Author: JamieKate
•8:25 PM
I have come here...well, firstly, actually, to gush to you all my immense gratitude and blushy-ness about just how awesome it is that DL Hammons gave me the Silver Lining award on his blog. Whoa. WHOA. My blog has an award. I have an award! Thank you, DL! I am so happy you are one of my few followers and that you appreciate the blog.

Which brings me to my next lesson. And confession. My confession is this: I have not written all weekend. Defamation, shock, alarm. If you gasped and tsk-tsked me right now, you'd have a right. I'd like to say other things got in the way and that life is too busy, but they didn't, and it wasn't. I just...didn't write. I thought about it. I thought about my ideas for scenes. I thought about my own advice and how crucial it is to always write to keep up momentum. Buuuttt....I apparently thought catching up on American Idol was more important.

But that was only the confession. Are you ready for the lesson? Okay. Here it comes.

I forgive myself. Oh, wait, that's a lie. Hold on....yep. Okay. Now I forgive myself. Because people need breaks, too. You should write a lot. You should think about writing a lot (at least if you want to take writing seriously and aren't just doing it for a hobby). But if you don't - and, for that matter, if you don't do anything you were 'supposed' to do - the best and most productive thing to do is forgive yourself. 

I didn't write this weekend. Under normal circumstances, I might beat myself up: Oh, Jamie. You didn't write again. You want to be published, don't you? You want to be a success and outrun/outwrite all those people who ever had a fleeting thought that you weren't good/serious enough, don't you? You're going to fail if you don't write. What a failure. What a loser. 

Normally. For days. Until finally I'd muster up the courage to put the pen to paper (or the fingers to the keys)...but by then, I'd have beaten myself up so much that it wouldn't even feel like an accomplishment. It's just what I should have been doing all along, right? 

Well. Maybe. But perhaps I just needed a break. Perhaps this is me storing up all the potential energy so that, when I finally write, all the kinetic energy will burst and flow across the page into a masterpiece of prose and imagery and symbolism and...awesomeness. It could be an excuse, but I don't think so.

Just as no fumble or slip is too large, no accomplishment is too small. My blog got an award. Holy moley. It's not a big huge one, of course (Sorry, DL, but you aren't Nobel, you're just an awesome guy with an awesome blog), but I can still check it off my Metaphorical List of Accomplishments. 

What did you accomplish today? Did you write 1000 words? What about 500? 50? Okay! Good for you! Holy crap, you did something! Sometimes it's hard to even eke out those few words, so, if it was, treasure them. Don't belittle them. They might even need work (no one does anything perfectly immediately, after all), but you still wrote them. You got them down, and they'll be there forever, barring any massive fire or hard drive failure (which would suck. I'm sorry if that happens. Please check your smoke detectors and virus protection). 

Any small accomplishment is worth holding up and examining. You can even take out your accomplishments and polish them once in a while to make sure they shine. "Oh yeah, I did write that whole novel. Some people don't ever get to do that, and I did. Wow. I'm cool." or even "I wrote that scene just how I would have liked. I should be proud of myself."

Writing is tough stuff. So sometimes, you have to treasure the little stuff. Like blog awards. 
Author: JamieKate
•3:36 PM
You're all going to cheer and shout from the rooftops. I may have some doubts about the writing, but I have done it. Not only did I finish that stupid problem scene, but I powered through the very important scene following! I may not think it's the best writing in the universe, but I did it, and so I'm forcing myself to be proud (even as my inner editor is yelling at me to find newer and better ways to structure my sentences).

Lesson? Write. Even if you don't want to. Even if you think it sucks afterwards. Because you know what? It's better than the opposite (not writing, in case you didn't get that). At least you have a product if you write. At least you're working towards your goal. Even if you have to delete every last word of what you wrote (which, unless the writing is gibberish, I don't suggest), you still did something. You moved forward instead of standing still. You plunged into the frigid water instead of frowning and shivering along the shore. Even if you only dipped in your toes, it's okay.

Writing is really hard. Even as I create a new character and wonder if I'm painting a certain part of him accurately and have no one to ask, I have to soldier on. Things can be changed and rewritten. Things can't appear on the page through brain osmosis. Though that would be super cool. But we aren't quite there yet, technologically. So we have to scribble and type our way to success. You and me. Together. Let's go. Motivation. You're awesome and talented. No one could write your ideas like you could. We're gonna sell our novels by the thousand (or even the dozen, that'd be okay too) and worm our way into the biz.

But first, before any of that, we have to write.
Author: JamieKate
•7:34 PM
Yes. We've made it. It's Day 4 at New England College, and I am still living, if a little worn down from many mishaps. In the past few days, I have misread my class schedule (leading me to accidentally skip a class), driven back home for an appointment with my therapist (right in between two classes, and you know I was panicking about being late the entire time), been locked out of my room (when really I just don't know how to work the lock yet), met at least 20 new people who all expect me to remember their names (do you know how many girls are named Kate in this world?!), and have left my car window open for 16 hours of rain (and it takes 15 minutes to walk to the parking lot from my dorm. In the mud. Uphill).

So. Yes. I've made it. But I'm hoping for some sense of equilibrium soon.

On the writing front...there is not much to say. I have this idea for a story. And I'm not sure where I want to begin it. So my brain's solution to this is to just...not write. It occurs to me on a minute-ly basis. "I could start writing that book." But nope. I tell myself the idea is too similar to my other book. It's been done. I'm not good enough to pull something like that off.

When, really...who cares? Just write the damn thing.

You know, what am I talking to you guys for? I mean, you're nice. Very nice. Look at all of you! Shining examples of humanity.

Okay, I'm procrastinating. But I'm complimenting you in the process, so it's okay, right?

I'm gonna try to write now. I'll report my progress later.

...Here I go. Gonna write my next book.

We'll see.
Author: JamieKate
•10:08 PM
So I'm going to cease the writing discussion that has ruled this blog for many centuries (or, you know, months) and talk about my real life. If you do not care about my real life, you can stop reading now. But I promise I'll insert as many witty comments as possible.

Today I moved in to my new dorm at my new college. And it was while unpacking (and not before) that I realized I knew no one on campus. Uhh. Wow.

I say "wow" for two reasons. First: I didn't realize I would be completely alone until unpacking. Which is sad in itself. I guess I was just trying to block out thoughts of the scary future. Second: HOLY CRAP I HAVE NO FRIENDS.

I, Jamie, will have to make it on my own, and coerce these random people into finding me agreeable enough to hang out with all on my own. Yeah. I know. Daunting and sad. Mostly because I'd rather curl up in my room and write than venture out into the real world and talk to people. And because my humor shrivels to nothing in the actual company of other people because they frighten me so much. People are FRIGHTENING. Have you noticed this? I have. They all have their own judgments and opinions floating around in their heads, just waiting to pounce on your every tiny flaw and misstep. And most of them don't even like historical fiction. Or at least not the college aged ones that I'm going to have to approach.

Scary, freaky stuff.

I will persevere, though. It will be okay. I can make friends in classes. But all these people, though they have been kind so far, are very intimidating with their inside jokes and their...talking. I wish I could just imprint my personality on peoples' minds so I could know up front whether or not they'd like to be my friend and we could skip the whole me-being-nervous-because-you-might-not-like-me thing.

Shh. Jamie. Stop panicking. You can do this. Just charm them with all your...charm. And...charm.

Author: JamieKate
•2:03 PM
My post today, since I have been so tirelessly working on my manuscript and querying lately in preparation for my imminent return to college, concerns publishing. Well, that's a large topic, Jamie - how do you believe you're going to tackle it? Well, I'll tell you.

Publishing is a monster. It's huge. It devours entire people and spits them out as either major successes, minor successes, or failures without the blink of an eye. Daily. But the problem with the big Publishing Monster is that the people who don't willingly involve themselves in its literary ranks know nothing about it. Well, they know it exists. But they believe that it is soft and cuddly and willing to gather just any wide-eyed hopeful into its big, over-reaching arms. And this, my friends, as most or some of you will know, is simply not true.

I have written two novels. Well, two novels and one novel which I believed to be a novella when I wrote it in my poor little sophomore year of high school that actually turned out to round up to about 50,000 words. But, crushed adolescent egos aside, I have written two full-length books. I tell this to people sometimes, when it comes up in conversation, and the reactions I receive differ very little.

"I've written two books."
"Wow. And you're only nineteen?"
"Huh. Have they been published?"

And this conversation chips away at my poor little heart each time it happens. These people believe that you can just walk into a publishing house, say "I want to be published," and it will happen. No. There is a strict hierarchy in place, one that takes tireless effort and heartbreak to plunder. You can knock on a publishing house's door all you like. They are likely to politely tell you that this is not the way publishing works before just-as-politely escorting you out the door and laughing as soon as you leave.

I have accomplished something in writing these books and receiving my meager partial queries. In learning all that I have, too. Sometimes this is hard to remember when I'm looking over a particularly shoddy passage in my book and thinking I should give up, or when I tell my parents I've received another partial request and I only get a "What? Oh, that's nice, honey," or when I'm talking to a publishing ignoramus who underestimates my seriousness in becoming published. But I am a sophomore in college, and I have accomplished something. And I will keep accomplishing things until I have had a partial/full request, got THE CALL of representation, edited my work extensively, waited through the grueling submission process, and got THE CALL of my book having been sold. Maybe even a cal about a multiple book deal (but optimism like that is hard to have).

For everyone out there trying to get published, I salute you. If your dream is true and passionate, and you work hard to make yourself the best writer you can be (and you follow submission guidelines), you will be published. You can do it. I can't promise you how well your book will be received, or if the market for your book will pay off, but once you've done all the work you can, it's out of your hands. I have faith in you.

Let's go battle the monster together.
Author: JamieKate
•9:34 PM
I mean, wow wow wow! Welcome, new followers, one and all. And may I say, I don't know you, but I love you. Already. I can just feel how wonderful and kind you all are. And you all like to read what I have to say for some skewed reason or another, and that also makes me love you. Congratulations!

I think I should write about queries more often. Just saying.

So, today, I started writing my new novel. And here's a little bit of advice for starting a new novel: don't go weeks without writing before doing it. I know, I know, it's naughty not to write for so many days at once. But I did it. I was editing, I was Christmasing, I was...playing Sims. Okay, I was putting it off. I didn't want Ingenue to be done. But it is now done, and in spite of the last few polishing touches, I have to move on with my life. Ingenue, my baby, my whole life for seven months, is dead. I've got to start dating new babies. I mean. Er, novels. Creepy. I probably shouldn't write that...but you will probably laugh at it. Please laugh at it. I don't date babies.

MY POINT: It is extremely hard to start writing again after having taken such a long writing vacation. Inertia and all that, you know. Every sentence, since my brain is still in editing mode, was something for my brain to nit-pick. Was that the right word? No. I should stop and think about the right word. What could express that idea better? And, in writing, true writing, you just can't do that. Well, you can, but your book would seem pretty stilted. Words don't flow if every one of them has been second guessed. Sometimes, the creative monster in your head is right. Just let it out. Let it express itself on paper without curtailing anything it has to say. It could be the best stuff since Gaiman, or it could be utter poo. But either way, you'll have let your Muse play itself out, and that, my friends, is better than a slow, bumpy ride. Mixed metaphors and mediocre attention span aside, I hold that the lesson stands firm.

Write always. Write stuff you hate. You can always transform it into stuff you love later.

That is all the wisdom this 19 year old has to offer tonight, followers new and old. I hope everyone's day has been a wonderful one!
Author: JamieKate
•9:58 PM
Okay, so I figured that if anyone was reading this blog and wanted insight into how I'm getting along with my current query letter (be quiet, you know you're at the edge of your seat), I'd help them on out with that. 

My problem is with my synopsis, not any of the other parts, so I'll only be posting that here. I'm having difficulty conveying the themes of my book while still inciting any anticipation or excitement about the plot. Blah. Well, here are my drafts. Enjoy.

Draft the First:
Marriage is not a choice in 1850's England. Or, it isn't for Victoria Calwell. Her father, the Marquis of Malmsbury, is forcing her into an advantageous marriage to suit his need for social standing. She is left not only divided from her all-too-devoted best friend, Leonard Allen, but trapped for the rest of her life with the Duke of Winchester, whose idea of marital satisfaction is absolute obedience. Her only light in the darkness is her new stepson, Gregory, who, thanks to the duke's numerous defunct marriages, is ten years Victoria's senior and devoted to keeping her safe.

As Leonard realizes the seriousness of Victoria's attachment to Gregory, and Victoria in turn realizes just how harsh her new husband can be, the two begin to wonder if they can ever be happy again.

Fine, right? Not great, but fine. It gets the point across. But there's no excitement to it. It doesn't make you go, "Oh yeah, I'd love to read that! I want to know what happens next!"

So then I tried a slightly different approach.

Draft the Second:
Victoria Calwell is not the marrying kind. Rather, she’s the kind to get drunk and raucous and not care about society’s opinions. But marriage is inevitable for all beautiful, wealthy girls in 1850’s England, especially ones born to socially-obsessed fathers. He forces her into marriage with the ancient and lecherous Duke of Winchester, and both she and her best friend Leonard (whose unrequited love has led him to tail behind her for years) are devastated.

For a girl who has used her behavior to escape all her life, her immediate goal is to get out of the marriage by any means. That is, until she meets her new stepson, Gregory, ten years her senior and devoted to keeping her safe from the duke’s violent tendencies. His sad life and meek nature draw her to remain in the debilitating marriage, despite Leonard’s concern for both her safety and her loyalty to him.

And there's where I gave up. I don't know. Some of the wordings are weird, and it's just...again, there's no real excitement. It sounds like an encyclopedia entry. "This happened, then this happened. Aren't you excited. Please buy my book, plzkthx."

Draft the Third:

Everyone in London society is in love with Victoria Calwell. Some love her just because they need someone to ridicule, and some love her because they enjoy watching her brazen and often intoxicated antics at parties. But men love her, in their different ways, for different reasons. Her best friend Leonard admires her tenacity and empathy. The Duke of Winchester finds her impudence a challenge, as if she were a horse to tame. And his son, Gregory, finds that she is the only person he can talk to without fidgeting or stuttering.

Each man wants to possess her in his own way. The Duke, of course, wins her hand in marriage through social connivance with her father. But marriage contracts are not everything, especially to a woman whose conscience in regards to public opinion is nonexistent. 

And this is my current draft. I'm unsure about this one, only because everything is happening to Victoria, and she doesn't seem like the awesome go-getter she is. I don't know. Maybe I'll tweak it and make it work somehow.

If anyone has any thoughts on how I could make any of these more awesome, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you.

EDIT: No matter how many times I try, I can't get the whacka-doo spacing and coloring from Word to look pretty and neat like I want it to, so please dismiss any formatting errors. 
Author: JamieKate
•10:49 PM
I was on Twitter today. I know, right? Shocking. And I was reading through all the little tweets about everyone's lives and I stumbled across a link. A literary agent (I'm not sure what liabilities or accusations would arise if I named this agent, so I'll refrain) posted this.

If you're too lazy to read it (trust me, I wouldn't blame you) it's a Very Important Person telling all the young adults of the world to not enter into graduate school for the humanities (art, literature, history...anything basically useless) because it'll be a waste of time. The link, to me, was a challenge. "What?" said I. "I am planning on doing just that, Mr. Man, and I challenge you to dissuade me from my definite impasse of a goal in life."

The problem was (and is) that he met the challenge. He met it very well. He put the fear of Ph.D's and MFA's into my sad little head. But there was one thing that, in this Very Important Person's wisdom, he did not do. He did not tell me what the hell to do instead.

"Oh, by the way, that dream you had of becoming a professor and maybe still having time to write? Not gonna happen."
"Yes, but...what else can I do?"
"Oh, I don't know. Begging and prostitution are always good options. You just can't do what you want to."

Thank you, Mr. Man. For crushing my dreams. In case my lofty, implausible goal of becoming a best-selling novelist (ahem) doesn't work out, I'll consider your words.

*mutters and contemplates the dim, lonely future*
Author: JamieKate
•5:08 PM
Since this blog is supposed to be about writing and not me whining about how I can't write (ahem, self), I figured I'd give you a few short tips of things I've learned in my short but eventful career as a not-yet-published author.

What authority do I have to give anyone advice? That's another story entirely. But I have a whole lifetime to prove to you my success. So I might as well start acting like I'm famous now, right?....Right?

Shut up, you.


1. Let the words of dialogue speak for themselves. Adverbs and descriptions of dialogue only hamper the rhythm of speech in most cases and distract from the scene. If you really feel that something isn't coming across, add to it, but only in special cases. Otherwise, you'll look like an amateur, and amateurs are generally frowned upon. In general. Not specifically, maybe, but in general. Yes.

2. Write for yourself; that is the only way your passion will shine through in your writing. As Kurt Vonnegut said, "Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia." And you want your story nice and healthy, using no tissues and keeping away from the Literary Hospital. Yes, it exists. Trust me, my poor stories have had to visit a number of times.

3. Character, in my opinion, is the most important thing. Not how pretty the things the character is looking at are, not the Big Event that changes the character's life. If the reader doesn't like the character, she'll have no one to route for, and if she really doesn't like them, she won't want to stick around unless there's a chance the character will be dead soon. So make your characters likable. How do you do that? Well, what do you like in a person? Make them be that. Smush characteristics and flaws together to make a quirky, fun character who forgets to water her plants, or a lovable meiser who salsa dances on the weekends. Characters = love. You visit a place again and again for the people in it, not the view or the stuff you do. Or, at least, I do. I might just be a freak, though.

Those are three quick tips to consider in writing. A quick disclaimer, though: those are my opinions, garnered from my experience. Some writers may disagree and scream at me and make effigies in my name because of how wrong they think I am (that was a joke, by the way - I've found writers, on the whole, to be a quite affable bunch). Take the advice given with a grain of salt, because I might not be right.
Author: JamieKate
•5:19 PM
You can always spot a solitary childhood reader if you talk with them. You’re having a wonderful conversation with them, plodding along, getting to know one another, when suddenly, they’ll come out with something like, “Oh, I hate celebrities these days. They always look so amassiated.”

You pause. You think, I’ve never heard that word before. I must be dumb. Or maybe I misheard, I’d like to not think I’m dumb. “They look what?”

“Amassiated. You know. Skinny, like they haven’t eaten.”

Oh. Emaciated! Then why did they say it funny? 

I recall, when I was younger, I had an extensive vocabulary I was always afraid to use, mostly because sometimes I would find out a word I had been pronouncing one way my whole existence was meant to be pronounced completely different. Like, for instance, monastery. MAHN-ah-stayr-ee. Right? Wrong. To me, it was “moh-NASS-turr-ee.” Emphasis on the middle syllable (and on the ignorance).

Another example. A pedophile is a gross adult who is attracted to children and shouldn’t be allowed to be around playgrounds. Yes. We have that settled. But lil ol’ Jamie, in her wee years, had never heard it said without “a” in front of it, so she thought the whole phrase was one word: apedophile. Which, now, with my knowledge of Latin prefixes, I know means the opposite of a pedophile (a person who is reviled by children, perhaps? Or a child who is only attracted to adults?). Either way, I was wrong.

I read when I was younger. Books were replacements of friends. (I now know, also, that this was caused by acute Social Anxiety disorder, but that’s another blog post for another time.) But books, while they were awesome friends on the whole, do not have many skills of rapport. I couldn’t say something to them and get either confirmation or denial of my stupidity in saying something a certain way. So I never learned. And when I finally read the word “monastery” aloud one day in my junior year of high school (yup, it took that long) my teacher had to stop me.

“Uh. Jamie. It’s MAHN-ah-stayr-ee.”

“What? No, it’s not.”

A few giggles from the class, and a glare from my teacher. “Yes, it is. MAHN-ah-stare-ee.”

Did you need a lesson on how to spot a child who had books instead of friends? I doubt it. But you’ve now had one all the same.

Jamie, out.
Author: JamieKate
•9:14 PM
I'm getting pretty sick of my book. Well, that's a lie. I still like it. But I've read it a LOT recently. And I'd rather be doing other things, like writing a new book, or being magically put into print by someone who plucks me from obscurity and into the literary heavens. I'm revising. I'm 1/3 of the way done - I've read all the way through my book, fixed typos and awkward sentences, and now I have to add scenes I think need to be put in. After that, I will reread the book once again, checking for typos and awkward sentences, and then, finally, I will decree the deed finished.

Then it'll be time to start querying again. We'll see how that goes.

But I have a feeling this one will be published. I just...know it. I can feel it. I have the skills and the know-how, the ambition, and the star quality. I will make it happen. And I've got to do it before the commodity of my youth wears off. <---joke. Kinda.
Author: JamieKate
•10:52 PM
I just deluged my music library with new music (Thanks iTunes gift cards!). One of the songs I bought on a whim based on the 30 second preview afforded me was a song called "Lullaby for my Favorite Insomniac" by the Ahn Trio. I bought it because it was very pretty and calming, and I'm always looking for music to write different types of scenes to. (If you haven't heard it and you would like to, you can listen to it here.)

During my first time actually listening to it, I noticed something odd. Or, not really odd, but just out of the ordinary, we'll say. About a minute and forty-five seconds into the song, a man starts whispering. And so far, from my limited experience with the song, he doesn't seem to be saying anything determinable. He may or may not be speaking English; it might be complete gibberish for all I know.

My interest piqued, I searched online for info on whether or not this was on purpose or if it was a live recording and some stupid guy had just been talking during the performance. But the effect was real and intentional. And in the various places I looked, there were different reactions. One true insomniac said he listened to it and thought it was like the constant, recurring worries and thoughts that plagued him when he couldn't sleep. Another said it was like a calming parent telling a child a bedtime story. Yet another person thought it was just noise, meant to be like percussion in the background - there was no meaning to it.

I didn't think any of those things. While in danger of revealing my true hopeless romantic nature, I admit that I listened to it, closed my eyes, and pictured my future husband (whoever and wherever he is) just reviewing his day with me. Telling me his likes and dislikes and the little events that he thought to tell me earlier as we wait for sleep to overtake us. Idealized and sad, isn't it, in a way?

But this got me to thinking about how so much in life is subjective. These people all heard exactly the same song and had completely different reactions to it. And thinking about how, no matter what I write, there will be someone who doesn't like it. Someone will think it is too dark, someone won't like the ending, someone will find it beautiful and touching, someone will find an historical inaccuracy. I shouldn't worry about pleasing everybody with my writing, because it's pointless and absurd. Even though I'd like to.

Ah, my pointless thoughts. Please, don't let me keep you.