do They Know It's Christmas Band Aid
3.  Mary Did You Know by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd
4.  Where Are You Christmas by Faith Hill
5.  The Magic of Christmas Day by Celine Dion
6.  An Evening in December by First Call
7.  Miss You Most (At Christmas Time) by Mariah Carey
8.  All I Want For Christmas Is You by Vince Vance
9.  Last Christmas by Wham (though I'm digging the Glee version, too.  Yes, I'm a nerd.  It's okay.)
10.  Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You by Billy Squier

WRITERS: Earlier today, JM Tohline posted a FANTASTIC post entitled The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents.  This is definitely one to bookmark!!

And, while you're visiting his blog, you can vote for my tweet on the sidebar and help me win his latest blog contest!  It's the one tagged @ImPaulJoseph

Have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What Am I Doing Wrong?

With 20 chapters under my belt, you'd think I've learned a thing or two about writing a first draft.  But I'm just as clueless as the first time I sat down.  I mean, it's a first draft - how perfect does it have to be?

Well, for my standards, pretty damn perfect.  I'm cursed with being a perfectionist.  (Believe me, if you've lived with this the way I have, you know it's a curse - not a gift.)  Why am I doing this to myself?  There will be plenty of time to revise, rewrite, add, delete, and edit later.  Right?

Some days I can't feel my story.  Like today, for example.  When you choose to write about the topics and themes I've chosen, there are days you need a break from the fictional world you've created.  It's freaking depressing.  And for some reason, this week has been tough.  Perhaps it's because I'm surrounded by all this happy holiday nonsense.  It's hard tapping into your darkest blood cells with Christmas music blasting from the speakers above you.  Sorry, I don't hear what you hear.  And I don't really want to either.

(Point of clarification: No, I'm not the Grinch.  I actually enjoy this season.  It's just that, unfortunately, finding that holiday spirit has been challenging the past few years.  I'll come around... eventually...)

Despite not being "in the zone," I forced myself to write today.  When I opened my document, my fingers went paralyzed.  All I did was erase and retype a the same two paragraphs repeatedly, changing a word here and there.  Productive?  I think not.

Three hours later, I've accomplished nothing - except a couple of tweets, and I guess this blog post.  The frustrating part is, I have ideas.  I know what needs to happen in this chapter.  I know why it needs to happen.  But when I write it out, I don't like the way it sounds.  And this prevents me from moving forward.

So, I'm seeking advice from the writing community.  What are the most important elements of a FIRST draft?  What do you focus on during that initial run-through?  What can I let go for now and fix later?  What can fix itself once you have the entire story drafted on paper? 

These are the things I'm trying to learn.  I know writing requires patience, and I know it's not wise to force the creative process.  I also know most authors describe their first draft as crap.

The bottom line is, I want my first draft on paper. Now that the entire manuscript is in my head, I want to sit down and sculpt it.  I want to get rid of the clutter, add what is missing, and perfect my wording and sentence structure.  And I need to read it from cover to cover.  Working on something for so long makes it difficult to remember what I've already written.  Did I use that analogy already?  Did I already insert that reference?  How many times have I used this word?  Ugh, I'm getting a headache.

I'm hoping a lot of this is simply the result of inexperience.  I've never done this before, so I'm learning the process as I go.  Any advice or expertise you can offer will be greatly appreciated.

Happy Wednesday,

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Simple Twitter Contest from JM Tohline

Happy Friday!

First of all, I'd like to welcome my new readers.  It's always exciting to log in and notice more followers. (Am I wrong, or is there no e-mail notification option for receiving new followers?  It sure would let me notice them faster!!!)

Anyway, a special welcome to T.K., Michele, Dezmond, Roberta, Jeffrey, and D.L.  Thanks so much for visiting.

For those of you who have not yet discovered the blog of JM Tohline, you are seriously missing out.  JM is an incredible talent whose novel, The Great Lenore, will hit bookstores this summer.  For any writer, aspiring or otherwise, this is a great place to visit and learn more about the craft and publishing industry.  JM knows his stuff!

AND, if you visit his blog, you can learn how to enter a very simple contest to win a free advanced copy.  If you have a twitter account, you can be entered in less than 20 seconds.  If you don't have a twitter account, you should set one up, follow me, follow JM, and then you can enter his contest in less than 20 seconds.

And of course, if you win and do not want the free book, you can always send it to me!

Contest details can be found here.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You mean you haven't finished your book yet???

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Happy December!  And I can't believe I'm saying this, but it looks like the first completed draft of my YA manuscript will be finished this month.

Yes, really.

However, this is just the beginning.  Don't get me wrong, I plan to take a night off and celebrate the accomplishment, but it will be back to work the next day.  There is still lots of work (and many drafts) to be done.

It recently dawned on me that a lot of people do not grasp the undertaking of writing a novel, especially one you hope to see professionally published.  Yes, many have supported me since I started this journey.  I have some pretty awesome cheerleaders, and even more awesome beta readers.

At the same time, a lot of people can't understand why I'm not finished yet.  To them, I've worked on it long enough - what the heck is taking me so long?

It's not that easy.

I've tried explaining what it means to write a novel - that you have to revise, edit, take breaks, go back, reread, etc. etc. etc.  That it takes dedication, time, and committment.  That writing is done in solitude - it's an activity that doesn't permit a lot of socialization or interaction, and the creative process has a cycle.  Some days, the juice refuses to flow.

Unfortunately, without ever attempting the task yourself, the best frame of reference you might have is a long research paper.  Most people write for school, and most who write for school do so the last minute.  Writing a book is different.  There is no "pulling an all-nighter" or "asking my teacher/professor for an extension."  There is no extra credit and no grading curve.  Can you tell I was a teacher?

Then, when the book is finished, or at least once the writer is confident about the piece, you learn how competitive the field is.  Cue querying, rejection, and disapointment, because it happens to everyone.

Yesterday, I happened to stumble upon this video from David Kazzie.  It is FANTASTIC (and he made it himself).  Aside from being extremely comical, it really highlights what it means to write a novel, as well as how publication works. 

If you are a writer or aspiring novelist, you have to check it out.  If you are curious about what I've been doing the past year, and what lies ahead in my journey, this is the best explaination you are going to get.  It should answer all your questions (much better than I can...)  Enjoy!

P.S. It's very late.  I apologize for any issues in the above post.