Saturday, September 29, 2012

SUBJECTIVE: The longest four-letter word.

As a writer it's damn near impossible to survive the trenches of an agent/publisher search without becoming  painfully familiar with the word SUBJECTIVE. According to it means, pertaining to or characteristic of an individual; according to a writer, however, it means, your so-called manuscript sucks ass chunks and makes pelvic itching sound appealing. 

Subjectivity BLOWS. It shatters dreams, wounds pride, and stifles progress. It is at the root of every rejection email you've ever received. You know the one. From DREAM AGENT who compliments you on the uniqueness of your voice, the complexity of your characters, only to finish with, "In the end, I just didn't connect with story the way I should have in order to offer representation. Of course, this is a subjective opinion, and another agent may feel differently..."...and that's the moment when your head hits the keyboard, your knuckles run white, and your muse adopts 1/5 a day habit. It's a killer folks. It's without a doubt the longest four letter word in our language. And, *shields eyes from monitor while fingers keep typing* it is totally legit.

Aaaahh!! Please, don't un-follow me! Let me explain.

You see, earlier this month I was invited to be a judge in an early round of Deana Barnhart's ambitious/amazing agent search contest known as GUTGAA. Over 160 brave, talented authors submitted their opening passages and pitches, over four different blogs, to be scrutinized by myself and 19 other authors. I had no idea what I was in store for when I agreed--let me just say, WOW.

Of the forty entries I had the opportunity to consider over at Robin Weeks' place, there truly wasn't a bad one in the bunch. Each submission was polished, well-executed, and most of all, well-written. Awesome, right?! WRONG! With so many amazing entries, how in the world was I going to choose only ten?! And then it dawned on me. I had to honor that thing inside of me that gravitated toward a certain voice, a specific style of writing, or a plot line that smacked me in the face and called me Susan. I had to be...subjective.

I hate that subjectivity is part of the writer's world, but after this experience I now know that it really does have a place. It's what allows for a-typical books to find the shelf inside a Barnes & Noble, and unique perspectives to find a home in the sea of vanilla voices those without subjectivity are too afraid to say no to.

To all the GUTGAA participants, especially those I had the opportunity to judge, I want to congratulate you on being audacious. It takes big cajones to let the world see your work. I also want to assure you that the only way you are guaranteed to fail is if you quit--so please, DON'T QUIT! The world needs you and your amazing books. Don't let our subjectivity get you down. There will be an agent, an editor, who gets your book--it's just a matter of finding them.

(For any who care, my pseudonym while judging was BEEZER. A childhood nickname I just can't seem to shake)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How does your muse roll?

Most of you know that a fat, furry hamster named Melvin spins the wheel of my brain. At times he's lazy, ornery, and completely unwilling to produce good ideas on command. But every now and then he's like a hairy little sprinter in pursuit of a gold medal. Seriously, no stopping this guy! It took me a long time to figure out what motivates Melvin to climb off his La-Z-Boy and get his fat arse running, (sadly, guacamole and beer weren't the answer) but I did--and it turns out it's a daily task: Blowing my hair dry.

It seems that the rotund rodent likes the white noise my Revlon Ionic Ceramic Pro Stylist provides. After ten minutes of upside-down, get-the-white-girl-afro-froed (it's a word) that fat little monkey is ready to write!!

So...what gets your muse rolling?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting to know author ERIC DEVINE

It's not very often that we writers get to interview someone we've actually met, but that's the case today. 
And I couldn't be more excited!!

Besides being my publishing brother *knuckle bumps to the fine folks at Running Press* he's also an incredibly cool cat. Down to earth, funny and as genuine as anyone I've ever met. His amazing book, TAP OUT (available 9/11) is raw, unapologetic and quite possibly the most honest book I've ever read. And now, without further adieu, I would like to welcome to the Rookie Riter blog, Eric Devine

*pauses for applause*

Let's jump right in with the questions, shall we?

RR: Tell us a little about your book:
ED: TAP OUT is the story of Tony Antioch's struggle to survive within a world where his drug-addicted mother is beaten by her boyfriend, the local methamphetamine-slinging biker gang wants him as a new recruit, and the mixed martial arts gym is his only outlet. Tony's friend, Rob, helps Tony as best he can, but living in the same trailer park, is subject to the pressures around. The two thrive at the MMA gym, honing their fighting skills, but soon even the gym is no longer a haven and Tony has some serious decisions to make. Living in a desperate situation, with no support, Tony does what is necessary to survive, yet holds onto the hope that his life can, and will, get better.

RR: What is it about Tony that will make readers root for him?
ED: Tony is a victim of his circumstances (poverty, addiction, abuse), yet he does not see himself as such. Rather, he wants out, desperately. He knows there is a better way, but finding a path to it seems impossible. Readers will cheer for him not only because they will want to see him succeed, but because he is damaged. Tony is not our run-of-the-mill quirky teen trying to get the girl. He's tough, but vulnerable, yet so self-reliant it's saddening, because the reason for his maturity is so painful.

RR: What are you reading right now? (For pleasure)
ED: I just finished STATE OF WONDER by Ann Pathcett. Exceptionally good and subtly terrifying.

RR: How do you handle writer's block?
ED: I pound my head against the desk. Kidding. I don't really have time for writer's block. I push like mad to make the most of my limited writing time that if I get blocked, I look at my notes for the chapter and just write. I know I may need to revise, but, in turn, I may also force revelation. 

RR: What's been your biggest reality check since becoming a published author?
ED: The work behind the scenes. I'm not great with social media, and need to be. I could find more traffic for my blog. I could figure out how to better promote myself. But there's only so much time. And my knowledge on these fronts is so limited because all I've focused on is writing. It's a steep learning curve, but I'm finding a way.

RR: What is your perfect writing environment?
ED: Early in the morning (5 am), my wife and children asleep, a mug of coffee and my tiny office, with white noise blasting out of the speakers.

RR: Any advice for aspiring authors?
ED: Make a schedule and stick to it. I very much believe in Malcom Galdwell's 10,000 hour rule. If you want to be proficient enough to sell your writing, you need to put in the work. Write for an hour, two hours, whatever you have available, and keep at it, day after day, until it's a habit. Then challenge yourself. Join a critique group, enter a contest, send a query. You'll never know how good you are until you face the crowd.

*Rookie steps outside the room to apply her beard and smart-looking spectacles.*

And now, for a few of my favorite James Lipton questions:

 What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What sound or noise do you love?
The hushing quality of snowfall

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

What profession would you not like to do?
Computer programmer

(See, I told you he was awesome!)

Eric's book is available at all the usual haunts beginning September 11. 
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy! 
(I'm personally planning on making a special trip to B&N just so I can take a picture and tweet about it. #dork) 

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Eric. Best of luck to you with TAP OUT and future projects.

(*side note: Forced Revelation is my new band! Love that!!)