Feedback on Website….

Hey all!

I changed the look of my site over the break and was wondering what you all thought.

Is it more readable?  More user-friendly?  What do you like about it?  What don’t you like about it?  Anything I could change?

Thanks in advance!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Calling all AtoZMom Subscribers & Readers!!! This Blog Needs Your Input!!

Hey all!

I believe God has put upon my heart to grow this forum and reach more for Him.

Some of you may have noticed a few changes.  Lissette Trahan was added as a contributor with her amazing, God-inspired poetry.  I’ve started a Saturday Snippet column with sage words of advice.

Now I’m wondering what’s next?

So I’m asking you, my amazing and gifted readers and subscribers what would you like to see?  Guest authors?  More contributors?  A different area of ministry?  Affiliate groups with book suggestions?  Some kind of event postings?  An advertising forum for your business?  Some kind of question and answers feedback on the lessons or any area of spirituality you are struggling with?

These are just some ideas I’m having.  I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, ideas, suggestions for this site.

I would also like to invite feedback on how this site is doing.  Helping?  Hurting?  What can I do better?  What am I doing right?  Wrong?  Lay it all out!

You can either leave me a comment below or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

Any ideas are appreciated!  This is your blog as much as mine, and I want to serve you!  I look forward to hearing from you all.

God bless and have a blessed and merry weekend!

Advice on Query Letter

Hey all,

Below is my query letter for my newly-completed New Adult Novel.  Any advice and improvements would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Dear Agent,

When nineteen-year-old American college student Suzie Smith overhears a plot to blow up a building in London, her fun-filled year abroad now becomes a race against time to discover the details and stop the bombing. The main problem: one of the bombers is her boyfriend, Edward Long.

Convinced her unassuming, gentle boyfriend could not possibly be involved, Suzie pushes the knowledge out of her mind, chalking it up to the exorbitant amount of alcohol she has been consuming lately. Until the talk continues and escalates. She learns the building is none other than the Palaces of Westminster and the bombing is happening soon—less than a fortnight.

She reports what little she knows to the police who promptly dismiss her as a naive American—except for one hard-nosed Irishman, Inspector Reilly. However, he is unable to convince his bosses without more information, which he presses Suzie to learn.

Overwhelmed, Suzie decides her best strategy is to spend as much time as possible with Edward in hopes he’ll open up to her.  Along the way, Suzie has the time of her life, traveling to Paris and Scotland.  And Suzie does learn more—she learns she’s falling in love with Edward.

As the line between real and not real becomes blurred, can Suzie choose? If she betrays Edward, he may die. If she keeps her mouth shut, scores will die. How will she choose? And when she does, what will it cost her?

This is a contemporary new-adult novel and the first in a planned series. It is complete at 82,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

End Note:  Character names have been changed and details in paragraph four and the title omitted.  Also, any technical advice as well would be greatly appreciated such as are the stakes clearly shown?  Would you ask to see pages?  Why or why not?  Anything else you all see that I’m too close to see?

P.S.  For those non-writers out there, a query letter is the first step into landing a literary agent who sells your work to publishers.  It’s a critical component in getting published.

I Never Thought I’d Say This But…

I like editing.

I used to hate it.  Despise it.  Curse it.

Now, it’s a challenge to me.  To make my writing better.  To find the awkward wordings and sentences.  To tighten up my story.  To eliminate repetition.  To make my story the best it can possibly be in hopes of landing an agent and getting published.

What Keeps Me Going...
What Keeps Me Going…

I’ve set an unofficial deadline for myself of June 1st to finish this novel and begin querying. It’s finished. But I’m not sure if I’ll be done editing it by then.

But it’ll be close.  Very, very close.

Oops!  Shouldn’t use the word ‘very’ now should I?

I Can’t Quit (Even Though I’d Like To)…

I was in the middle of my second novel re-write when I got a critique back from a writing contest I had entered.  The critique was bad.  I was missing an “inciting incident” (which I had to look up. It’s the central conflict of the story and the moment the main character is forced to act and we learn what he or she wants the most).  The plot and dialogue were shakey to put it nicely.  But my novel “has a ton of potential” and “could be interesting”.

Seriously?

So I immediately stopped work on it and thought what else I could do with my life instead.  Read my books instead of kids books.  Teach (didn’t get that job either).  Or piddle-paddle around through life.  I was depressed about it to say the least and ready to quit altogether.

Finally, I realized while swimming the other day that God keeps closing doors He doesn’t want me to go down, but this writing door remains open.

While searching the Internet aimlessly (something I’m wont to do when I’m feeling down in the dumps), I read articles on writing.  One article said that a writer is someone who can’t quit writing.  Someone who feels compelled to write no matter the amount of rejection or the lack of success.  Someone who can’t do anything else but write.

That’s how I feel.  Something inside of me is still pushing me to write even though I don’t want to.  I can’t kill it.  It’s a desire that’s there and won’t go away.

Sigh.

So I guess I’ll keep writing (not that I have a choice about it).  And maybe some day this novel that will enter its third (and God-willing final) re-write will go somewhere.  That’s my prayer at least. While the door is still open…

My Ideal Life…

So school (and hence my job) has been on a two-week break.  It’s been nice (after I recovered from my nasty illness).  I’ve spent the days cleaning my house, visiting family and friends, reading books both to my kids and to myself and my gym membership started on January 1st so I went to the pool, which was awesome!

I also have been querying my just completed YA contemporary novel (this is where you try to find a literary agent in order to sell your work to a publisher).  To be quite honest, I am holding out no hope really of landing one.  But I do it anyways so then I can move on to my next book, which I think I will return to non-fiction which was the first book I wrote about 7 years ago when I was called to this “career”.

Me Reading City of Bones
Me Reading City of Bones

One of the books I read was City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  I saw the movie version and liked it, so of course I grabbed the book since it’s in one of my favorite genres to write (YA paranormal).

I liked the book (except for the ending) and would recommend it if you like that stuff, but it was depressing to read for the simple fact it made me jealous–jealous because I don’t think I can write that good of a book.  It made me want to start writing another YA paranormal almost instantly–until I thought I have no inspiration at the moment.

After reading City of Bones, I believe my current novel to be utter crap and won’t go anywhere like the rest of the books I’ve written.

So now what?  Well, I pray.  Pray for my book.  Pray I write something that will impact someone somewhere.  Pray someone will believe in that dream with me as well–enough to get me published.  Pray I do God’s work and not my own.

So why is this my ideal life?  Because I got to read a book!  I haven’t read a book outside of kids books since Killing Jesus (and that took me almost 3 months to finish)!

I got to do what I wanted to do (for the most part), which is sit around and read books.  No kids activities to run to.  No guitar lessons to make.  No job I had to get up for…

Still, there is something deep inside of me that craves more.  It craves this book (whatever that will be).  It craves it more than a pregnant woman would ice cream.  And the restlessness inside of me never goes away until I have it…

Am I a Freak?

Lately, I have been wondering how others spend their time.  Then I think on how I spend my time…

In the mornings, I get up.  I frequently work out.  Then I do my bible study.  I check the news on the Internet.  Do miscellaneous things that demand my attention like laundry or dishes or pay the bills.  Pray…

Then I work on my novel.

I labor over this thing like it’s a work of art.  I just spent an hour and a half today editing 2 pages, agonizing over word choices, looking up definition and synonyms, until I deem it perfect before I move on.  Frequently, I return to the same passage the next day and re-read it just to make sure.

I ask myself Why? and wonder what others do with their spare time.  I think of what else I could be doing.  Reading adult books instead of kids books.  Cleaning.  Cooking.  Planning something or other that I’m sure needs to be planned.

My neighbors watch TV every morning.  I see it on through their blinds.

Then I think No, there is nothing else I want to be doing than this.

Frequently, I feel selfish about it especially when my husband is home.

But I have this hope, this deep desire within that one day soon I will be published.  One day I will go to Barnes and Noble and buy my own book.  One day soon I can call myself a “writer” instead of a “blogger”.

And it is this that drives me.  That keeps getting me up at God-awful hours of the morning.  That tires me out and I go to bed early.

And that embraces the term “freak”.  For if that be what I am, then why not?

We all probably have something we are a freak about.  So what’s your thing?  And how do you spend your precious spare hours?

What Keeps Me Going….

My novel is going painfully slow…

All I want is to be done.  To throw in the towel and say “it’s not worth it”.  To wash my hands and give it to God.

Most days I have an inkling of this.

For I only get 2-3 pages edited in one sitting, which is usually 2-3 hours long.

It sucks.

No sugar coating that.

And then I get to a scene in my novel that takes my breath away.

That has a life on its own…and I certainly am unsure how that happened.

And I say to myself, “This is what keeps me going…”

For I know if it impacts me, it will impact you and hopefully more so since I know it’s all make-believe.  For the most part.

Putting your heart and soul into words and on paper is never easy.  In fact, I would say it’s one of the hardest tasks man does.

Yet the reward is unfathomable.

And I can only dream you will one day think so as well…

It is a Compulsion that I CANNOT Quench…

…this thing called writing.

It just won’t go away no matter how much I try.

Yet this same compulsion causes me so much agony.

Because I see no results.

My works languish like a worn out farm tractor sitting in a field.

Relegated to word documents that sit on my computer.  Filed away on some hard drive never to be seen.

I pray, “God direct me.  Use me.  Use this gift.”

And I feel no answer.

It frustrates me.

I’m not getting any younger.

I feel called to something more, something great even, but it never comes.

Or it’s too slow in coming.

“God’s timing.”

Yep, got it.  Doesn’t help me much though.

My YA paranormal is going nowhere.  Discouraging.

I’ve basically given up on the thing.

“Who am I?”

Not Tim Tebow.  Jenny McCarthy.  Bill Clinton.  Sarah Palin.  Or anyone else famous who has written a book.

Started a new novel this morning.

Well, not new.  It’s a resurrected idea that I plan to completely re-write.

For I can only write what I know.  What I have learned.  What I think others NEED to know before they learn it the hard way like I did.

And tears are shed…

Still, my heart remains heavy.  No relief.  Just anxiety…

I feel lost right now.  Debating about taking unpaid work (being a columnist again) just to satisfy this yearning deep within…

Debating a lot of things I could do.  Trying to come up with new ideas.

Yet my dream remains the same.

There must be room for me.  Hundreds of books are published every year.  I have a niche…

Somewhere…

For everyone has a story to tell.

I just wish (and pray) I could pinpoint mine.

When I’m Rich and Famous, I am SO Hiring a Professional Editor…

What I’m Dreaming Of…

I just spent 2 hours editing a grand total of 2 of my novel pages.

With every edit I tell myself this is the last one.  Then I convince myself to do one more reading…

Always my downfall.

So “this is my last reading.”  Was supposed to be quick.  Supposed to be…

Exasperation reigns right now.

I now know why every author thanks their editor on the “Thank You” page of their book.

And as soon as I get a novel published, I’m hiring one.

Because this stuff should DEFINITELY be left to the professionals…