cathschaffstump: (Default)

I like to keep the whiny out of this journal. No one likes to read emo, unless it's a laugh aloud cat parody. I need to get this out, and once it's out, maybe it will fly away, and leave me alone, and let me get back to business.

I am so...very...tired. I'm not sure what to do about that at this point in time.

Like so many struggling writers, I have a full time job. That's so I can struggle in one way, but not in all ways on my way to publication. I LOVE my job. To paraphrase Burt Lancaster from Field of Dreams: If I'd become a baseball player (writer) instead of a doctor (teacher), now that would have been a real tragedy. I like my job, but it uses up vast quantities of personal energy. They call it full-time for a reason. In addition to what I do on site, there's always that stack of tests and papers and prep to take home. In addition, there's the administrative side of things to organize and get up and running.

I am nearing the end of my troll book. Yes, really. I have 3 hours dedicated to just it on Tuesday, and 4 hours dedicated to it on Wednesdays. I add more as I can. It's a good thing to be writing.

I have terrific friends. Two of them just got married in a big blow out. Several of us are getting together this weekend, and there's another one at an art festival next weekend, and perhaps a trip to the winery the following weekend.

All this constant work and play is taking its toll. I'm pretty damned tired. I can't even imagine life with children. There's too much. I am too lucky. I have too many good things.

And I'm not sure what to do about it. I am prioritizing already. Maybe I need to start prioritizing rest, for just a little while.

Anyway, it becomes apparent why writers quit work. It is increasingly difficult for me to do it all. It would be nice if I could achieve more balance, rather than everything going at full tilt.

Okay, time, start slowing things down. Because I'm a little worn out.


Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Especially during back to school time, parents plan ahead for what to buy their kids. Children develop and get larger, so it's not uncommon for people to buy clothes that are a little larger than a child needs, because then the kid can grow into it.

I smell a writing analogy.

There's a lot of self-help literature out there to help writers. Like many get rich quick books, or life change books, these books are success-oriented, and often suggest that their suggestions will help you circumnavigate a lot of hard work and succeed. With particular methods, you will separate yourself from the herd, and publication will be yours.


Some people do get lucky, and indeed their story is published, regardless of time up front, or even the quality of the piece.

Some people also win the lottery. Some people are also struck by lightening.

For the majority of us, we have to grow to fit the shape of what will become our writing career.

The truth?

There is no substitute for hard work.
There is no substitute for hard work.
There is no substitute for hard work, ESPECIALLY if you are God's gift to writing.
There is no substitute for hard work, REGARDLESS of who you know.

And here's why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (Default)

Courtesy of Julia Rios, you too can use your phone to do amazing things.

a photo taken of the VP XIII reunion at Readercon.


It's been 3 days since I started this post. I had a faboo weekend with my family of choice, but yeah, my extrovert battery got hit pretty hard, so I'm only just getting back into the swing of extrovert things.

And work today...well, after a week's vacation, I really couldn't expect any better than 31 phone messages and 147 emails. Because that's just the way the English department rolls.

So...anyway, let's get back to the subject at hand, which is rethinking that Con thing.

Readercon was fun. It was a con. I saw some friends and enjoyed seeing others from afar. I attended valuable panels, and I burned out and skipped panels I hoped to see. It was a pretty typical con experience for me--highs, low, and the impossibility of doing it all, but enjoying most of what I did.

Except there was something unusual that has never happened to me at a convention before.

And if you don't want to read on, I'll cut this here. But if you do, especially as regards writer's retreats and VP XIII-ness, you may want to click.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from Writer Tamago.

cathschaffstump: (substance)
I heard of this via [ profile] tltrent. This is a link to Richard Steinberg's latest at Storytellers Unplugged. Please read it when you need to believe in yourself, when you feel the doubt.

I wish you all grace and belief in yourselves, and candles to light when it's a little more difficult.

cathschaffstump: (gossamer)
Well, me and the stationery pdf files will be going to FedEx Kinkos tomorrow for some cash type expenditures. Today I bought labels and big envelopes.

I've done the tutorial on how to print envelopes and labels. Good. I will have to configure and experiment with the labels on my rather funky leftsided (but oh so pretty and professional!) stationary. By Wednesday, I should be able to enter the land of the snail mail query, head held high.

Then there will be this conference in Minneapolis, and then I will return next week to send out my little soldiers. March boldly, little query buddies, when your time comes. I tend to think of the equeries as more pilots than infantry. Maybe you shouldn't ask.

So, here's a sanity check from [ profile] blackaire which was crossposted in [ profile] fangs_fur_fey.

Finally, expanded and rewrote the ending for Sister Night, Sister Moon tonight. It has a nice twist now, that diabolical Xiao Ping! It is stinky pipe laying right now, but I'll comb through it this week and polish it up. After that, I'll search for a market. It's about 12,000 words, give or take. I know there are some novella spots out there.


ps Hot tip of day: Number 9 envelopes fit wonderfully into number 10 envelopes, and I'll be using printed number 9s for responses. No folding because we're trying to look tres pro.
cathschaffstump: (gossamer)
I thought I might squeeze in more writing time last night, but then I had a phone call from a longwinded, pedantic friend who decided to talk to me about, among many things, his own stab at being a writer some years ago. Since he quit after a mere 16 rejections, clearly he was wise to go into something else.

Certainly, however, he had a valid point. How do you keep at it while you're working another job? Because almost all of us do, and it actually gets worse when you get published, doesn't it?

So, I guess it's stubbornness, desire, and motivation. I was talked down to, however, because in my time, all this must be so much easier and less time consuming than it used to be. Back when he walked up hill. To school. In the snow. Both ways. Carrying a typewriter.

Dude, the tools make it easier, yeah. But the time you put in is still pretty intensive. Especially if you write novels, and not short stories. As in one short story. Ever.

And that's all I'm saying about that. While I was talking to him, I sifted through some more agents. With my SUPERIOR WRITING TOOLS! Bwah ha ha!


Part 2 of the conversation. Do you get published under any circumstances, just to say you have been? If that's the case, thanks to the Iowa Arts Council I am so in! But these days, I want to guard my career carefully and choose wisely. I'm not talking about buying my way into publication. That is verboten. My friend was impressed that he had been published once and had received complimentary copies as a payment. It was another reason to be pompous.

However, another author, upon giving me advice, suggested that if you get paid less than $500 for a short story, you're doing yourself a disservice. Yet another friend said that if you can get published in a prestigious venue, regardless of payment, you should. I believe too that there are good causes: the aforementioned Iowa Arts Council gig which netted Schaff-Stump a $50 honorarium, but made money for flood relief. Or getting in on the ground floor of something. Or good exposure. All sorts of things. What do you think?

Meanwhile, no new rejections, BUT a seriously interesting and cool offer that I'm THINKING about carefully.

While I'm at it, thanks to [ profile] ilona_andrews for helping Schaff-Stump think about the hook in her query. Conflict? I am so a sub-plot girl! Did conflict for the individual book, rather than the whole series, even occur to me?

So, before the next query goes out (and I think I've got time, because I think I'm through all the trigger finger email back agents ;P ) I'll recraft that puppy.

Crumbs. Time to weigh in.

cathschaffstump: (substance)
I wrote to Nathan Bransford just to get it out of the way. I had my rejection in hand in five minutes. As I mentioned, I expected one from him, and one from Ellenberg, if I get a reply from Ellenberg in two weeks at all. BTW, [ profile] manzabar, I forgot to mention that Ellenberg is John Scalzi's agent. I know how you feel about him!

I don't necessarily expect a rejection from my next query, Kathleen Bransford, who is both a fantasy and a young adult agent. I feel my chances are more on an even keel there. Those who have corresponded with her have good things to say.


You know, what is interesting about using a tool like Query Tracker is that you really can research agents thoroughly, and since I'm not approaching this from a desperation angle (I'm determined to find an agent with a good fit) I've easily ruled out agents that have been rude to others often, weird, philosophically unaligned (can you see Substance being represented by a fundamentalist Christian?), or who aren't shopping for my genre.

I would like an agent, but not at any cost. It's like considering a hire from this angle as well. If I get a bad vibe, or a place doesn't feel suitable, I'm not hooking up.


The slush pile is hardly a reality yet. I've searched and found 216 agents. Thirty of them do not accept unreferred writers. That gives me 186, of which I've discarded 5 and queried 9. Two are still out there. Seven are nos. That gives me a whole 172 agents left to query. That could keep me busy for a bit.

So, the plan is first AAR/email agents. Then AAR/snail mail. Why? Ease, pretty much. I'd also like an ecologically friendly work place if I can get it. Then nonAAR/email. Then nonAAR/snail mail. Pretty straightforward.

Will I do the slush pile if all this comes to naught? Realistically, all could come to naught. I probably will. I could sit on the manuscript, or I could try for the longshot. I'll have the rest of my life to sit on the manuscript, and if I have a book deal in hand, it might leverage an agent.

All right. Enough of this for today. Back to the students, the emails, and the planning.


(to quote Donkey from Shrek: Pick me! Pick me!)
cathschaffstump: (isis)
Someone asked Charles Vess and Holly Black what they do for fun.

It's a good question for writers. What do you do for fun? Answer can not be writing or reading...


Faerie Con

Oct. 11th, 2007 07:28 am
cathschaffstump: (gossamer)
Flying to Faerie Con in Philadelphia for a variety of reasons, the most writerly of which are to attend panels and meet people.

I will be working on the story in my spare moments, such as today, if I can avoid too much airline drama.

Wonder if I will meet any of you there?

See you on the other side.

cathschaffstump: (isis)
No one really likes or is interested in the flu, except for the pharmacists that make delicious anti-nausea medication.

That said, in a fit of productivity last night, read up to 186 in the oral read through.

Sent off my 30 sample pages this morning as well.

Pretty exciting, but you know, this is the glamorous life of a writer. It really is!



Oct. 2nd, 2007 11:24 am
cathschaffstump: (Default)
Today's gem of writer wisdom:

Go through life pretending you aren't waiting for an agent or editor to call you back. No, really! You can do it!


cathschaffstump: (Default)
With thanks to Nalini Singh...for those moments when the glare of your own skepticism burns you like a rogue heat lamp.
cathschaffstump: (substance)
Relevant Writer realization: Who has time to work on anything else but checking papers (English teacher) and writing (author)? Perhaps my best writerly advice to someone right now is this: If you want to go into education, and be a writer, choose a discipline that has multiple choice tests. You think you're doing yourself a favor by choosing a discipline near and dear to your hear. Choose again, and this time, choose more wisely. :D

Flippancy aside, while I wait for the coin of fate to flip, I've begun an outloud reading of the work. I tell my students constantly to read their papers out loud, and you know what? It is the best advice I can give them. Not only do you note things that are proofreading mistakes, but you also hear how your work will actually sound to others. Rhythm is important!

No, what do you REALLY think? )

Meanwhile, I'm going to continue writing along my plan. Even though I'm not paid yet, I'm a writer, and I'll do what writers do: take some time to do some more polishing, and then get on to the next things.

Well, tonight is the night class, so I'd best do a couple of corrections I remembered while drifting off to sleep, and get down to some work at my other job.

cathschaffstump: (isis)
How do you revise, oh fellow writers? I find when I work on a long term project, I draft and then go back to the beginning and add things in, and then draft some more, and then return to the beginning and add things in, and so on, until eventually I reach the end of the novel. It's sort of like combing the beach and looking for shells, and then revisiting what you've combed to see if other shells are left.

That said, I hit my 81,000 word mark, and now I've returned to the beginning. I've sharpened up the first 3 chapters. Chapter 4 will need some major tunage, because there are several brand new bits in 4. We'll progress right back up to where I stopped in chapter 7, and then begin again. I can say, with confidence now, that the first 3 chapters of Substance cohere well, and are in the shape I want them to be in.

Word count?

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
82,130 / 100,000

And now, something narcissistic. Do you read your stuff again, and find it evokes you emotionally? One of the reasons I'm so hooked on writing is that I live my scenes. As I was working through the prologue, chapter one, and chapter two, I found a lot to like: fresh language, good story telling, and interesting characters. What I didn't expect was to be so moved during chapter one, which is a hard chapter to take, emotionally. My heart goes out to Stephan especially as I write about what's happening to him. I truly hope my readers have the same reaction, and they can forgive me for what I do to the poor boy in the book. I hope he can forgive me too.

I wonder how you feel about your characters. I hear some authors see their characters more like chess pieces. I think I'm too much of a method actress to be able to.

Honestly, if I get to work, and have a spare moment, I will post some snippets. Those of you who want snippets will have to resort to writing my boss and asking the college to back off. Whoops! Other life leakage! Nipping that in the bud...

See you tomorrow night.

cathschaffstump: (gossamer) to not have to sell yourself via publicity, but have someone stumble across your work, which is so good it speaks for itself, and then opportunity falls into your lap. That's my fantasy anyway.

It just came true tonight.


Here I am at Wiscon. Lalala, I've been enjoying myself, going to panels, volunteering at the Broad Universe table, pimping the anthology. Good karaoke party tonight, although I had to leave early because I had to go read, and so I didn't get to sing. It's okay. Everyone here wants to sing.

I've met Ilona Andrews and her friend Sonya Sipes. I've read with some cool people. Here's the best part of the story.

So, I brought along The Initiation Rites and Incantations of the Vampire Killers' Junior Auxiliary to read, as it's in the anthology. I was torn between it and reading part of the faerie story, but it turned out that there was a zombie story and a monster killer story, and it fit.

They laughed. They cried. Well, mostly they laughed when I read. Many people will want to buy the anthology (okay, a few, but that's good!)

I also mentioned that I was working on the Monte Cristo retelling, a story about demon binders, and a faerie soap opera set in Iowa as a quip in my introduction. After a reading, a guy came up to ask me if the Abby/Vince story was part of a longer work. I had to confess it wasn't. Then he asked me about the demon binder story.

Turns out that guy was this guy:

and he's going to talk to this guy

about me maybe publishing something for these people.

I think I've also seen this guy around the con, and I'll hear more about having me submit a query/treatment of the first Klarion novel via appropriate business channels. There it is. Me doing what I do, and having someone walk by and say, "Man, that's good, without all the schmooze and bullshit.

To get this off my chest, let's just say


And now back to my pragmatic self. This is all about the first step. This could come to nothing. I smell rejection in the wind. Etc, etc. But it's a cool first step, and it's on my terms.

I'll update you when I find out more. I'll let you know how and if this changes the course of my summer. I'm too tired to be happy right now. It's almost one in the morning. But there is a deep sense of satisfaction.


ETA: And another offer of work today. A Gothic Romance Novella for a (very small) press. sonyamsipe's company Cat Scratch.  I'll see what I can come up with.

Do you remember what I said about the universe opening doors a few days ago? Um...yeah. Shouldn't stay up until one and get up at six.

cathschaffstump: (substance)
Hello everyone. I'm going to do a little historical reposting and updating from my more personal journal.This one is supposed to make me look professional, and I'll be taking some pains to preserve that. Um...yeah.

 At any rate, it will be all about writing, so bear that in mind if you've come over from my other journal because you like to hear about my cats, or say other interests I have. You'd best go back over there.:)

For now, what you need to know is that after an amazing experience at Wiscon 2007, meeting great people and editors from small presses that were interested in my work based on a reading, I decided I really could build a writing career, much like I managed to get the teaching job of my dreams. Sure, that might also take me (what was it?) 12 years, but I'm game.

Okay, onto the retro entries!



cathschaffstump: (Default)

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