Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dudes, I'm Freaking Out!

So I have myself a few beta readers now and they're actually reading my story! Uh, yeah, I mean that's what I want, no doubt about it, but see, I'm used to handing off the first chapter or two for friends to read to get their opinion (and granted this was back when my writing sucked insert expletive) and the usual caveat was no reply back. Ever. Even though my writing is somewhat decent nowadays, I expected that to happen again after finding me a few betas.

Well, the first one that I hitched up with hasn't responded to me in two weeks, and I gave them the first six chapters three weeks ago. Gave them some time, thinking, okay, people have lives and they probably can't get to it right away. No biggie. Got an email saying they were still working on their notes and would send them to me in a few days. Sweet. So I waited, and waited, and still no email. That figures, I thought. Well, perhaps my story really does suck insert expletive. I tell peeps, if it isn't your thing, let me know so I don't go on wondering if you've read it or will finish, but no one ever does what I ask of them. Like, in my whole life. Ever.

I have now regarded the beta as a no go. But then I got another offer. Sweet! So far this beta has made it through the first several chapters and has sent me their notes, and boy did they have notes.

Now I'm freaking out!

Oh lawd!

Someone is actually reading my story, and making notes, and giving me their opinions, and I am scared that they'll say the book I've been scribbling away at for four years (off and on) sucks insert expletive. I've never had anyone read past the first chapter or two before, and now they are getting into the meat of the story and tearing it apart. I mean, this is what I wanted, isn't it? I wanted someone to read it with a critical eye and show me, in their opinion, where I need improving because I'm much too close to the work to see my mistakes. This is what I wanted.

And still do, and now I have three other peeps reading my story, and so now I'm freaking out more, and all I can think about right now is that there are more people reading my silly little 180k word (okay, not so little) story, and will they finish it? Is the story that ridiculously dumb and full of grammar mistakes? Why am I freaking out? Am I just in a particular mood right now and in a few days it'll pass? Maybe I need to drink some wine and calm the hell down.

Dude, just chill.
It makes me wonder if I'm the only one who has ever freaked out about having other peeps read their work or if this is normal? The more notes I get the more I think my writing is crap and that I should give up. Then I think, you idiot, don't give up over one person's opinion, or over several people's opinions. Believe your work is good, and whatever advice they give use only what applies to you. I know how I want my work to be better than anyone. Still, I don't know. Maybe it's the anxiety and depression I've been feeling lately, but I know this feeling will pass sooner or later. It has to. I worked to hard to let crits bother me. They're supposed to help, but in my mind right now for whatever reason is making them as if they are an attack on my ability to write, and they aren't even bad. I've even had compliments on many aspects of my writing. If I let crits, which are meant to help, bother me, then what am I going to do when or if I get published?

So perhaps I should take Jabba the Curbside Cat's advice up there. Work on a new project for a while to take my mind off of this one (I do have an idea for a new story, just need the motivation to start plotting it out), and chillax.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Reminder Of My Failure

For the past couple of months I've made it a point to go for a walk every evening, or most evenings after supper to burn off the calories I had ingested. I was growing tired of my midsection expanding further and further and needed to do something to put an end to that nonsense, so I started taking long walks. So far I've lost ten pounds since winter, not a lot, but the weight didn't come on suddenly either. It was a gradual gain and will be a gradual loss.

This post isn't about my weight loss, it's about what I discovered a month or more ago on my walks that has reminded me of my failure in life, my failure to have a good job or career, to have money in the bank or even for recreation, let alone for retirement and what have you. It stands on the corner of Washington and Middle streets in my home town, in all of its Victorian, tan brick, and purple shingled glory. Yup, a house. But not just any house, it's the house that since I was a young girl had dreamed of owning some day. Some day, when it would go up for sale, when I was an adult and had a job and money, I was going to buy that magnificent house and it would be mine. This house right here:

Not its best side, but look at it, it's so pretty!

I love this house, it has a mysterious, creepy old look to it, like a witch would live there, and that's what has drawn me to it. It fits my personality and style. And it's for sale. At a great price. And I'm too broke to buy it, and my credit is too fucked up to even get a mortgage to pay on it, thanks to my past dumb decisions and a certain ex who drove my excellent credit into the ground.

So therefore I walk past this house, depressed that I may never have the chance to buy it. I daydream as I walk past it that I will one day live there, and landscape the yard and make it all so pretty. But it's all it is, a daydream. Someone will snatch it up before me, without doubt, and whoever does, I hope they take good care of that house. It was my dream house, since I was a girl. And it looks like it will remain that way. (And BTW, I learned it's 123 years old. The history!)

As much as it depresses me to think I could never own 404 Washington St., it also gives me a bit of a kick in the ass to do something about my shortcomings. It's a reminder that if I want something, I need to do something and stop this moping. Get to work on my dreams instead of relying on others, and don't let anyone talk me into doing something I know in my gut is wrong and will ruin me. This house is telling me I need to work on my dreams, I need to become more self-reliant, need to build up something for my life, because when a golden opportunity does come and I'm no where near ready for it, it will pass me by. So I'm back to working on my books, looking to find work and start new on my life, and that means without a significant other. I must hold myself up first and foremost, and not let others bring me down. I will have a career in writing, whether I make millions or a pittance, I will succeed one way or another. Though millions would be nice, I would settle for enough to be able to afford a good down payment on 404 Washington, but to do that I need to get to work and get to writing.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Draft Three Complete!

And the search begins for beta readers. I have a few willing readers already, that's if they can make it through all 180k words. Yeah, I failed to cut it to my goal of 150k words, but doing so would have taken out large chunks of the story that I would have had to rewrite and possibly change the story to where I didn't want it to be. Maybe I'm just too attached to the thing and maybe a beta or two may find something that can be cut or reduced (hopefully not expanded on, it's a doorstop as it is).

My next task at hand is to search for another couple more betas, see if any of them will be a good fit for me and my work, and begin working on book two and a query letter. I may hold off on the query letter for a while yet until I get some more feedback from my betas in case any major restructuring will have to happen, which I doubt but you never know. Ideally I would like at least one beta that knows their stuff about 15th century Romania and Hungary and can help me make the setting and characters a little more authentic (like the use of slang or terminology, though it's all written in English and assumed to be translated from these languages). It's a historical fantasy, so I have leeway to fudge things more than a straight historical, still, I'd like to keep the historical parts I choose to keep authentic as close to authentic as one can get.

So tonight I'll go hit up the peeps on Absolute Write in the beta forum and see if I get any nibbles, and swallow down my fear and let some stranger tear apart my work, preferably in a civilized manner.

On a side note, the search for a bill paying job continues and today I went in for a second interview at a casino I applied to for a job working in housekeeping at their hotel. I think it went well, the head housekeeper seemed really nice, he made me laugh and I learned more about him I think than he learned about me. Being that the place is an Indian run casino, as he explained it to me, anyone with at least a quarter of Native American blood, especially if they are of the tribe running the casino, will have precedence over anyone that is non-Native American, and I may be the most qualified person for the job, but they have the right to pass me up for someone of their tribe that wants the same job as I do, because on the casino's land, it is their tribe's land and state and federal law does not apply there concerning the Equal Opportunity law found elsewhere in America. And possibly other laws as well. Their hiring process has been quite slow, it had been nearly a month when I went in for the first interview and I had pretty much given up hope to get an invite for a second. If I do get another invite for another interview (I have no idea how many they do), I wonder if it'll be another month before I hear from them? In the meantime, I'll just keep looking and applying for other places (and not hear back from them), work in my flower gardens and now book two, and wait. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

An Evening Romp Through Quaker Cemetery

I have a fascination with cemeteries because of the history of the dead laid to rest in them and their peaceful atmosphere. A friend and I went to this little hidden gem of a cemetery yesterday in eastern Barry County Michigan, only a few miles south of where we live, located in Maple Grove TWP on a dirt back road. It's easy to miss it if you don't know where to look for the drive, partially hidden behind wild shrubbery and grasses, looking every bit like a private drive. The drive is a two-track that goes up a steep hill, full of ruts from the heavy rain we've had lately here washing out parts of the drive, and on either side wild growth trimmed just enough to not scratch up your car too badly. However, not all the tree and shrub branches are cut back far enough to avoid scratches, so taking a car you wouldn't want scratched would be a good idea, or leave the car parked at the bottom of the hill off to the side of the road and walk.

Entry of the cemetery. No signs to let you know there's even a cemetery here.

View of drive going toward the cemetery.
View of drive from atop the hill.

Perhaps driving the Cadillac up there wasn't a good idea.

Once you reach the top, the drive ends in a tiny little parking area big enough for maybe three vehicles. The cemetery sits on a sandy hill surrounded by woods, a swamp, and someone's property to the south. There are several very old maple trees growing there, from their looks I would guess they had been there as long, or almost as long, as the cemetery. At first I thought they were oaks since I had never seen maples as huge as these before, but their leaves gave their identity away. The headstones here are sparse, according to records there are only 61 known persons buried, most of them during the 19th century with a few buried in the early 20th century, but is still maintained by the township. The headstones on most are hard to read, worn from the weather and time. As the name implies, those of the Quaker faith were buried here and the motifs used on many of the headstones imply such.

There's a sign as you enter the cemetery that tells you a little about the place and the history of the area, and I do mean little. The first settlers in the area were Quakers, and once they had disappeared, so too did most of the remnants that they had even settled here, except the cemetery and the brook named after them, Quaker Brook. At least, that's what I gathered by the sign. I hadn't done any research on the place, but after my visit my curiosity is perked, and I may do some more.

Perhaps what is best know of this cemetery with the locals is that it's supposedly haunted. I think that goes for any cemetery, but there have been stories of lights in the cemetery after dark, or of a man with a shot gun at the top of the hill if you drive up it after dark with the car lights off, or other men wandering the cemetery or some other nonsense. Apparently one is supposed to get a sinking, sick feeling when they enter, but my friend and I only experienced joy and amazement when entering this little place. In fact, the whole day up until we went there my stomach had not been feeling well, but afterward I started feeling better. So, take what you make of that. But then, after I uploaded the pictures onto my computer, I noticed this picture:

Those are tree shadows upon that headstone shaped like a human figure. Creepy! But other than that, neither of us experienced anything out of the normal with the place. Perhaps a drive to the cemetery at night is in order? Hmmm...

Our stay there wasn't very long. After several snapshots of the headstones, landscape, and the big old trees, we headed back home. I would like to go back there again, but next time with paper and charcoal and rub some of the headstones to see if they can be read that way. It's sad that many were broken, but at least they are still mostly there. A few were repaired as best as they could be, others are so worn that they are unreadable. Since I have way too many pictures to share on this post, here's a link to my Photobucket album that you may browse through: Quaker Cemetery.

A Revolutionary War soldier, Sergeant John Quick.

He was a soldier of the revolution
Under General Washington cms(?) at valley forge
Inst(?) at the battle of trenton.

Enjoy the pictures, and if you are ever in the area, stop by and take a walk through this little piece of history.