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Sunday Hat – My Pararom Nemesis

OK, I’ve been going on and on and on about my pararom and how much I suck at it, love it, hate it, flat characters, unruly ideas, you name it for like Evah, so I got an idea – a wonderful-awful idea (The Grinch is my favorite movie. I almost named my daughter Cindy-Lu-who but my Web Admin said ‘No’ – true story).

My idea: I’ll post the first pages here and my friends will tell me when they stopped reading. Where do I lose you? What’s wrong with this piece? I’m open to thoughts and ideas from fellow writers, readers and anyone willing to leave a comment. I will be pitching this at the conference in less than 2 weeks, so please advise if I should fake something contagious and bow out. LOL *COUGH!*


 

OK, that’s what I’m giving out. I can’t wait to hear what you think because I’ve looked at it long enough to have a stroke. I got nothing.

Win a Free Edit From CA Marshall!!!

Well, it’s Saturday morning and I am all hopes and prayers! You see, the amazing CA Marshall has created a contest where the winner will receive a full manuscript edit by her, and I WANT IT! CA also known as Cassandra has a BA in Professional Writing and an MA in Creative Writing. She is a freelance editor, aspiring author, and a literary agent intern.  I mean, who else would you want to edit your manuscript?? I’ve been following this contest for about two weeks and I am absolutely dying to win!

For your chance at this awesome prize, visit her website CA Marshall, then scroll down about three posts until you see it. She has everything you need to enter right there, including the rules, scoring, and and a tally sheet. With only 2 days left to go, my advice is…GET MOVING!

Meanwhile, you will find me here chewing my nails and praying. PLEASE! I WANNA WIN!!

Good Luck!

Canton Writers Guild Dinner & Winner LOL!

My First Award for Writing!

I’m a little pleased with myself this morning. I can’t really help that. Last night was my first event with my local writers guild. It was the annual dinner held at our  Womens Club, and it was lovely.

Back in July I sent in a short non-fiction story to be entered into a contest for the guild. A professor at Kent State University was judging, and last night, I discovered that I had placed in the contest. I received a beautiful framed  award for second place, an award of merit. I’ve never won anything for writing before and I had no idea that non-fiction was my deal. (Not that it is, but I did something right on this particular one anyway). So, I’m feeling a little humbled and thankful today because acknowledgements like these help to keep me moving forward in a business where it can be ..emmm…discouraging some days.  I’m placing the opening page below  and adding the full text into my Novel Excerpts page in case anyone can’t get enough reading about environmental law or the failures of our governing systems in protecting my family. LOL. Enjoy!


Living in a Gas Station

By Julie Lindsey

All across America, small, independent fuel stations have closed their doors. As a result, hundreds of abandoned properties pepper the landscape. Interstates and massive oil conglomerates have radically changed the face of our countryside, particularly in the Midwest.

In the great state of Ohio, on a scenic rural road, one family is feeling the burden of those changes. The Lindsey family is currently living on the site of a former gas station. The long gone Sherman Church Variety Store is now home to Bryan Lindsey, his wife Julie, and their three small children. For years, Bryan had no idea that he owned a contaminated property.

When the variety store closed its doors more than two decades back, four underground gas tanks were left behind. In 1991, the owner operator, Kenneth Walter had the tanks removed. The removal revealed a dangerous truth. An excessive amount of benzene, a component of gasoline, was found in the soil.  One of the older storage tanks had been damaged and was leaking. Mr. Walter did not clean up the property. Instead, he put it on the market a few years later.

The half acre property was sold for an unusually good price. Bryan Lindsey, then only 19 years old, purchased it from Mr. Walter in 1996. Lindsey thought that he had landed an investment, recognizing the utterly unique opportunity to remodel the building.  The Sherman Church Variety Store contained more than 1800 square feet of space. Lindsey began to renovate.

With the help of his father and two brothers, Lindsey turned the crumbling cinder block building into an inviting new home with an intriguing link to the local community. The renovation took more than 5 years and in 2002, Lindsey and his new wife moved in. Their years of sweat equity had really paid off, or so they believed.

Following the birth of the Lindseys’ first son, letters began to arrive addressed to the variety store. The return address was an environmental cleanup company. This was how the Lindseys learned the ugly truth. Their property, along with so many like it, was contaminated and abandoned. Cleanup was estimated in the six figure range, and benzene was a known carcinogen.

***The entire story, about 1300 words, is available in the novel excerpts tab.

Thanks for looking!

Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW) Conference or Bust

Well, there’s a ginormous orange circle on my family’s calendar and it is getting closer. In two short weeks I will be attending my very first and hopefully not even close to my last writers conference. It is the COFW or Central Ohio Fiction Writer’s Conference and it will be held in Columbus, Ohio on the first weekend in October!

Attending this conference is sort of like a turning point in my writing endeavor, to me it symbolizes something real, something more than just a hobby, even though doing something for zero cash inflow and no one else cares about it is actually the definition of a hobby. Being there will solidify something, I think, or maybe I will be severely deflated afterwards, it’s hard to say, but at this moment, in my mind, it is a huge deal and a good thing that I’m going.

I don’t actually have any writer friends that I haven’t met online, so I am dragging my husband along. The conference takes place in the hotel where we are staying, and he will be enjoying the peace and quiet of no work and no kids all weekend, then meet me for drinks each night in the hotel bar. This is where I hope to show him off and mingle with the attendees. The hotel has cable and WiFi, so hubby is taking a day off to support his wife and her lofty dreams. I love that guy.

During the conference, which I didn’t realize at the time I registered- is actually a division of the Romance Writers of America and a romance writer I am not, I will be attending several workshops, meeting authors, both aspiring and published, and cohorting with agents and editors as well. I even have a pitch session scheduled with Cori Deyoe, a literary agent from Three Seas Lit.

It’s an incredible opportunity for me. Who knows what could happen there? I am guaranteed to learn something with all that knowledge and information in one place, osmosis alone will ensure that much. Plus, I will make some new girlfriends, cause let’s face it, I don’t know a stranger, and writers love to make new writer friends, plus I may get the attention of someone who will help move my career out of the hobby phase. I’m going with an open mind and a heart full of hopes and prayers. I feel so lucky!

If you have the opportunity to attend a writers conference, especially if you are feeling a little deflated about your own writing journey, I think a conference is the answer. You are guaranteed to get new information, support, and meet others who are in your boat as well as those who were and who broke past the gatekeeper. You may meet some gatekeepers too :) I wish you could all come with me!

Meanwhile, I have 2 weeks to pull together my pararom which is giving me fits since I wrote it a year ago and left it in a file marked “eh.” That’s where I put my stuff that just doesn’t rock my face. I feel inadequate to write a romance on any level beyond YA, so I let it alone for a long time. Then, realizing this was a RWA conference, I had to put my current projects aside and find something I could pitch. So, I’ve been working on this for a long time. I’ll keep you posted, and possibly post the opening pages here in the future. I didn’t even list it with my novel excerpts because it was “eh.” However, I must say that I am getting excited about it. CJ Redwine helped me give it punch and give my MC a personality boost. I think its got potential, but I’m terrified to present a romance. I can’t really explain why.

Well, that’s all, I’m going to a conference, you should too. I’ll tell you everything as soon as I return and I’m sure that I’ll post more the week that I am headed out.

Anyone attended a writers conference? Would you recommend? What was your experience? Did you pitch? Meet other agents during the mingling? Make new besties forever or writing partners? Pleas, dish!

Please Welcome C.J. Redwine !!!!

Welcome CJ Redwine

Today is a super fun Writer Wednesday for me because today I am hosting the ultra cool, mega-fun, C.J. Redwine! *Clapping & jumping & Wooting ensues!* CJ Redwine does it all, and with a smile. She writes snarky pararom (my nemesis- pararom, not CJ), she is a wife, a mother, a blogger, a teacher, and everything else, plus, I think a fortune teller and mind reader.

I met C.J while wrestling with a query, to which  I now have an agent *please bow, CJ, as I curtsy to you*. She also taught a workshop on how to write a killer synopsis and another on plotting and pacing. I took all three. Yep. I was so happy with the first that I just kept registering. I also met some very fun writers in those courses, one of which I still keep in touch with! Erin? Are you reading?? LOL During my plotting workshop I had an hour long chat with CJ wherein we discussed my pararom and she asked everything that had never crossed my mind. She made suggestion that I love and half the book landed in the gerbils cage (*GO GREEN! *Also I don’t really have a gerbil). So, what I’m saying is, she’s brilliant. CJ has an incredible insight for writing, which is a great gift, and she shares. She’s busy, but still makes time, and this interview is a wonderful example of that.

If you haven’t met her yet, you must. She’s an asset in your writing arsenal, and who can’t use one more girlfriend? You can read about CJ on her blog The Last Word. You should definitely follow her on twitter @cjredwine, and check out her workshops here.

OK, are you ready? Please welcome…..CJ Redwine!!!

C.J., Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview with me. I have enjoyed you so much these past few months and hate to think that there are still writers out there who haven’t yet met you. *Imagine* *Oof* So, let’s see, I always want to know about when writers came into the bug. How long have you been writing? Was writing always your passion?

I spent most of my childhood with my nose stuck in a book. My mom brought my sister and I to the large public library in our city once a week and imposed a strict 20 book limit on me. I gobbled up all 20 and eagerly returned for more. In second grade, we were given the assignment to write a short story. I believe the teacher asked for a page. I turned in four pages, front and back, and realized the words I found so magical between the covers of a book could come from my own head as well. I’ve been writing ever since.

That’s amazing! I was way older (over 30, actually). So, when did you first decide to try to get your manuscript published? What was that attempt like for you?

I’d dreamed of having a book published for YEARS, but between having three boys (who routinely try to kill both themselves and the ENTIRE STATE OF TENNESEE on a regular basis) and a job, I kept telling myself there wasn’t time. I thought life had to line up perfectly before my creative juices would flow again, and I could actually craft something as scary and time-consuming as a novel.

In 2004, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and everything changed for me. Once I was finished fighting cancer, I realized that life is a tenuous thing and there are no guarantees. I decided my dreams wouldn’t wait for life to line up perfectly and I sat down and started writing.

My first attempt at a novel was a 140k monstrosity that showed glimpses of what I would one day be capable of doing but was, in all honesty, mostly useful for lining a cat box. I didn’t know that, though. I was so proud of myself for finishing an actual book! I sent it out to an editor at every major publishing house (thank God I knew enough to only send a query and not the entire manuscript!) and one agent. All of them graciously turned me down, but one volunteered to take another look if I edited it down to 95k.

I figured taking out 45k would ruin the story, but gave it a shot. Turns out I was the Queen of the Long, Convoluted Sentence. *polishes crown* The lessons I learned about craft and about my own emerging style by revising that never-going-to-see-the-light-of-day manuscript were invaluable.

I personally removed about 30 pages single spaced of the word “that.” I understand bloat in a very intimate way. LOL. Tell us about that blessed call when you finally landed your agent!

I was nervous! What if one of the boys burst into the office screaming that his brother had just shoved him into a toilet? What if the cat decided to hork a fur ball onto my lap at a crucial moment? What if I lost my head and started babbling about how AWESOME I thought she was and started sounding desperate?

Thankfully, none of the above happened. Instead, it was a fabulous conversation where Holly and I discussed my novel, my career goals, her communication style, what we both expected from a working relationship, and a list of other things I’d had the excellent foresight to write down in case I forgot what I wanted to say. (Other than “Holy Cow, I adore you!”)

I finished the call calmly, hung up, and then shrieked to my hubby that I had an agent. He was nearly as excited as I was!

What happened next?

Well, first our family went to a Japanese Hibachi Grill that night to celebrate. :)

Then, Holly sent me some revision notes and I went to work polishing up the manuscript for submission. And I kept trying on the words “I have an agent” until one day they finally felt like they fit.

How has it affected your life at home?

My hubby is one of the most supportive guys around so he’s always made it possible for me to take my writing seriously, even before I had an agent. He simply continues to support my efforts (days of leaving him in charge while I settle into the corner of my local bookstore to write, me staying up late to finish a scene etc) while asking excellent questions to try to understand the business side of publishing.

Having a support system makes all the difference, Kiss your hubby for all of us women writers who are applauding him from our couches right now. What’s your newest project CJ? What can we get our hands on next??

Hm. Well, the project on Holly’s desk right now is CASTING STONES. It’s the story what happens when impulsive, perpetual screw-up Lilli pretends to be a qualified private investigator and discovers secrets about her sexy new boss that could drag them both into hell. Literally. It’s very Supernatural meets I Love Lucy.

But my newest project is a YA that tells the story of rebellious, feisty Abbie who seems to lose her mind on her sixteenth birthday and is committed to a run-down privately owned asylum where nothing is what it seems and the secrets buried in the walls could cost Abbie her life.

LOVE it!! I am smiling over here just reading that summary. I want it. If you ever need an ARC reader ehem, I’m just saying… What was the best advice that you have received about writing professionally?

Wow. I’ve received a lot of excellent advice, so it’s hard to choose! I’ll have to pick three things. 1. Finish a book. Commit to an idea and see it through. 2. Be professional in your web presence. Keep the rants to a minimum and don’t slam others in your profession. Publishing is a small world. 3. Keep your eyes on your own test paper. Every writer’s career looks different and comparison can kill your spirit.

Thank you! Any final thoughts or words of wisdom for the struggling writers out there?

Keep writing. When you hit a snag in your WIP, keep writing. When you read an incredible book and worry you’ll never write half as well, keep writing. When you get a slew of rejections, sit your butt down and keep writing. Action combats insecurity and depression, so keep writing. :)

Well, I hate to say goodbye to you, but I suppose I must. I can’t wait to see the comments roll in. I’ve asked everything I am dying to know, but there is more out there. Can’t wait to read responses. Thanks again for the interview and *all hugs and prayers* for your next project. Fully serious about the ARC copy ;) Take care!

OK, feel free to comment below! Make time to follow CJ on twitter and check our her fabulous blog. She’s absolutely amazing and I hope that you are all inspired now! I am pulling on my boxing gloves and dragging that pesky pararom of mine back onto the table. I can do it!!


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