Monday, June 24, 2013


As a veterinarian, it makes me cringe to see people out biking with their pets running alongside in the middle of the day in the summer.  Heat stroke is a serious condition.  As part of my mission to help pets, I write a newspaper article every summer on just this topic.  Be smart.  Be careful.  Be kind to your pets.

Friday, June 21, 2013


26.2 days of writing tips, coping tips, and emotional support
13,000 word count
4 pictures of Christopher Plummer
5 references to The Princess Bride (at least 5, there could be more)
repeat praise of the poem Desiderata, C.S. Lewis, and my critique group

And an excessive number of cute animal pics like this one!

That's it in a nutshell.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I started blogging to join a Twitter/online writing contest. 

Then I volunteered at the Med City Marathon.  For three hours I froze my butt off (May in Minnesota--gotta love it), got rained on, and really had to pee.  The event inspired me, not to run a marathon (at least not this year), but to write one instead.

The plan:  I'd blog every day about writing for 26.2 days.  About halfway through, I thought I'd run out of topics, but I just kept going and here we are at the end--almost.

Blogging is weird.  It's like a diary that you want others to read.  Twenty years ago I wouldn't have done this.  I never told anybody anything--so closed off it wasn't good for my mental health.

Now I have the opposite problem--I can't shut up.

I've heard I'm supposed to have a inspirational goal for my blog, kind of like a theme song.
This dead president sums it up in one sentence:

Yes, I write.  Of course I want my books to be published.  I can't live if I don't have goals.

But since I have more in my life than writing, my blog will reflect this.  The writing marathon is over.  Be prepared for any topic to follow.

My hope is that this blog will help others put up a good fight.  If you're having trouble getting an agent, making enough breastmilk to feed your son, or dealing with a miscarriage--I hope my words help you through your struggle. 

Just like C.S. Lewis said:

Hang in there.  The clouds will disappear.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Our story starts quite a few years ago...

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

I'd done it!  I'd finished a book!  Feeling very good about myself, I ever so proudly placed a polished copy in my esteemed highschool English teacher's hands.

Every day I checked my email, waiting for her praise.

After several months, I finally asked her what she thought.

"Sorry, I just can't get through it."   (she wasn't the type of person to sugar-coat anything, not even candy)

This is me, shrinking in embarrassment!

And there you have it, the dismal words from the same teacher who once honored me with the Senior writing award because she said I had potential (and I'd worked on the school paper with her for years).

POTENTIAL WHAT?  was the question.

I plodded onward, attending a local writer's conference where I first heard the term "manuscript consulting".

I hired Mary Logue to read my MS.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...

Mary Logue set me straight:  "You need to shorten your sentences, paragraphs, and chapters."

About the only thing that didn't require shortening was my height (5'2").

But she had more to say:  "You need to ditch the outer story.  You have a fairy tale saga that has everything in it you need all by itself."

Before she was done with me, she had one more piece of advice:  "And you need to join a writer's group...pronto!"

She told me everything I needed to hear, it just took me a while to listen.

It was the spring of hope...

I took a good, hard look at my MS.  It sat dense, single-spaced, and heavy in the binder.  Even though I'd compressed what is now TWO books (and an outer story) together into one brick load, the whole thing probably had 10 or less chapters.

And my paragraphs were lengthy, perhaps 2-3 per page.

I'm blushing just thinking about how bad it was.

No wonder it was hard to read!

And yet it pained me to cut the outer story, because I loved Bernard, the grandpa who told the fairy tale to his kids (yeah, I know it's been done better elsewhere).

I loved Bernard so much, that instead of really getting down to work on Desiderata, I wrote a different book instead.

Remember my sudden inspiration in Mile 20?  Well, my inspiration lasted for 3 pages which I then stuffed in a drawer.  But I knew the MC would watch someone die, then try to bring him back again, only to resurrect someone else instead.

And now I knew that she would bring back Bernard!

I didn't care about the plot I tossed from Desiderata.  I only cared about Bernard.

(Oh, and have I mentioned that if my lovely Bernard should ever make it into a movie, I'm going to send Christopher Plummer candy and chocolates and flowers and love notes BEGGING him to "be" Bernard every day until he agrees to do it--I'm sure he'll be quite impressed!)

So for three months, I wrote furiously, a chapter or two a day, sending them off to my great friend, my writing cheerleader, Colleen.

And I entitled this endeavor The Drownings.

Since no one liked the title except me (and Colleen, her awesomeness), it got changed multiple times.  First to Bewitched & Bewildered and then finally How to Date Dead Guys.  (The last title started as a joke which stuck.)

It was the winter of despair... 

I began to query Desiderata, not having any idea what I was doing.  I didn't query smart, and I didn't query much, but anyone I did query rejected it.

When I first queried The Drownings, it was long before this New Adult explosion, and although a few agents said the premise was intriguing, they didn't know what to do with it.

One well-meaning agent told me I should set in a boarding high school and make it YA.  It's quite possible that if I'd followed her advice, I might be published by now, because after she brought the idea to my attention I looked around and found that a ton of YA books are set in boarding school.

Such as this very welcoming facility pictured don't you just feel at home?

But I didn't know anything about boarding school.  I'd never even met anyone who actually attended a boarding school. 

But I did know about college, specifically the UW-Eau Claire campus where I set my stage.  I grew up in Eau Claire, my Dad taught at UW-Eau Claire, and I hiked and ran along Putnam Trail.  This campus, and the Chippewa River running straight through it, could be the only setting for my story.

So I stubbornly plodded on.

We had everything before us...

After much hesitation (and let's be honest, fear), I finally joined the Rochester library writing group. 

It was an eye opener.

For both books.

The comments people came up with astounded me, confused me, and pushed me to do better.

One man (I don't know his name because he attended one meeting and then I never saw him again) said, "I think there's more to this story, and if you're brave enough you'll tell it."

Holy crap!  How could a stranger see right through me like that?

So I emptied my heart onto the page, brought to the forefront all my moments of hope and despair, and wrote it out in detail for all the world to see...

...and reject.

We had nothing before us...

Four members of the library group broke off into a smaller group.  Week by week, they helped me dissect the labyrinthian plot of Desiderata.

But something bugged me.  I felt I should be working on The Drownings instead.  I felt it was more marketable.

So, halfway through the year, I set Desiderata  aside and started over with the other.

It felt like I was going nowhere fast...

We were all going direct to Heaven...

Like many other writers I slogged through many weekly meetings, beta readings, querying, and (brace yourself) rejections. 

Some were generic rejections, a few questioned whether it was YA vs. adult (again, before the New Adult craze).  Then one really awesome agent requested a full, but rejected with very specific comments.  This led me to cut a full character and 4,000 words.  Even though this agent didn't take me on as a client, I feel I owe her a great deal of thanks, because she set me on a path of drastic changes and improvements to the MS. 

I doubled the initial research I'd done on witchcraft.  Every spell deepened, every relationship reexamined and fleshed out, and every conversation polished until How to Date Dead Guys was born anew.

And this spring, I've had more requests than I thought possible.  It's been both quite exciting...

We were all going direct the other way...

...and quite ulcerogenic.

There's a part of me that frets about the very real possibility that each and every request may end sadly.  I've committed myself to making the spring and summer of 2013 my "big push" for How to Date Dead Guys.

But what happens when the summer ends?

I haven't yet decided.

In the meantime, I finally revised Desiderata to the point where I think it's ready, but I haven't done much except enter it in one contest that only took YA, not NA.  And I know it's frowned upon to query more than one MS at a time.

At first, I intended to write a blog about how to deal with rejection...but I'm not sure I have anything better to say than:
1) find a coping mechanism (for me: walking the dogs, running, yoga, a wine cooler, whatever works for me that day)
2) send off another query ASAP
3) work on something else

But there's this nagging voice in my head saying, "If this one doesn't work, then it's time to write another MS."

And I'm not sure I have one in me at the moment.

But if I do start another MS right now, it's going to be called Teeth.
Isn't that a beautiful title?  Now let me see you smile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Starting a blog caused me to discover google images.  My life will never be the same.
No, I didn't write any of the following.  Instead I'd like to provide a running commentary.

Oh boy, this is me.  Not so sure about the "real writer" part--
at least until I hold a book with my name on it in my hot little hands. 
But I don't give a damn what others say. 
It's possible that sometimes I should.

Call me crazy, but I truly thought one of my CPs made this one up. 
My heart is broken now, because if he did Tom Clancy stole it from him.
Update:  my CP traced it back to Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens)

I'm a small person who gave birth to two good-sized babies. 
Unless I want trouble, I can't put pottying off.

Is it a bad sign that rejections don't break my heart like they used to?
I'm not sure a thick skin helps one get published, but it comes in useful from time to time.

I'm a sucker for anything C.S. Lewis ever said.
His Narnia series kept me company as a lonely, only child.
I'm forever grateful.
And I still long to meet Aslan.

Monday, June 17, 2013


For some reason, whenever my characters need to drive somewhere I draw...things...out way...too...long.  I don't mean to, but even during emergency situations I suddenly make them have some major conversation as they stand outside the car doors with the keys in their hands.

In a current WIP entitled Possession, I think my characters did this FIVE times--pretty much every time they got in the car.  To be fair, this was only just a first draft modified by one quick revision before my CPs saw it. 

It happened so often in the story that it became a critique group joke.  We've now coined the phrase "get in the car and go" to apply to anything (writing related or otherwise) that needs to speed things up a bit.

Little Red Corvette, baby you're much too slow at getting into the car

So what's my writing tip of the day?

Recognize your hang ups and try to curb them.  Now I make sure it doesn't take me five pages for my characters to "get in the car and go".

But also try to have a sense of humor about your failings and'll never be perfect.  There's always room to grow.

Perfect people are boring, anyway...right?

I'm perfect and everyone wants my hair

Sunday, June 16, 2013


The timeless popularity of The Dukes of Hazzard TV show provides a most excellent example of how the "suspension of disbelief" is an essential element of storytelling.  From 1979 to 1985, viewers waited eagerly to watch as, week after week, the Dukes escaped from yet another sticky situation.  The premise of all three cousins (Bo, Luke, and the beautiful Daisy) each having a separate set of dead parents, leading them to come and live with Uncle Jesse, really doesn't make much sense.  But it was accepted anyway, just because the show was so much fun.

Here's a few other stretches of the imagination that the audience willingly believed.

Myth #1:  It's easy to run in high heels.

Let's face it, Daisy Duke was pretty amazing.  She could trick any bad guy with a bat of her pretty eyes, knew way more about cars than I ever will, and drove even better than them Duke boys--even Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane thought so.  One time, as he chased who he thought were the Duke boys (but it was Daisy in disguise), he said, "It seems the Duke boys are driving a little better than usual." 

One of the best lines in the show EVER.

And, if the rumors are true, she even made her own clothes.  :.)

Myth #2:  There are so many farm activities which require jeans but no shirt.

Seriously, this show used any opportunity to show off these guys' chests.  But who can blame them?  The eye candy was a big part of the show.  But when you think about it--if you're so friggin hot chopping wood that you have to take off your shirt, why are you wearing jeans?  Apparently the Duke boys were too poor to own any shorts...

...I guess Uncle Jesse used all their extra money to buy himself that nice robe.  :.)

Myth #3:  Cars can fly.


And this, folks, is why people watched the show.  It used to be that exciting movies always had one car chase scene in them.  But The Dukes of Hazzard gave you that every single week.  In fact, The Dukes often had more than one car chase, car crash, or big jump per show.

The fast-paced show raced along at the speed of a car chase.  The likeable, attractive characters had you rooting for them every time.  Instead of lengthy dialogue, the punch lines came flying at you from left and right.  The show ended with a bang and a smile, and always left you wanting more.

This is what it means to please the audience, to be a success, to leave people waiting anxiously for your next episode...or book, to make this relevant to us writers.

Some folks make fun of this show, but I think we've all got something to learn from the...

BTW, my kids would totally dig this set.  Anybody know where I could find one?

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Again, I'm pushing the edge of what's a writing rule vs. a life rule.  But if you strongly believe that writing is life, then they are one and the same.

I've got five rules I encourage you to follow:
1) Get enough sleep
2) Eat right
3) Exercise
4) Love yourself
5) Love others

Now you'll think I'm trying to be some cross between your doctor and your priest, but trust me when I tell you all these rules make sense and are for your own benefit.  These rules will make you happier and more productive as a writer.  (Note I'm promising productive, not successful--that's between you and Lady Luck, I'm afraid.  And I'm not her.)

Also, I must admit that I fail at these rules all the time--some more than others.


I confess to everyone reading that I suck at this rule.  I'm a "burn the candle at the both ends" kind of girl.  Or, since I'm a medical woman, perhaps I should say I'm a "squeeze the adrenals from both ends" kind of person.

A lack of sleep makes me crabby, less efficient, and just plain tired.  I need to get better at this on a consistent basis, not just when I'm exhausted from only getting 5-6 hours a night for a week.  Now maybe that's enough for some, but it's not enough for me!

Don't worry.  I'm not going to hype up one of the latest eating fads.  I'm old enough to remember when carbs were our savior, and now they're the devil. 

I don't need to tell you exactly how to eat--we're all adults here, right?  More or less?  Just eat right.  That's all I'm going to say to you.


I know I already harped on you during Mile 11 that the benefits of exercise are too numerous to count.  So just put away your computer, get out of your chair, and go outside and play!  (After you finish reading this first, of course...)

This isn't always easy, except for the egotistical (you know who you are).  I don't care what anyone else has told you, if what they said was mean.  Who cares what their opinion is?  I'm writing this blog, not them, so listen up.  I'm here to tell you that you matter.  You belong.  You're important.  It's up to you to figure out why and where and what you're meant to do.  But be kind to yourself, even if others are not.  And if your friends are mean to you, then get yourself some better friends.  The same thing goes if your girlfriend or boyfriend is mean to you.  DUMP THEM!  There is somebody better out there, just waiting for you.  Maybe it will take awhile to find them.  Maybe it will take years.  Maybe, God forbid, you never find them--is it really better to stay with someone who tears you down instead of building you up?  NO!  It's not.  So cut away the bad parts of your life, like you'd cut away the bad parts of an apple.  Do it now.  I mean it.

See?  This puppy loves you!

And love yourself, even when the rejections come in (and they will--unless you're Stephanie Meyer, of course-haha).

Whether you're religious or not, this is still a good thing.  Volunteer, help the elderly cross the road, or just plain be nice to the checkout girl at the grocery store.  They're people, too.  With feelings.  Don't ruin their day. 
Just be a good boy or girl. 
Play nice, why don't you?

And remember (I'll borrow the wisdom of the Desiderata poem again):
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful.
Strive to be happy.

Friday, June 14, 2013


After vet school, my life fell into a slump.  Despite the job shadowing, internships, and four years spent slaving away to earn my degree, I wondered if I'd chosen the wrong career.

My whole point in going on to grad school was to have a job I liked doing each day for the rest of my life, but that's so much easier said than done.

My first two jobs didn't work out.  Then I spent about a year doing relief work, filling in at short staffed clinics.  One dark and lonely night I drove home after work, flipping through radio channels.  A story about the Smiley Face Murder Theory caught my attention. 

Two retired New York City detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, proposed that the drowning deaths of 40 or more inebriated male college students weren't accidental, but something much more menacing.
The detectives theorized that these young men were all murdered, either by an individual or an organized group of killers, and then their bodies were dumped into nearby rivers to remove evidence. 

The name Smiley Face Murder Theory was adopted when the detectives discovered graffiti depicting a smiley face near locations where they believed the bodies were dumped.

The program made me wonder:

How did all those drunk guys get in the river in the first place?  Wasn't anybody watching over them?  I'd spent many a college night babysitting a fellow classmate (or three).  Then a thought occured to me--what if someone had been babysitting and a guy drowned anyway?  What would the survivor do?  Would they come forward?  Or hide, feeling so guilty it destroyed them?

And a story idea emerged.

A college girl crushes on a cute college boy at a University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire keg party.  (Nothing unusual about that!)  When he decides to swim the Chippewa River, she tags along, planning to babysit.  Just as they reach the other side, he disappears.

I spent the rest of the drive pondering what the poor girl would do.  She'd blame herself, of course.  Other people would blame her, too--especially the rest of the victim's family. 

Left alone and desperate in her sorrow, she would make a rash decision to perform the impossible. 

She'd try to bring him back.

And so began my interest in writing about witchcraft.

Not every witch is wicked, you know...

(As a side note, the idea for this book began over a dozen years ago.  I wrote a chapter and forgot it in a folder somewhere.  Then I took it out, rewrote it, began a book.  When I thought I was ready, I queried.  I wasn't ready.  Stopped querying.  Joined writing group.  Formed critique group.  Enlisted beta readers.  Began blog.  And so on and so forth...)

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Thanks to the folks at "Aussie Owned and Read" ( for hosting this contest.

Manuscript Title:  How to Date Dead Guys
Author:  Ann M. Noser
Age group:  NA
Genre:  urban fantasy
Word count:  93,000
250 word blurb:

The Chippewa River in Eau Claire, Wisc.
How to Date Dead Guys Query

College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts.  

When Mike Carlson's family blames her for his drowning, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, Emma lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts her spell:

“Oh moon, upon me shine—

Give back his life, instead take mine.

Send back his heart, return his breath.

Please release him from his death…”

The river rages up to claim her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a young man drags himself from the water and follows her home.

But it’s not Mike. Instead, Emma brings back other drowning victims from the dead: Sam, a pre-med student who jumped from the bridge; Steve, a young father determined to solve his own murder; and Jake, a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. As she delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows, her powers grow. But the river is stronger, reclaiming Sam and ripping Jake away just as her heart finally wakes up. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma uses her newfound talents to help the others, not realizing that every time she casts a spell, she places herself in danger.

Emma is a cross between Whoopi Goldberg’s psychic in Ghost and Willow’s transformation from bookworm to witch in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders theory, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS should appeal to paranormal fans of all ages.


Yes, hormones.  And now I must apologize to all the erotica folk out there, because I don't mean those kind of hormones...I mean the type of hormones which come after...Oh, just keep reading and you'll see what I mean.

Your assignment today is to read this poem.  Yes, I'm forcing you.  Don't worry.  I didn't write it.  But I did highlight my favorite parts (like a high school girl would).  Now read it before I get ornery.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
© Max Ehrmann 1927

I'm not sure whether Max Ehrmann would approve, but ever since I began my "first" novel (we're not going to talk about that embarrassing one I wrote back in high school), my dream title has been Desiderata.  I even quote "the world is full of trickery" on the cover page. 

If I'm so inspired by Mr. Ehrmann, I suppose my book should contain poetry.  Instead it's a fairy tale--in three parts.  The first book is written and (I think) ready to query...but I just got a few new beta reader offers, so I'm taking them up on it.  I may kick myself later, but that's okay--I've been working on my flexibility.  The second book is written but needs heavy revisions.  The third only has an outline and a few initial chapters done. 

And now...why I wrote it...

When I was pregnant with my firstborn, a son, I didn't think of myself as a writer.  I hadn't written much since college (except for some not-so-nice cartoons in vet school where I made fun of things that bugged me and one poem called Histo Hell about the Histology class I struggled in).  Soon after his birth, two college friends planned a visit.  That morning, one of them called saying her child had come down with something her doctor thought maybe was or maybe wasn't the chicken pox.

Aggressive maternal instinct set in.  "Don't you come near my son!" I growled into the phone.  Now I'm sure I was more polite than that, but my complete refusal to see her shocked both of us.  Overnight my oxytocin had transformed me into a mother bear. 

I'd never acted or felt like that before.  I spent many hours of my maternity leave pondering the abrupt change in my psyche as I pushed my son in the stroller, trying to shed my hulkish form.  (Let me give you some advice:  don't gain 50 pounds when you're 5'2" and pregnant.  It's not fun at all.)  Hormones swirled and surged.  I began to fantasize about danger lurking behind every corner.

Obviously I needed some way of dealing with these feelings, and then letting them go.  To keep my sanity, I required a coping mechanism.

It came in the form of a story, a fairy tale of somewhere far away and a long, long time ago...

Bieze artwork and dream cover of Book Two

A medicine woman who lived in a cave encountered the son she no longer remembered as her own.  As she struggled to save his life, a possession she pulled from his pocket tugged on her long lost memories.

But that scene isn't even in the first book.  It doesn't happen until halfway into the second.  So I had to build the world up to this revelation. 

I knew a mother would endure anything to protect her son from danger, especially if the threat was in her own home.  And so, poor Maria Leon, how I've made you suffer.  (I totally blame the hormones.)

If I ever finish writing the third book, brave Maria will finally get her just rewards.  (Sort of cruel to make her wait that long, I suppose...)

The question is:  do your hormones make you write?  And, if so, it is publishable?  (wink, wink)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


This is definitely going to be my new question at writing get togethers.  I'm not going to ask WHAT other people are writing, but WHY.  I'm sure to hear "I want to be the next Stephanie Meyer!"  But that's okay.  Everybody's gotta have a dream.

But I write for love.  My apologies to all the romance folks out there, but I mean love of sport.  Just for fun, allow me to compare my running with a romance novel.  I'll admit to having a mostly one-sided crush with running.  To be honest, the sport has been a very fickle lover in return.  Like a true heroine, I'm still hoping for a happy ending--which to me means total domination of the 80-plus age bracket at races when I still have a ponytail, except it's grey.

My love for running, reciprocated or not, is why I write articles about the sport.

Running Articles
Man, I love running.  I've loved it ever since I stopped hating it, but hating it came first.  All through high school I hated it.  With a passion.  Called Cross Country "hell in a bucket".

Then I went to college and got TOTALLY STRESSED OUT.  The only thing that calmed me down was running along Lakeshore Path at Univ. of Wisc. Madison. 

Then I dropped out.  But that's another story...

"Wait a minute.  I thought you said you were a veterinarian?"  Let me explain.  I only dropped out for a weekend and switched schools.  My Dad panicked at the thought of me not attending college, even for a semester.  But, SERIOUSLY, someday I'm going to write a non-writing post on figuring out what you want to do before you get to college.  Job shadow, people!  Sheesh!  Otherwise it's all just a waste of time.

So many topics I care about.  So little time to waste.  Better hurry.

I write running articles because:
1) I love running
2) Running doesn't necessarily love me back
3) I hate injuries
4) Injuries love to spend a lot of time with me
5) I want to help others not get hurt like I did running in college
6) I want to inspire other people to run to raise money for cancer research and other noble causes

These ideas seem pretty basic.  I wish I was more exciting tonight.  But I'm sweating a ton because it's so hot and humid out.  And I feel guilty because I slacked on running due to fear of overheating.  So, tonight I also write about running out of guilt.

I was raised Catholic, after all.  Guilt is in my nature. 

More on guilt later...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


A tip a day to keep the rejections away

Do you write to let the demons out or the dreams in? 

Have you scribbled stories on scraps of paper even before you could write out words? 

Or were you the class bookworm, excited for summer vacation because it meant you could read whatever you wanted all day long for three endless months?

Maybe all of those reasons apply, or maybe none.  The reasons I write vary greatly, depending on what I'm writing.

Why I Write Veterinary Articles
One day at work, a nice family came in totally frustrated with a cat which hadn't used the litter box properly for years. 

At first they'd asked their Great Aunt Bertha, cat lady extraordinaire, what to do.  She insisted that spraying the litter box with perfume would do the trick.  (It didn't because cats don't typically like scent.) 

So they asked their Cousin Bubba, who had a soft spot for cats and a filthy house.  He assured them that the one litter box in his house of four cats only had to be scooped once every two weeks and his cats liked it just fine.  (They didn't.  His house smelled so much from bad food he just didn't notice the pee.) 

Two years after the problem started, they finally asked me if anything could be done.  I did my best to help, but explained that since it had become habit during that extended timeframe, it would be so much harder to fix. 

After the appointment, I commented to a coworker something like this:  "I wish people would ask a veterinarian first.  Someone who knows what they're doing really needs to instruct every cat owner the proper maintenance of a litter box.  It would solve so many problems."

That 'someone' became me.

Within the month I began writing for the local newspaper, determined that I could make a difference.  I've heard that I have, and I hope it's true.

You can google "pet vet" and "Post Bulletin" if you'd like to see more. 

**Great Aunt Bertha and Cousin Bubba are fictitious characters I'm using to make a point.  The rest of the story is true.**

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A tip a day to keep rejections away

Honestly, I considered leaving this blog empty except for that ecard, because it's so awesome.  And concise.

Seriously, there are a million and one websites out there each striving to tell you how to write the perfect query, and each one says something different.  Each one means well and can teach you something, but "not one size fits all", as they say.

You haven't been doing this long enough yet if you haven't realized the following truth:

It's true. Every single agent out there wants something different, and who can blame them? I mean, doesn't everyone want something different out of life?

I guess half of America wants Brad Pitt, but I say:

"No way, give me Edward Norton,

Or Andy Garcia,

Or Robert Downey, Jr."

But I digress...

So...back to writing queries. Yes, you can read all over the Internet about the right ways and the wrong ways, but the more you read the more you realize that querying is a bit of a crap shoot.  Sure, there are things you can do to improve the odds, and I'll get to them eventually, but in the end it's still subjective.

Here's what can help:  investigate the agent you're querying. 

Pay attention, this is important.
First, establish the fact that they 1) are currently taking queries, and 2) represent your genre.  Once you've established this, then try to figure out what THEY want in a query. 

Here are places to check:
1) their Twitter feed
2) their blog, if they have one
3) their agency website - and here's a tip for the wary:  sometimes what the individual agent wants is DIFFERENT from what you will find on the general submissions page for the rest of the agency
4) do a Internet search with their name followed by "literary agent" to find any recent interviews

But sometimes you can't find anything.  Then you have to decide:  in this day and age, if this agent doesn't have anything anywhere as far as an Internet presence, is this the agent you want?

If the answer is still "yes", then just guess the best you can about the query format and submission pages.

Typically, the standard query format has three sections. 

Section one starts with a formal heading, followed by a short paragraph detailing your genre, word count, and why you chose this agent to query. 

The sole purpose of the second section is to "hook" the agent to request your book.  Make it as interesting as the back cover of a book.

Finally, the last section should detail what writing experience you've had in the past.  Again, there are different opinions on this, but I include my nonfiction experience even with fiction queries because it's still published material, no matter the genre. 

Don't forget to sign off politely, thanking the agent for their time and be sure to leave all your contact info.

But before you get ahead of yourself, just consider for a moment... are you really ready?

Don't be like me and query too early, and waste both your time and that of those agents before your MS is truly ready.  I'll admit I was a fool the first time around and queried long before I joined a writing group, or knew what beta readers were, or did a was/were search.  Stupid, ignorant me.

Learn from my mistakes.  Do all your "homework" first.  You're in no rush to get rejections.