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Boxing Day, Breaks, As Told By Buffy Pup (Willow Too!)

Once upon a time on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas), I woke up to Buffy Pup laying on the floor and looking rather exasperated.

"Jeebus, Mom. Are you EVAR GOING TO FINISH IT? I'll just lie here until you do."

“Jeebus, Mom. Are you EVAR GOING TO FINISH IT? I’ll just lie here until you do.”

By “it,” I can only assume she was referring to the book I’ve been working on these last couple months. Sure, two months isn’t a horrible amount of time for book completion. One might say two months is quite quick. But when there are other books to write and much distraction is needed, sometimes finishing the first project opens up all sorts of room for the next.

Buffy knows I meant to finish it by last week (or even before), and she’s quite disgusted with my slovenly lack of attempts.

At this point, Willow looked up from sneaking a lick of my empty cereal bowl.

"Oh. Were you not done with this? What exactly were you talking about?"

“Oh. Were you not done with this? What exactly were you talking about?”

She seemed to agree with Buffy that the writing of this new WIP was taking A Very Long Time. Two months to a kitten and a puppy is a quite interminable amount of time. To them, it’s like a year. And they made no secret of how silly they think it is that I’ve been hovering around the last quarter of it for Three Entire Weeks.

Then Willow perked up and asked, “Mom. If it’s Boxing Day, are you going to get me MOAR BOXES to play in?”

At this point, Buffy had gone to sleep to wait for me to finish the book and didn’t much care about a conversation concerning boxes she is too large to fit into comfortably. Willow quite liked the idea of an Entire Day devoted to boxing things up, including small kitties who fancy exploring such things.

Unfortunately, I then had to break the news to her that there would be no arrival of gifts and their inevitable boxes, as Boxing Day is not much celebrated in this country. More’s the pity, because I actually do work in the service industry.

Her reaction was almost deliciously meme-like.

"You mean to tell me that I'm not getting any boxes? And you're not finishing your book? My world is over."

“You mean to tell me that I’m not getting any boxes? And you’re not finishing your book? My world is over.”

Buffy woke up, perhaps brightened by the idea that she wouldn’t have to be jealous of Willow getting a large number of boxes to play in when Buffy has tried and failed so many times to enjoy such a past time.

She trundled over and looked at me very seriously.

“You’re always staring at the black foldy box thing and making it go click-click-click. But you still haven’t finished your damn book, and I’m not getting any younger.”

“I’m blogging,” I told her. “In fact, today you’re one of the stars of my blog post.”

She brightened a bit at that, then shook her head and roo-rooed at me.

"Flattery won't charm this dog, Mom. Get your arse working. I want to eat filet mignon every night instead of this dry crap."

“Flattery won’t charm this dog, Mom. Get your arse working. I want to eat filet mignon every night instead of this dry crap.”

And then she continued, “You’re not clicky-clicky-ing on the right thing, Mom. Finish your book so you can take me out to pounce the white stuff outside again.”

I don’t think Buffy quite realizes how long it takes to do what she wanted me to do, but shhh, don’t tell her. Besides, the snow that fell last night will likely be gone in a few hours. I also don’t think she understands that finishing this book will not, in fact, result in her eating filet mignon every night. (She got a taste of prime rib fat last night and has become a bit overbearing about the quality of her normal food.)

Both Buffy and Willow had a point, however. If, for the past month I had been say, writing 1000 words a day on my book instead of blogging, it would be done by now, softly simmering on the shelf while I plot and plan the next one.

Cough.

Not that I don’t love blogging, gentle viewers. I do. Quite a lot. And I’ve a number of things planned for 2013 that shall be (I hope) exciting. However, the critters are right. It’s time for me to get this book done.

So, that is my Boxing Day announcement. Due in part to the fact that I am having to pick up a lot of work shifts and thus give up my days off this week, I have a lot less time. I shall return after the new year (possibly to regale you with tales of Louis C.K., who we are going to see on New Year’s Eve). When I do, I shall have another completed book in tow.

See you next week!

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#PitchMAS, #PitchWars, and the Query Trenches

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 51st week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Thorsday, so I shall write what I want — and what I want to write about today is part of the writing business. Pitching. No, not like baseball or cricket. You don’t want the end result to be someone smacking your work away with a bat. But the kind of pitching where you hope someone falls in lurve with your fuzzy little novel.

What a week to be a writer.

There’s so much going on that my little Emmie brain is full of lightning and fur. And I think there are a few Jelly Bellies stuck in there from my Thanksgiving binge. (Raspberry, FTW.)

This week is home to not one, but TWO massive Pitchapalooza events all about helping writers get requests and exposure. It’s also the first time I’ve done any contests.

So here they are, in all their glory:

Pitch Wars

Hosted by the indomitable Brenda Drake, this awesome contest struck me as unique from the start. First of all, it starts by pairing writers up with agented authors, industry insiders, and agent interns for mentors. After the pair-up stage, the mentors will help their authors hone their manuscripts and pitches for the agent/editor round. Sound great?

It gets better. As a writer, you could apply to three different mentors. And I found three AWESOME ones. One of my favourite bloggers, Summer Heacock, happened to be one of the mentors. Add to that, fellow Whedonite and Browncoat Becca Weston. And on top of THAT, an actual ninja — Tina Moss.

So I applied, I flailed, and now I wait. *eats imaginary popcorn ‘n’ parm*

To distract myself from waiting for the 12 December announcement of mentor-writer lurve, I’ve been doing…

PitchMAS

It’s like Christmas, but with pitches…and oh, you know what I mean. This bad boy was put together by Jessa Russo and Feaky Snucker. If you’re around The Twitter Writer World AT ALL, those names ought to ring a bell. Not only are they awesome, but they set up a phenomenal pitch extravaganza for all of us hopeful folk with finished, polished manuscripts. (Or we tell ourselves they’re polished…eep.)

Yesterday was the blog pitch day which landed me a request from an editor (yay!)…the downside was a bunch of the agents (scheduled and swooping ninja agents) had already seen my query. So today it’s onward to the Twitter round, where we’re tweeting our pitches at the #PitchMAS hashtag. Here’s mine:

Super strength? Check. Questionable spandex suit? Check. Now accountant Gwen just has to save Scotland from her bomb-crazy boss. #PitchMAS

What’s Racing Through Emmie-Land

Both of these things are new territory for me. Between the personal stuff that’s happened this autumn and the financial woes Spouse and I are slogging through, I’ve been feeling really, really discouraged. About my writing. About the chance of ever getting an agent. About the state of my toenails, because let’s face it, after their encounter with a metal bar this summer, they’re still hideous.

What I’m clinging to is hope. Hope that all the people who said my manuscript moved them, thrilled them, attack hugged them — that they weren’t just lying through their teeth to encourage me. Hope that the agents who have told me they loved it (unfortunately with a but that followed, for instance, one was looking only to sign non-fiction) meant it too — and hope that it’ll make it in front of the right eyeballs before I reach the end of my query list.

Hope that I’ll get a chance. That’s all I want. A chance.

Till then I’ll keep writing.

Happy Thorsday to you! Where’s Mjolnir when I need it?

Tough Love

After writing yesterday’s dismal blog post and spending a blur of a night at work miserable (mostly due to my entire lack of voice and making very little money), I was feeling a bit like this:

120312115545

Pity party supplies courtesy of Kristin McFarland.

But yesterday some help arrived in the form of advice (both from you all in the comments and from a cousin who is a financial planner) and a loan. So we should be able to reach the surface this week and stop feeling like we are drowning. My cousin is lending us what we need, and without sharing too many details, we basically don’t have to pay it back — it will be repaid in the future by something else.

His condition is that we go through our finances with him in total, and I think I’m more grateful for his advice than the money. We needed help figuring out where we’re bleeding money and where we are holding ourselves back. We also needed a professional to give us some tough love. My cousin was able to pinpoint several of those areas in just one email.

I’ve always been a planner, and there is a chance (I’m not admitting anything) that I am a closet control freak. Maybe not a control freak, but I hate feeling like I’m surviving at the whims of others like I hate the smell of artichokes. And I reeeeally hate the smell of artichokes. Makes me urp.

So here’s what I’m going to do in the next month to get us from “back on track” to “moving forward:”

hauling

hauling (Photo credit: gato-gato-gato)

1. Pick up shifts. Lots of shifts.

We need to greet the New Year with more than a squeak. We need to greet the New Year with rent on the first and all our bills on time with room to spare. Ambitious? Yeah. But picking up at least a shift a week will help with it. I’ve already picked up one for this week. I’m going to try for another.

1-08-06 christmas tree 011

1-08-06 christmas tree 011 (Photo credit: takfoto)

2. No Christmas presents under the tree. 

None. We can’t afford it, and the holidays will come back around in a year. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we can make up for it next year. The biggest gift we can give ourselves this year is peace of mind. We’ll spend our day off on the 25th celebrating our marriage with a good meal and honouring our commitment to building a better life for ourselves.

Plus, if the world ends on the 21st, all that money spent on presents would be wasted anyway.

help wanted

help wanted (Photo credit: kandyjaxx)

3. Second jobs.

Neither of us work 40 hours a week right now because we just don’t get the hours, and because Spouse’s music school job cut his hours, it means the steady income in our household has been halved. We both need to pick up something on the side.

For me, it means trying to get my foot in the door at Cracked, pitching articles and hoping they pick a couple of them up. If I can find something else a couple days a week, I’ll do that too. Anything for a boost in income to get our debt paid down and our bills ahead of the game. For Spouse, it will probably mean getting something else a couple days a week and consolidating his lessons so they’re not spread out over 7 days and getting more clients. It’s not going to be easy. But the hard fact is that if we were both working 40 hours a week, we would be more than fine.

03-17-2009_uhaul-300x206

03-17-2009_uhaul-300×206 (Photo credit: David Guo’s Master)

4. Plan for a relocation.

We know we won’t be able to buy a house here, probably ever if we’re honest. The job market may be marginally better in Maryland/DC than in other places, but the cost of living is so much higher that we could take a significant pay cut elsewhere and still have more of a buffer of income. For instance, salaries in Buffalo are 12% lower than here, but the cost of living is a whopping 37% lower there than here. That’s a difference of 25%.

I’m going to start looking for Jobs (capitalised for a reason, meaning not serving tables jobs) in the summer and see what I find. The sad truth is that if I can find a decent paying job in a city like Buffalo, it would be as much as Spouse and I make now combined, with more purchasing power.

So it’s Monday. It’s a new day. I didn’t wake up with a new lease on life, per say, but I woke up with a little less of a rained on feeling. And my voice has returned from wherever it slunk off to on Thursday. Something about literally being unable to speak doesn’t help feelings of helplessness.

Thank you to everyone who left me comments yesterday and your well-wishes. We will figure it out. I’ll keep trying to get published. I’ll bounce back. I always do.

I just needed a little tough love.

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