Some Wisdom from a Great One

August 16, 2016 at 10:59 am (Authors, Virtual Gems)

And no, I’m not talking about Wayne Gretzky. I’m talking about The Melissa Blue. (No, really–that’s her name, see?) And the woman drops hella knowledge, one such gem being this morning.

Check it out–

Capture

Now, I wanted to draw your attention to this for two reasons. The first is she’s absolutely right–do NOT compare your career to someone else’s. An ugly dark path does indeed await you and it can mess you the fuck up. So don’t. Just don’t.

But the second reason is she’s 100% right about the Catch-22. You grow and learn by doing it yourself, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the help that is there in front of you. There are trailblazers, experts, and mavericks aplenty out there and why not take a look at what they did to see how, if at all, it fits you? It’d be crazy not to, but yeah, watch your step. The difference between sifting for gems and that nasty black pit of self-doubt is only a few degrees but the lingering effect is enormous. Just watch your step.

(For more awesome knowledge and seriously HAWT books, check out Melissa at her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.)

 

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Why a Writing Challenge is Important (Secrets Within…)

May 27, 2016 at 9:06 am (30 Days of Write, Creativity, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

So, last you heard from me was–gosh–over two months ago on March 20th. (I’d link it but it was a pretty small post and you know how to find it if you really do want to read it.) Anyhoozles, you are due an update, probably treats and booze too, but we’ll start with the update.

My 30 Days of Write Challenge for March? I did not accomplish a sentence a day for 30 of the 31 days, so one might argue that the challenge was a fail. However, I accomplished something much greater (two things, perhaps) so I call the challenge a great big bucket of win. This leads us to Outcome #1:

A writing challenge is what you make it, so don’t let the rules tell you otherwise or make you feel awful about how you finished.

Here’s what happened to me.

I was motoring along, doing my sentence (plus) a day, when something wonderful happened. I was driving to work, listening to the soundtrack to my book when another book popped into my head. This is one I’ve been working on for a while and it’s been vexing me. I’m thiiiiiiiiiiiiis close–got a strong, fierce heroine but my hero needed that one little something to put him in the neighborhood of the woman he was supposed to end up with. Well, something about the other book’s soundtrack and, what I truly and firmly believe is the writing muscle I’d been flexing during the challenge, came together to bop me on the head like Tinkerbell’s wand to say, “This is what your hero needs to be.”

Ka-blam. Pow. Holy shit. Cue fireworks. I had it. I had it!

This is where the writing challenged diverged in the yellow wood and I, I took the path less edited. Or needing to be edited, I guess, but yeah–I honored Tinkerbell’s bonk on the head and started editing the other book, knowing I was putting my sentence-a-day book on the back burner. But you know what? That’s okay, and it leads us to Outcome #2:

A writing challenge is what you make it, so if you need to leave or alter your original plan, it’s okay to do.

So the editing was going awesomely–I tore through the first quarter of my book by the end of March (so hell yeah, I’m calling my March challenge won and done!) and I was feeling great. But then something beautiful happened again and yes, dear reader, I’m calling this a direct result of the challenge, that writing muscle I’d been flexing–no matter how small–on a daily basis.

I’ve had this other book (don’t we all have about seventy kabillion ideas floating in our heads at any one time?) that I’ve been letting stew deep in the fecund writing stew of my brain. I had a soundtrack and oh damn did I have the characters in my head (and they’re so awesome together. {swoons}) and I had some crucial scenes but it wasn’t ready yet.

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Ka-blam. Pow. Holy shit. Cue fireworks. Tinkerbell’s wand hit me again, gave me a plot point that just tied it all together with a neat little bow. And I started writing this story and it has been flowing so deliciously. I think I’m around 35K right now and am just loving the hell out of it.

So that’s where I’ve been for the past 2 months–editing and writing like a fiend, swimming with the tide my writing challenge started way back on March 1st. That book I started then? Yeah, it’s still in there, building and growing in the back of my head, and I know it’s going to have its moment like this current one did. It’s my process and I am Ned Flanders okily-dokily with it. Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, this tide is going to carry me through the summer and into the fall. And if I need some help somewhere in there, well you can bet I’m going to get another 30 Days of Write started, give me the boost I need to get back where I need to be.

Yawp.DSC01733

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One Sentence Has Never Meant So Much

March 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm (30 Days of Write, Creativity, Random Thoughts, Virtual Gems, Writing)

So, here I am at Day 20 for my 30 Days of Write challenge. I just wrote my official sentence (two of them, actually) for today, so I can tell you with swear-on-a-stack-of-bibles truth tDSC02190hat I am meeting my challenge. I haven’t even used my cheat day yet, though some days have been verrrrrrry close.

A sentence a day has been more difficult than I thought, but it’s also been more rewarding. I’ll talk about it more when I’m done and have had a little bit of time to reflect on my 30 Days of Write, but for now I can tell you this: it’s been amazing. Doing a sentence every day forces you to think about your story more than usual, because you have this once-a-day goal chained to your brain. Sure, it’s a tiny goal, but the effects are huge. The sentence is the pebble, but the ripples are the payoff.

Yawp.

http://www.PamelaCayne.com

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Friday Linky

February 3, 2012 at 9:11 am (Virtual Gems, Writing)

First, though, a proper greeting. Hello. How are you? I’m doing well, thanks. Better than well, in fact. I don’t know if it’s the pharmaceuticals rushing through my body or a delightful, thoughtful, and painful evening yesterday (yes, all three, though not necessarily at once), but I am feeling op-ta-freaking-mistic! I had more layers to an upcoming book start to pile on, a very unexpected conversation about bullet wounds leading to my thriller rearing its bloody head (in more ways than one…), and overall I am just Happy Pam the Writer today. Do the Happy Dance with me, won’t you?

So, moving on to the linky-linkies! (Sorry. No graceful way to transition. Deal.)

  • Marjorie Liu talks about Writer’s Block. I found this by a retweet and thought it was fascinating! There seems to be some minor kerfuffles about this dreaded disease (I have Writer’s Block vs. You don’t hear about plumbers getting Plumber’s Block) and thought Marjorie had an instesting take on it. Makes me wonder if Writer’s Block shouldn’t be renamed Square Peg in Round Hole Syndrome or It’s Not Shiny. Lots to be pondered here.
  • And speaking of It’s Not Shiny, check out Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things You Should Know About Story Structure. (Yeah, #1 relates *directly* to that whole Writer’s Block thing…) and in my humble opinion, this post really gets you in a great place for plotting, characterization, themes, and yeah–structure. (Chuck is also the genius who brought you 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now). I strongly suggest you bookmark this man’s blog or follow him on Twitter. Streams of wisdom fall from his mouth like coffee after a visit to the dentist.
  • Jason Arnopp’s Your Script is Not a Lottery Ticket is a fabulous article. Replace “script” with “manuscript” and “judges” with “agents/editors” and, wow, you’ve got it. (It reminds me of a Steven Axelrod seminar from Nationals a few years ago.) I think if you can get in the mindset of writing the best, most awesome, most polished, most from-your-bleeding-guts-0f-emotion story you can, it doesn’t matter what your competition is or who’s on the other end, you will strike a chord.

So, go forth and be awesome in your writing. Embrace it, tickle it, whisper sweet words to it. Throw it to the ground and make it your bitch if that’s what your writing demands, but just don’t do it half-heartedly.

Woo–got a little carried away from the power of those links! Now, if y’all will excuse me, I’ve got a manuscript that needs a touch of lovin’…

See you next week.

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This Monkey Typed Shakespeare

May 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm (Events, Virtual Gems)

 

Hi! Yes, I’m still alive (which you knew because you check me out on Twitter or Facebook, right? Right? *wink wink*)  So anyhoozles, I promise to get something like an update post here soon (maybe with some awesome pictures of pancakes), but I had to tell you what happened to me this week first.

So I’m at work on Monday, dressed very nicely in a patterned white, button-down shirt, navy slacks and navy heels. Tres office chic, no? A little before lunch, I’m craving a little something fizzy and caffeine-y, so decide to go to the small store across the street and get my infusion of diet Dr. Pepper. Rather than take my big bag o’purse, I grab a couple of bills and start to stick them in my pocket. But as the bills don’t get tucked away anywhere, I’m realizing my slacks are sans pockets, tiny decorative ones or otherwise. Specifically, I think, “Hey. These pants don’t have pockets.”

The thought cracks me up so much–really, I’m my own best audience–that I instantly decide to tweet that very thought. See? 

So I get my frosty beverage, eat lunch, work, yanno–daily things. A little later I notice that I was getting some rather odd responses to my tweet. By men. By men I don’t know and who do not follow me. Responses like:

  • Seriously? Without pockets, what’s the use of clothes at all?
  • Better than the other way around.
  • What, you mean pockets without pants? That’s what I have.
  • Check your shirt. Is it red?
  • “Hey, these pants don’t have pockets.” ~Commander Wil Ryker

And with those last two comments,  I think I’m starting to understand. Somehow I’ve stumbled into a Star Trek: The Next Generation reference. I tried to google it and came up with something kinda close, but am still having a general WTF moment. I pass it off until the next day, when I think to hit the button that shows retweets. Needless to say I was gobsmacked when I saw my innocent little post had been retweeted by the one and only Jane Espenson.

Yes, I had a moment. Several, in fact. However, rather than own up to my savaant-like tweet, I simply sat back, enjoyed my brief brush with Jane, and reflected on what I had learned.

  1. Post what you want to, not what you think is going to gain you retweets and followers. As soon as you stop trying so hard is when you hit it out of the park.
  2. It’s true. Sit a monkey in front of a typewriter long enough and he’s going to spit out Shakespeare.

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The Lord Giveth…

March 18, 2011 at 8:23 am (Virtual Gems)

 

I haz a happy…

I haz a sad…

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RWA: The Crazy Signs edition

August 16, 2010 at 8:31 am (Events, Virtual Gems)

 

Hello and happy Monday, lovely blog readers!  (Oops–accidentally typed “reader” there. Think my subconscious knows something I don’t?) I did promise you a crazy signs edition to wrap up my RWA coverage, and, I must say, this might be my favorite post of RWA. I don’t know why, but so many of the signs of the Swan and Dolphin, DisneyWorld (and surrounding area) and even the Denver airport just tickled me to no end. I know–I should have been taking pictures of the people, the outfits, the fabulosity that is Nationals, but no. I take pictures of signs. Next year I’ll be better–pinky swear.

So, the first sign picture was going to be me and the “Hello Florida” sign, but I figured even as much as I loved it, you were getting sick of it, so let’s move on to something better, shall we?

It’s hard to go wrong at a place that is so active in wishing you happy thoughts. I mean, wouldn’t that be an awesome job–the “Magical Day” sign wrangler?

This one cracked me up because I could just picture some direction-challenged tourist (*kaff*Mom*kaff*) looking at the sign and asking out loud, “Now where is the Dolphin?” and totally missing the huge stone fish just a few degrees off center.

I found proof what happened to all the bugs at Disney. The poor sucker who drives this truck has to get up every morning and wrangle them. (Maybe Disney has a catch-and-release program and the bugs are all taken to a lovely farm in the country…)

Saw this one at Hollywood Studios. All I can say is I’ve been Beaker more times than I can count.

This was also at Hollywood Studios. No, it’s not a sign (it’s the Little Mermaid fountain) but that “fish” just made me laugh and shudder at the same time. Is it a dolphin that takes the short bus? Is this Flounder or Nemo’s backwoods cousin? Can Disney artists just not get the concept of a fish? (There was quite a Twitter feed on the less-than-accurate dolphin statue gracing the Dolphin resort.) Call me odd, but I had to share it.

And since steampunk was causing some buzz at RWA, when I saw this sign at the Denver Airport, I knew I had to get a shot of it. C’mon–just say it out loud. Elevator Machine. It sounds so deliciously steampunky, doesn’t it?

My other shot from Denver. I’ll let this one speak for itself.

And, once again the “Magical Day” wrangler has struck. To each and all, I wish you a magical day and wonderful week!

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Pam, meet James. James, this is Pam.

June 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm (Events, Virtual Gems)

So, as I tweeted with great excitement and awe a few weeks ago, I got to meet James Marsters. Yes, that James Marsters. Spike. (Or as I’ve always called him, Spikey.) Gather round boys and girls, while I tell you the story of how this happened.

It all started months ago when I heard he was going to be at a convention Montana and I had been talking about going to, and once I heard Spikey was confirmed to be there, we signed up. Later, it was announced that Emma Caulfield (Anya) and Felicia Day (potential slayer Vi in season 7) were going to be there as well, so I got my Buffy on and we headed out.

Friday I did a walk-by of his table and saw him.

In real life.

Yes, it was a moment. Unfortunately (or however you want to look at it), they had some tight security and line monitors, and…well…it’s true. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Especially at a sci-fi convention with James Marsters in your stable. So I got rushed along by the line monitor swifter than tween girls aiming for Justin Bieber on a photo shoot. So what’s a girl to do? Yup, I grabbed Montana and got in line.

Not more than 10 minutes later I’m next in line to meet Spikey. I remember making a conscious decision to not make eye contact with him until I was standing directly in front of him, but looking back I have no idea why. As much as I’d like to call my probable reason deep or cool or anything else, odds are it was nerves. (That or trying to keep FanGirl well and truly quashed so she couldn’t do anything embarrassing. Or illegal.) Anyhoozles, we’re waiting, talking to a few of the people there helping him. The nice people had nice color photos for him to sign if we wanted to purchase them, but not me—I had my Buffy book with a lovely page for him to autograph.

Next was the woman who was asking me for my name, and by this time I can see out of the corner of my eye that Spikey is done with the person before me, and looking for the next person in line. I tell the woman, her pen and paper held ready, that my name is Pam. She asks me to spell it (true story—ask Montana) and I obligingly say, “P-A-M.” She doesn’t even write it down, just turns to James and says, “I think you can handle that.” He laughed.

And then I met him.

Wow. No, let me say that again. Wow. I didn’t know what I had been expecting, except I knew not to expect Spikey, but rather, James. No British accent, no bleached blond hair, no Spikey edge, but you know what? I might have to say I’d take James over Spikey.

James was so freaking nice I have trouble describing it here. We joked about the crazy spellings of people’s names, he listened as I gushed, er, spoke eloquently of my love for Buffy, not only as an entertaining show, but as a lesson in world-building and arcs and themes, and then told me something I hadn’t heard before—Joss didn’t like Spike. He didn’t write for him. If it were up to Joss, Spikey would have probably been maybe a season-long Big Bad, but nowhere near the force he ends up being. I wasn’t thinking enough to ask who did write for his character, but I thank whatever powers live in the celestial sphere that they did.

He shook my hand, he shook Montana’s hand, and away we went. I might have been a little giggly at that point, but I remember thinking just how freaking nice James was.

I can call him James now. We’re on a first name basis. See?

Now, you are all screaming, why didn’t you get a good picture with him? Well, the powers that be deemed that the celebrities could only do posed photos if you paid for a photo ticket, and they weren’t cheap, so no official photo. However, this is me. I did ask James anyway and he said he couldn’t, but if there were to be candid photos taken, he really couldn’t say anything about that now, could he? (Told you—freaking nice!)

And the next day I wanted to go back and see if we could get another candid shot, but it was Saturday and he was swamped from then onward, so these were the best I got:

Then, to add the cherry on top of this hot fudge sundae of awesomeness, on Saturday he also took place in a “Spotlight on James Marsters” seminar, and we got to hear him talk about the cast of Buffy vs. Angel, kissing men, and yes, sing a little bit of “Rest in Peace.”

I haven’t washed my ears since.

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It’s Cinnamon Roll Day

May 17, 2010 at 6:00 am (Events, Virtual Gems)

Last September I started to query agents for my dark Victorian romance, BROKEN, and I had some good response–in fact, some great response. So, of course, I did what I naturally do  when given just a teaspoon’s of encouragement and started to envision grand things which included, but was not limited to, finaling in the GH, being signed by my dream agent, having her sell my book in a pre-emptive multi-book and seven figure auction, and finding a magical unicorn in the backyard who could find diamonds in the earth with its horn. (I know–overkill, but I said grand, not timid.)

Then I started to calm down. (That also may have been when I cut back on the caffeine–I’m not sure, but it’s veeeeeery possible.)

And in one clear and calm moment, I told Montana I’d figured out the one thing that would happen for me to consider this year a success: to not have to sign up for agent/editor appointments at the RWA National Convention in July.

You see, every year many of the lovely and wonderful editors and agents who go to RWA spend a great deal of their weekend listening to 8-minute pitches from those authors who are un-editored and un-agented (most times, both.) Here’s been my experiences with these little 8-minute golden tickets:

On the RWA site, there’s a chart of interests to help you find the right agent and/or editor right for you, and then according to the schedule, you get online and sign up. Now, I have no proof of this, but I firmly feel that when these appointments hit the web during successive Monday mornings in May, there is a worldwide frenzy of romance authors young, old, tall, short, sweet, sexy, ready to be published, and those who’ve just typed ‘The End’ two minutes ago, all anxiously hovering over their keyboards, clicking on the choices and seeing who of their list is still available (all while praying to whatever god(s) in their religious arsenal that day) and hitting submit, rubbing their lucky talisman(s) for it to go through and not to get that damned ‘server  is busy’ notice. I know we crash the RWA server each and every May. (I also feel very sorry for the RWA webmistress and IT department those days, but that’s another story.)

As I mentioned, these spots hit the website Monday mornings in May (depending on your status–GH nominee, PRO member, etc.), and they hit at 8:00 a.m. RWA headquarters time, which is 6:00 a.m. me time. So I’m up at 5:45, making sure I’m ready to go–computer up and active, sheets of research with my fully vetted list of wants, and enough stomach acid to burn through Old Ironsides. Because, in my desperate and burning desire to get published, these opportunities were indeed a golden ticket–most times an absolute invitation to put those coveted “Requested Material” words on your envelope (or email)–and not to be taken lightly.

So, in 2007 while querying my rom-com-para-lite, I got my agent request, and when I tried for my editor request (the late, amazing Kate Duffy) I was told it didn’t go through. Merde! Back to the website! I was able to choose another fabulous editor, but by this time I was getting really late for work and didn’t have time to wait and see if my second choice went through or not. I slapped some peanut butter on an English muffin and my dearest and sweetest Montana volunteered to stay behind and watch the computer for me. After I get to work (a 40-minute commute), he called and told me it had gone through–hooray! But wait, what kerfuffle is this? When I check my email for confirmation of my appointments, I do see my agent request, but I show BOTH Kate Duffy and choice #2. By this time the stomach acid is in full roll, and I immediately email RWA telling them what had happened, and who my first choice was. (For, you see, when you sign up, you’re warned in Very Dire Terms, that if you skip out on your appointment, you will be kicked off the list for next year and have other possible repercussions fall upon your sad and unpublished head. (Or something like that…)) The last thing I wanted was to be placed on that black list due to an internet error. Thankfully, RWA got me straightened out and got me on the Kate Duffy list (8 minutes I treasure to this day), but by this point, I had made myself sick with worry and ended up going home from work shortly after 11:00 a.m.

In 2008, the list of those agents and editors taking appointments seemed smaller, or maybe just in my categories (both paranormal and women’s fiction), but I had my list, by god, and I was going to register for another round of golden tickets. Again, up at 5:45, this time with better internet service and a backup computer on standby, and was able to break through to get an editor and agent appointment. Thankfully, I didn’t get sick that year, but the stress was there all the same.

Then came 2009, ah-the heartbreak year. Now I was ready to query my dark Victorian romance. I was able to get not only an excellent editor choice, but I was able to land a spot with my dream agent. Only to have to cancel my trip to Nationals not two weeks later. Truthfully, I don’t remember the stress, or the crazy and frenetic weeks of research leading up to that Monday–just the immediate joy followed by the awful and heartbreaking anguish.

But fear not, lovely and supportive blog readers–there’s a happy ending! No, I wasn’t able to get that face-to-face time in Washington D.C. last July, but in my September queries, I did send to that dream agent, and you know the rest–I signed with her three months ago based on my query, my story, and my voice. No golden ticket necessary.

So, I remember on that Saturday so many months ago when I told Montana I’d be happy not having to repeat the 5:45 a.m., multi-computer, weeks of stress, dive into the appointment tank of pain, I was going to celebrate that Monday instead. Yes, you guessed it–that Monday is today. So I am indeed celebrating by not getting up way too early and making myself sick from too much stress, but by pouring a big glass of milk, putting a scrumptious and frosted cinnamon roll in the microwave with some butter, and eating that warm and gooey goodness with a big old smile on my face. That, my friends, is happiness.

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11 Weeks and Counting…

May 12, 2010 at 11:22 am (Events, Virtual Gems)

 

Yes, eleven weeks from today is the Literacy Signing, the unofficial kickoff to the summer RWA National Conference. And after all the heartbreaking news last week coming out of Nashville, including that of our beloved Gaylord Opryland being under double-digits of water, I was delighted with the swift and awesome response of the RWA staff and board in moving the conference to Orlando, specifically the Swan and Dolphin Resort of DisneyWorld. (Also being called the S&D, the Swan and Dragon, and now the Feather and Fin between Montana and myself.)

Even though I’m not necessarily a DisneyWorld/Land kinda gal, I must admit to being quite impressed by the splendor that is the S&D. I would be delighted as a litter of new puppies if it weren’t for one thing–the plane ride. See, as much as I love to travel, I’m really not a big fan of flying. Going somewhere fun? Check! Carts of beverages and snacks being offered like the trolley on the Hogwarts Express? Check! My wussy motion sickness gene? Yup–check! (Thankfully, I’ve never been truly sick on a plane, but if I have too quick of a connecting flight or turbulence in flight, I definitely feel the effects.)

However, for Nationals, I will gladly step on any number of planes. Heck–I told one person I’d walk across broken burning glass for Nationals, and I meant it. Slam me a Dramamine, tie a towel around my chin for the drool, and I am your gal! Not like Nationals isn’t an amazing conference any year, but this year is extra special. This is the year I have An Agent (and no, I’m not going to jinx myself by saying what else I hope to have in the next 11 weeks!) so I get to meet her face-to-face for the first time and we’ll talk and plan and do each other’s hair and all of the fun things that authors and their agents do, right?

Plus I’m really, really, really looking forward to reconnecting with friends and meeting new internet buddies and chatting with other wonderful authors under my agency umbrella–it’s WriterPalooza with mouse ears and I am just eighteen kinds of excited for it to get here! Here’s how excited I am–yesterday at the drug store I bought a little travel pack of Q-Tips for $.79 for my Beauty Necessities bag. It’s so cute–three rows of 10 Q-Tips each in a little plastic sliding case! And that’s just the beginning. Pretty soon the stacks are going to start on the living room sofa and checklists are going to be resurrected from past Nationals and new ones made for this one. And yes, a new round of Conference Prep posts are going to be going up here, possibly with a little extra if you know what I mean (wink, wink!) but you’re going to have to stay tuned for those announcements!

It’s conference time, people. Suit up!

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