Category Archives: Writing

Persistence Has Its Rewards

I’ve written five books, plus a sixth that’s mostly done. Three of those books were queried over the course of four years. After all that work, time, and patience I’m excited to say I’ve been offered and accepted literary representation!

Fellow writers: If you want something, keeping trying. Believe me, I know it’s so discouraging at times and so tempting to just give up and think you aren’t good enough.

DON’T GIVE UP!

Keep working, trying, and learning. Be patient. Persist. Be willing to make changes and do something different. I believe in you!

New Year, New Stuff To Do…

Here’s how my 2016 went, as far as my writing goals were concerned:

  • I did a major revision on The Believer, changing it from YA to MG. I needed to cut about 20k words. I got it down by 11k, and I’m in the process of another revision to improve the voice and reduce the word count even more.
  • I did a minor revision on Time Guardian, but I’m still getting the same feedback on the opening pages…that they just aren’t doing the job. I’m still not sure how to fix that, so it’s on the shelf for now.
  • I did query Messy, got a few bites, but not takers yet.
  • I actually participated in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. My goal was to get a good start on a new MG sci-fi I’ve been thinking of, not to get 50k words. I achieved what I set out to do and wrote about 15k words in November. A nice start!

What I’d like to do this year:

  • I need to query SOMETHING (pretty much anything) more. Most of my stuff probably needs work before doing that, but I have lots of options so that shouldn’t be a problem. So…complete revisions of The Believer, and do some work on Time Guardian and Messy and I’ll have lots to work with.
  • Finish my current WIP that I started in November.
  • I give up on being a regular blogger. 😛

Happy 2017, cheers!

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!

For the most part I did well accomplishing my goals for 2015:

  • I finished extensive revisions on both Time Guardian and Messy (formally called A Hoard Life). I did some querying with Time Guardian, and while the concept interested agents, the pages didn’t manage to draw anyone in to want to read more. I think another revision is in order, I’m not ready to give up on it yet. I only just stared querying Messy and have had some success getting requests, but I need to get it out more.
  • I massively revised The Mystic Road, but it still needs more work before it’s ready to take any further.
  • I also did really well with my exercise program, I only missed workouts when I was ill or on vacation, etc.
  • My only fail this year was right around November I lost all motivation to work on revising, querying, or writing at all. I’m fine with taking a break, I probably really needed it so I’m not upset about it, but I want my enthusiasm back for the New Year.
  • Plus…I’m the worst blogger ever!

My goals for 2016:

  • Work on revisions for Time Guardian, especially making an effort to improve the first chapter and clean up some other story issues, then query more.
  • Continue querying Messy. Revise as necessary.
  • More revisions on The Mystic Road, consider querying when ready.
  • Work on a complete rewrite of The Believer. This was originally a YA fantasy that I think will work better as a MG fantasy. I already have notes on the planned changes, but it will be a huge project. I need to cut around 20,000 words and make some major plot changes in a few areas.
  • Writing a new MS isn’t necessarily a priority again, but it would be nice to work on something new. If I can fit that into my plan it would be great.
  • Continue keeping a writing journal, I really like doing that and it keeps me on track (that’s how I knew I was losing motivation because I stopped making entries. Step one in getting my writing mojo back is to write in my journal, it keeps me accountable).
  • Continue the exercise, which is great for both body and mind.
  • Learn guitar and ukulele. I started leaning guitar last year and I got a ukulele for Christmas, so I’d like to take the time to practice with them at least a few times a week. I don’t want or need to become an expert or anything, I’d just like to be able to play some songs for fun.
  • Finally, last year I wrote a whopping four blog entries. That’s just downright PATHETIC! I don’t want to be a fantastic blogger with a zillion readers and all that jazz. Most of what I write here is for my benefit instead of others, but I’d like to try and write at least one entry a month like I’ve done in years past.

Happy 2016!

Website Update

I’ve moved my book list to Goodreads, to make it easier to update and keep track of. The link to my “read shelf” is on the book list page. I also deleted my Quilting Bee pages since the club is pretty much defunct now…which is very sad…still, it was a lot of fun while it lasted! For now, this not-often-updated blog is mainly dedicated to my reading and writing.

Pitch Wars 2015 Mentee Bio

Hey there, welcome to my little bit of the web. Please ignore the fact that this blog is seldom used. My online presence is mostly on social media and it’s hard to maintain a blog when I keep writing about the exact same thing…

“Still writing…not published…working on it.”

That about sums it up!

Anyway, my name is Joni and I’m really hoping that this year I’ll find an awesome-sauce mentor with Pitch Wars to help me spruce up my latest project so I have a shiny gem to present to many lovely agents.

A little bit about me:  I’m 40-something years old, married, with three children. I haven’t always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always loved reading. Always. I dabbled with writing on and off while my kids were little, but busy mom stuff and health issues kept me from pursuing it seriously. Finally, in 2012, I got to business. I decided, “I’m going to write a novel!” and really meant it. Since then, I’ve written five complete novels and actively queried two of them, so I’m no stranger to how all this stuff works, but I know I have plenty to learn. My novels are YA or MG, all are fantasy in nature except one…

A bit about the MS I’m submitting to Pitch Wars:  My latest novel is my first MG contemporary. No fantasy, no magic, and no mystical lands. Just a normal girl in her own extraordinary circumstances. It’s funny, when I first started writing I would have never imagined writing anything but YA fantasy, so the fact that I’ve written this is a surprise even to me. But it’s all part of learning, growing, and becoming a better writer. My novel, MESSY, is about Bailey, a sixth-grade girl with a secret she’s dying to keep to herself…her mother is an out-of-control hoarder. By hoarder, I mean Bailey’s mother packs their house with all kinds of useless junk, so much that they can barely move around inside, and Bailey’s had enough. But, being a sixth-grader, what can she do? She feels trapped and alone at home, while at school she has to deal with all the craziness that comes along with being on the cusp of adolescence. Basically, everything is messy!

I think Middle Grade literature is special, it’s amazingly varied and packed with meaning on all sorts of levels. Most books that have moved me and made a lasting impact on my life have been MG.  Here’s a short list of some of my MG favorites (although I love so many there’s no way I can list them all):

  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
  • All Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
  • All Percy Jackson/Heroes of Olympus/Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan
  • The Prydain Chronicles (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, etc.) by Lloyd Alexander

I’ll stop before I get carried away, but you get the ideas.  I love MG books, I l just love books in general.  As far as being a potential mentee goes, I love writing and I’m perfectly aware of how much I have to learn.  I don’t mind feedback, in fact I like seeing lots of red on my manuscripts because it means I can  improve.  In writing, revising is where the real work is and I try my best to work hard.

Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone entering Pitch Wars!

I Fail at Blogging

Remember that whole, “I’ll try to post at least once a month” thing?  Yeah, neither do I.  Well, I stink at blogging.

Whatever.

Here’s an update on my writing adventures:  After an extensive revision, I started querying my second YA novel in earnest.  I’m only just getting started so I don’t have much to report, but this MS got a full request from a Twitter pitch event last year and I hope that wasn’t just a fluke.  Yes, the full request ended in rejection, but that’s still better than all the silence and form rejects I got the last time I queried.  However this turns out, I’m still making progress.  Slow progress, but I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I’m revising a MG contemporary.  I finished the first draft last year and finally got it out again.  I’m excited about this one, but it needs more work in the details.  I’ve had several beta readers give feedback and it’s been fairly positive and helpful.  If all goes well and I work hard, I think I can have it ready to query by the end of the summer.

2014 Reflections, 2015 Goals

I’m happy to say I accomplished all of my goals for 2014:

  • Continue querying my first MS after rewriting the query.  I rewrote the query and it was the best version yet, but after a few additional months of querying with no response whatsoever, MS #1 has been shelved.  I’m okay with this…moving on to other projects.  And just because it’s shelved doesn’t mean it’s dead.  I may just need to wait until there’s a better market for it (some minor feedback from agents I did get suggests this was their major issue for not requesting to see more, so I can wait).
  • Revise two manuscripts–done.  However, only one felt query ready.  I sent it out a little, got one full request for it that resulted in rejection.  Then I decided it needed more revision, so both manuscripts are still in the working stages.
  • Finish a new MS–also done.  This goal was an on-the-side goal if I had time.  It turns out I did have time and I got it done.
  • Continue keeping a writing journal–no problem.
  • Regular exercise–check.

My goals for this year are pretty similar, but I want to query a lot more so the focus will be getting multiple manuscripts to the querying stage:

  • Finish my planned revisions on Time Guardian (YA romance/sci-fi) and get it back out there into query land by spring.
  • Massive revisions on my new MS, The Hoard Life (MG contemporary).  Get it into the hands of a few CPs in the spring/summer and try to to have it query-ready by the end of the year (earlier, if I can manage it…I think I can).  Query this one extensively, especially if I have no luck with my earlier MS.
  • Continue revisions on The Mystic Road (MG fantasy).  I think I can also get this one query-ready, then it can wait its turn if the others don’t work out.
  • Writing a new MS isn’t a priority this year, although if I find I have the inspiration and the time, I have no problem starting one.  Even if I don’t start a new one, I would like to take some time to flesh out ideas I have rattling around in my brain and outline a few plots to consider for later.
  • Continue keeping a writing journal.  I find this really helpful to keep me on track.
  • Continue exercising regularly.  Not only is this good for the body, but it helps clear and focus my mind.  Also, keep up with the new menu I’ve been using for the past few months that seems to be helping a lot–more whole foods, less processed foods, and be aware of portions and snacking.

Happy New Year to all, let’s make 2015 great!