Category Archives: Writing

Out With 2017, In With 2018

So, it’s more than halfway through January 2018 and I’m only just now getting around to making this blog post about 2017. Call it a reflection of what last year was like, there is so much going on I just don’t have time for the extras…like blogging. Let’s face it, I’m a crappy blogger anyway, but in 2017 especially I just didn’t have time for it.

Not going to lie, the beginning of 2017 was rough for me as a writer. It’s not that I was ever tempted to quit everything, but there were many times I really questioned how much time I spent on writing without getting anywhere. That made it hard to feel motivated. But I pressed on as best I could. In the end I accomplished a lot, which I’m only really realizing now as I’m writing this blog post.

What I accomplished:

  • Completed major revisions on The Believer and Messy
  • Finished the MS I started in 2016 during NaNoWriMo (#6)
  • Started another MS (#7) during NaNoWriMo this year. Got a 20K word start on that. I wished for more, but illness really made it difficult. I’m just happy to have something to work with
  • Made notes on possible revision for Time Guardian (the more I think about it, as much as I love this MS, it could use a major overhaul to make it way better…just going to take time)
  • Worked a concept for MS #8…that one needs more ideas before I can start it
  • I plugged on querying Messy and it finally paid off! I signed with an agent in May!

I’m excited what this year will bring and I’m ready to work hard. What I hope to do:

  • Keep working with my agent on my road to future publication…it’s a process. Having an agent guarantees nothing, but it’s nice to have someone on my side. I hope we continue having success with our working relationship
  • Complete major edits on MS #6 that I’m tentatively calling Starling. Right now it’s still in first draft stage (in other words…it’s a mess). I hope to get it into better shape this year
  • Finish MS #7. I’m really excited about this project
  • I’d like to at least get a good start on MS #8
  • Revising is a constant. The trick is to focus my energies on projects that have a better chance at a future. I may have to shelve projects in order to focus on others, sadly, so taking time to really evaluate what I have and what is most worth continuing to work on
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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.