Friday, December 28, 2012

Five Years

Five years ago today I married the most wonderful woman in the world.  While I have the misfortune of having to nurse her to health on our anniversary, I still love her and cherish the opportunity to show her every single day!

When we got married, both of us were very different.  She was half way through her first year as a teacher, and I was struggling to write a book while pretending to go to college (though I kept a 4.0 while in classes!).

Five years later, she's a great teacher with tons of confidence and a lot of success helping students advance in their education!  And I threw out that book I was writing, but not before learning a LOT about how to write a book, how to pitch a book, and how to move forward no matter what.

So today I just want to say: I love you, Emily, and every single day is an absolute treasure to be with you!

(Sorry to all my other readers who may find this sappy.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Plans That Die with a Cough

My wife's family is here for one more evening, and we had planned to go out to The Hobbit.  A movie I haven't seen yet, and one I've been excited to go to.  We were going to go to that great theater in town that serves food and beer.  It was going to be fun.

And then The Wifey woke up with a sore throat.  And it got worse through the day.  Eventually, all three of us had to gang up on her and insist we stay home.  She pouted.  I think she's still pouting.  But she has tea with honey, and a warm blanket, and a husband who will take care of her.

So tonight is a night in.  Just relaxing without any real plans.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve!

My wife's family is here for Christmas Eve!  We're doing Christmas with everyone tomorrow: Roast Lamb with sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and lots of other good stuff.  Which brings me back.  Way back.

*Harp Music Plays*

Cold egg nog, hot chocolate, the aroma of baking pie, sweet potatoes with the tiny marshmallows on top, all waft through the house.  The grandparents smile down on my brothers, cousins, and myself.  We have gifts in front of us, but I have to wait.  We open them one at a time, youngest to oldest.  And I'm the oldest child.

But I don't mind.  We're all excited, and I expect a new video game for my SNES.  And I have egg nog.  Grandma just brought out the hot apple cider, and wreath cookies (made from frosted flakes, green-dyed marshmallows, and red-hots) adorn the fancy cookie tray.  I reach for one while my little brother opens some present or another.

Life is great, and memories of more Christmases flood my mind.  I'm excited for the years to come.

And I'm Hungry!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Fun

I'm going to celebrate a four day weekend with my family.  It's going to be epic.  We're going to have great food, good times, and tasty beer.

I hope all of you have a great weekend.  I'll post something Christmas-y on Christmas Eve.  See you then!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Un)Healthy Obsession

For some time now, I've talked about my new hobby: home brewing beer.  It has been brought to my attention recently (and I spent an entire day reflecting on the thought) that I've become obsessed.

To give a little background, OCD runs in my family.  Chances are, I'll never develop OCD, but knowing that it runs in my family opened my eyes to to a very simple fact: whenever I get an idea in my head, I OBSESS over it until it's either resolved or I find something bigger, better, or easier.  When I remain focused on my writing, the obsessions are held at bay.  For the most part.  And this is because writing is my biggest passion.  It's what I want to do with my life.  It's easy to turn that obsession into drive to move forward with my career.

But as I said on Monday, the news in my writing career isn't turning out as "planned."  A day spent thinking about my writing, listening to writing and publishing podcasts, rather than the brewing podcast that's consumed most of my time for the last seven or eight months, has really shown me both how far I've come, and how far I have to go.  And it made me realize why I've been obsessing over my new hobby.  I need a distraction.

Over the past three and a half years (since I started querying my first project), I've learned how to take rejection without taking it personally.  As a writer with mild self-esteem, I like and seek validation for the hard work I do, and it takes a lot of time to learn how to accept rejection as something that's part of the business, not a personal attack.  But now and then, the frustration of doing the same thing over and over again with the same result (crazy right?!?) wears at me.  So rather than spending my non-writing time thinking about writing, I've been spending it thinking about beer.  Brewing beer, cooking with beer, trying to find new beers to drink.

And as many of my regular readers may have noticed, my blog is suffering as a result.  The rest of my writing is thriving like never before!  But without thinking about writing, the publishing world, or the changes that keep sweeping through our little universe, I've run out of things to say.

It's time for that to change.  I'm going to ease off on the beer obsession (though I'm not giving up this wonderful hobby!), and I'm going to do more research into the book industry, try to keep up to date with other writers, and THINK about writing.  Even when it hurts.

If you've made it this far in this post, thank you for letting me get this off of my chest.  I love writing, and I love every minute of the process, even the rejections!  But like anyone working toward career advancement, roadblocks can get discouraging.  They don't cripple me, or even make me want to give up, but sometimes I lose sight of the big picture.

And that's why we have hobbies.  But not obsessions!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Careful Decisions

In any area of life, there are times where careful decisions must be made.  They can't be made quickly or lightly, and sometimes it's foolish to even discuss it in a public forum.  Over the last few months, I've had several of those decisions that I've had to make.  And one of those decisions is still up in the air (so I won't be discussing it here).

A lot of people have talked about what not to discuss on one's blog.  And as a general rule, I try not to talk about the querying process because it's so easy to give the wrong impression on a blog.  If, for example, I mention every time I receive a rejection, I could easily come across as a whiner, a bitter writer, and maybe (depending on how I discuss it) a rude young man who "thinks he's smarter than the industry."  The fact of the matter is, if I query an agent, I'd be thrilled to work with them.  And when they reject my work, I can't take it personally or take out any frustration on them, in any medium.

But now that I've set my book aside, I feel a little more comfortable discussing the process.  IN A POSITIVE LIGHT!

You see, after receiving so many rejections that I lost track, I took a final look at my book.  I made several very big changes to the manuscript, gave one final push to see if it would attract the attention of agents, and came to the conclusion that something about my manuscript (NOT the agents' taste, opinions, etc.) is off.  That's a tough decision to make, and not one I make lightly.  I love my book, and I could picture myself purchasing this book if someone else wrote it and had it published.

But agents know a lot that I do not.  Both about the industry in general and the market my book is geared toward.  And I genuinely respect their opinions.  If I didn't I wouldn't query them.  (And, as a matter of fact, there are a few out there with whom I don't agree, and I won't query them.  BUT I WON'T BAD MOUTH THEM, EITHER!)  Since "industry insiders" currently don't see a market for my book, I've decided to set it aside.  At least for now.  As I said, there is another decision that's still up in the air, and it is in regards to this book, but I won't discuss it for many moons.

Why would I make this decision?  For one, I understand that many many books have received hundreds or thousands of rejections before getting that coveted "Yes!"  And I am confident in my book.  But because of my day job, I don't have a lot of time to work on my writing.  Whether it's pitching one manuscript or writing another, I have to pick.  And I usually only have enough time to do one or the other.

I have a project that I'm working on now, and I love it.  The other book isn't going anywhere, so I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.  A good friend of mine told me that he's thrown out more than a dozen manuscripts because he "knew" they just wouldn't sell.  I don't know if mine won't sell, but at the moment, I'm spending too much time trying to push it into a market that's not really open to it.  So my final, carefully considered decision is to move to the next project.

And then I'll return to the world of querying, send out letters to agents who may be interested, and repeat the process as often as necessary. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Beer, Beer, BEER!

To regular readers, I'm sure it's no surprise that I like beer.  I brew beer, I drink beer, and I cook with beer.  It's better than wine for getting unique, broad (or narrow) profiles of flavor.  And it's cheaper, too!

That's not to say beer is "cheap."  High quality craft beer can start as low as $8 a six-pack.  And that's not to say Coors or Bud are "bad," it's all about preference.  And I've found GREAT beer that cost upwards of $15 for a single 750 ml bottle.

Now to my point: I'm making chili tomorrow with BEER!  I've never done this before, and I'm tired of the flavor whiskey gives my chili.  I always improvise my chili recipe, and that'll continue until I find a recipe I really like.  But I'm starting with Guinness Black Lager.  I'm not sure how it'll taste, but I'm excited.

Hopefully, I'll get to brew again soon.  And one of these days I'm going to actually sit down and tell all of you about my brew day.

Have a great couple of days.  See you Friday!  :D

Monday, December 10, 2012

End-of-year Goals

Let's be honest, sometimes goals that we as people set are unrealistic.  But that's not a bad thing.  Not always.  It gives us something to strive for, and even if we only make it part of the way there, often enough, that's farther than we would have made it if we hadn't set a goal to begin with.

Looking back on the biggest goal I had for this year, it's easy to say that it simply won't happen.  Not because of laziness or failure, but because my big goal was to have an agent by the end of the year.  Those of you familiar with the publishing world know that that's something I, as a writer, have very little control over.  And since the consensus of opinion is that, while my book is a great concept, it's just not something that works in this current market.  I haven't given up on this book, but for now, I realize my energy is better focused on the NEXT book.  That WiP that I've been making real progress on!

So my goal to reach by the end of the year?  Finish the first draft.  It's a tall order, seeing as how I'm just a little over half way through the outline, but if I push, I think I can get close.  And close is better than not at all :).

What about you?  Any goals that you want to push for by the end of 2012?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Grilled Cheese with Jelly

I know, it sounds about as weird as hotdogs with peanut sauce, but I swear, it's one of the best comfort foods OF ALL TIME!

I'm not talking about a Monte Cristo, either.  Though those are great.  This is just a simple sandwich made from two pieces of bread, lightly buttered, with a couple of slices of your favorite cheese.  Once it's grilled up, nice and gooey, get your favorite jelly, jam, or preserves (mine is raspberry preserves, with the seeds still in it!), and cover the top of the sandwich.

Believe it or not, it's still great with tomato soup.

Oh, and if you have a quirky character that needs an odd food to eat in a book you're writing, feel free to make them eat that!  :D

Happy Friday, have a great weekend.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Charity of the Month: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

To be perfectly honest, I'd planned on making this the charity of the month back in the summer (I can't remember which month).  I love this charity, even though the stories that come from the organization warm my heart and break my heart at the same time.

Life expectancy for blood-born cancer patients has increased drastically as a result of this organization, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Please click on the link to the right, donate a few dollars, and help extend the lives of cancer patients around the world.