Narcissism 101: How I Got My Pen Name

Once upon a time, I stumbled into the world of Twilight Fanfiction. And I was soooo impressed with the medium. I mean, fanfic has always existed, we just didn’t call it that. If you were around in the early 80s, you’ll know about all the Star Trek books that were published with Gene Rodenberry’s permission.

Um, Shakespeare started it. For realz.

There are a ton of great fandom-inspired stories out there, many of which have now been pulled from fanfic sites and published as original fiction. Which has nothing to do with my pen name. As usual, I’m blathering as I wander down a side street, no longer thinking about where I’m supposed to be going.

Hey, this is a first draft, eh? LOL I am unlikely to redraft it, jsyk.

Oh, look! Squirrel!

527371_390425771001549_478175376_n

Isn’t it the cutest thing?

Okay, okay! I’ll focus.

Well. After about a year of reading Twilight FF, I decided to try my hand at it and that required a user account and a pen name. Because NO WAY did I want to use my real name and have the kids from my school showing up at my door. I was right to worry about that. More later.

My name really is Jess. It’s my preferred name. But I had no idea what to call myself at first and I was looking around the room pensively when my gaze fell upon my dog, Molly.

Molly was named for one of my favourite fictional moms, Molly Weasley from the Potter books.

July 2012 005

My kids say I’m like Molly Weasley to a scary degree. I’m a total Momma Bear. Don’t mess with my cubs. But also, as Fred and George said of her temper, “Don’t let her get on a roll! Once she gets started, she won’t stop for hours!”

I have to admit that’s true. It’s hard to provoke me but once I spout off, I don’t quit.

So, I picked the pen name jmolly. I am named after my dog, who is the Best Dog Ever. And I happily posted FF under that moniker for several years, grateful that the Grade 8’s at my school were oblivious to the fact they were discussing my latest lemon out in the hallway where I could hear them. Man, was that squicky. I overheard them whispering about my FF so many times and I wanted to march up and tell them they weren’t old enough to read it, but I knew I’d out myself.

Yeah. When my eldest hit high school, one of the English teachers was running a jmolly fan club. My son was not impressed. See what I mean about the need for pen names?!?

I will remain safely in my bunker, thank you.

bunker

Uh, it’s not really mine. I found it on Tumblr. I want it, though. I may build one in my back yard. Pretty, no?

Okay. So eventually I started writing original fiction and I started trying to figure out my pen name. A few people suggested I keep Jess Molly.

When you want a pen name, you google it and see who pops up. That way, you don’t find yourself taking a name somebody else in the public eye uses. I googled Jess Molly. I got six hookers, one porn star and a lawyer. Scratch that. I couldn’t possibly share a name with a lawyer.

I seriously wanted Jess Watson. Watson is a family name that goes back a few generations. Well, do you remember the teenager who sailed around the world a few years back? Jess Watson. Sigh.

Through much fussing, I landed on a person who I’ve always rather admired. I watched too many musicals growing up, I suppose, but oddly enough, they got me interested in history. Molly Brown. The Unsinkable. I could relate to that.

Unsinkable Molly Brown

And as for the real lady, what an interesting person!

Unsinkable MB

I decided I wanted to name myself after the Unsinkable. But I was worried I could be sued for it. I actually consulted a lawyer before taking the name. Obviously, it’s okay to be a Molly Brown. Just not to claim to be THE Molly Brown. Isn’t she pretty?

Funnily enough, I didn’t develop an interest in the Edwardian Era until I started writing a WWI novel this year. And now, I’m totally obsessed with the time period! Weird, eh?

So now you know. Pleased to meet ya. I’m Jess Molly Brown.

 

 

 

 

Narcissism 101: Squee!!!

Hey! Remember way back in April of 2014 when I told you that one day I’d be doing this?

tumblr_inline_mfco4wOBdu1qjxfzm

Well, I am doing the Internal Happy Dance. I won’t attempt to do it for real because I’d fall down.

You’ve been very patient.

527371_390425677668225_1491736007_n

And I’ve been fairly patient.

f2cec98f06e8f66ff0bcfb2ffdb413eb

And guess what? Everything’s finally coming together!!!

12742786_889587934494234_4245839177514531240_n

Well, maybe not at dawn, but pretty darn close.

Now, I s’pose you’d all like a little peek at Moms on Missions, First book in the Mommageddon Series, am I right? It’s a spicy comedy romance.

Summary:

Artist Vince Russo wants to advance his career but his devout mother, Diana, wants grandchildren. Vince lives in Niagara Falls and he doesn’t even date!

Diana joins the Moms on Missions (“MOM”), who strive to better the lives of their clients’ kids. MOM installs Vince’s fantasy girl upstairs in the duplex where he lives.

Their pick for Vince is sick of dancing to her mother’s tune, so she certainly won’t admit she finds her sensitive, playful neighbour sexy. However, she’d love to make him her pseudo-boyfriend to get MOM off her back.

Will these young rebels come together organically, or is there no hope for their moms?

 

Capture Denis Dervisevic flikr Chris arms crossed cropped

Excerpt:

The door clicks shut softly behind Vince. Paeng is sitting at the table, eating toast and peanut butter. He glances at Vince curiously. “What did she want?”

“To rip off my ‘nads and force-feed them to me.” Vince sinks into the chair opposite. “I am the screw-up of all screw-ups. I am the king of the idiot world.” He bangs his forehead down on the table and Paeng’s peanut-butter covered knife pings off the table onto the floor. “If all the losers on the planet got together to live in one city, they would name it after me.”

“Can’t be that bad.” Paeng shrugs, retrieving the knife. “What did you do?” He scrapes more peanut butter on his toast.

Vince sits up with his fists curled on the table and looks at him candidly. “Last night, I wanted to hang the drop cloth out on the line, so I took in her laundry.”

Paeng eyes him in confusion. “But, that was . . . nice.”

Vince’s head droops. “Well, I got some paint on one of her bras, and she accused me of snogging it.”

His housemate snorts. “Were you?”

Vince squirms uncomfortably. “No, but . . .”

Paeng is incredulous. “Dude.”

“I may have admired it a little.”

“How?”

Vince can’t look at Paeng. “Wash smells pretty off the line. Fresh air, flowery detergent, you know.”

“How did you paint get on it?”

“Um . . .” Vince swallows hard.

Paeng leans back and rests his hand flat on the table. “Vince.”

Blushing, he snaps at his friend. “I dropped the bra on the wet tarp and I guess I must have accidentally gotten paint on it and touched it to my cheek, okay?”

Paeng is silent as Vince sighs. “I didn’t mean to take my upset out on you, sorry.”

“No big. So, you fondled it. Was it good for you?” Paeng’s eyes glitter, making Vince’s anxiety flare.

“I couldn’t help myself! The girl’s smoking hot and yet she doesn’t appear to own trashy underwear.” He feels all dreamy just thinking about it. “It’s simple and soft . . . it felt so nice. She’s not like any of the girls I’ve met before. She’s direct, feisty and artistic and I bet she’s really smart. She’s nothing like the usual MOM Girl and she’s not even my type. But her underwear is beautiful. She doesn’t wear slutty underwear because she doesn’t put on airs, and oh, God, that’s so attractive. What I wouldn’t give to see—”

Paeng face palms Vince. “Dude. You are waxing poetic about cotton underwear like my sisters wear when they get their periods. It’s just underwear.”

 

Niagara aerial view at night cropped

MY COVER REVEAL WILL BE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20TH. BLOGGERS MAY SIGN UP AT PROMO STARS FOR THE COVER BLITZ, THE PRE-ORDER GIVEAWAY BLITZ, AND THE BLOG TOUR.

I’m excited. Are you excited?

 

Promo Stars
 

Embracing Rejection

To get a novel published, you have to develop a thick skin, something I started to do five years ago when I began posting fan fiction for public consumption. As great as most readers are, there are those who like to flame writers. You have to learn not to let it get you down. In short, you have to be professional in face of personal attacks.

Melodramatic pug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The worst flame I ever got was for my most popular fan fiction, “I Hunger for Your Touch.” The reviewer said, “You’re a mediocre writer. You ought to just quit and go back to your day job. Don’t subject us to any more of this crap.” Wow, did it hurt. As you can see, I still remember it and it happened 3 years ago. But then I remembered the 1500 reviews that were positive, and I didn’t quit.

I’ve been told by an acquisitions editor that the average manuscript is rejected seven times before it’s accepted. So I haven’t begun to reach my quota, and the positive feedback I’ve had on my original fiction leads me to hope that I won’t have to go through it seven times.

As many of you know, in February of 2012 I was approached by a publisher and asked to write a novel. I submitted my manuscript to them on July 11, 2012. On October 12 of that year, the senior acquisitions editor asked for changes and advised me to get a select group of friends to give feedback before resubmitting. She led me to believe my book would be accepted if I polished it up.

In November, the company restructured. The people who wanted “Moms on Missions” were gone. Nevertheless, I was asked to resubmit and did so in January of 2013.

My first rejection came July 31, 2013 and I was devastated.

Gif-Cat-shaking-the-headI honestly loved that company. The new acquisitions editor told me that they had great difficulty with their decision as they thought the characters and writing technique were excellent. The reasons they gave for the rejection seemed inadequate. First, they didn’t think readers would accept that a group of contemporary Canadian moms would band together to sneakily match make their kids (They never met my neighbours, obviously.).  Second, they didn’t think a bunch of traditional moms, aged 48 to 60, would use Facebook (I beg to differ. Statistics  prove it.).

So, I went back to the original, senior acquisitions person who told me to make changes and she very kindly told me that I had talent, my story could be great and I had to persist. She gave me more tips and I began another rewrite.

Now, if a writer wants to pay a professional editor to edit a book of 120, 000 words, the writer is looking at a bill of $2400 US per edit on average. Considering that many authors don’t get ‘in the black’ until their third novel, that’s a scary prospect. The alternative is to rely on beta editors who will do the job for free.

I’ve been very blessed with extremely talented Betas. The downside is, the process becomes much slower because they’re doing it in their free time. So yes, I probably could have had my book fit for publication a year ago, had I been able to fork out a couple of grand. But I wasn’t, and I’m very grateful to have friends who can edit for me. God bless them!

In late January of this year, I submitted a query to another publisher and received a request to see the novel eight days later. Phenomenal! So, off it went and I tried not to bite my nails. On February 19th, I received my second rejection. Now here’s the funny thing: I wasn’t devastated. I did, however, smack myself in the forehead because the acquisitions person was absolutely right to reject it.

THELUKEE on WeHeartIt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, you heard me. She told me that I was exceptionally talented but I’d made a rookie mistake. I set my readers up to expect a comedy romance and delivered a dramatic ending. It’s called a “bait and switch.” And I did it. I absolutely did. *smacks self upside the head*

For this revelation, I was soooo grateful. You see, the last thing I’d want to do is write a book that would disappoint my readers. I wrote back to the editor and thanked her.

I went to Hubbs with some trepidation. He wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but he gave me what is likely the most valuable supportive message I’ve ever had: You are in a career where rejection is a regular occurrence. Don’t fuss about it, keep working on it until you get accepted. Go on, get back at it!

tumblr_m064sbYFSD1r1bbmlo1_500 cute owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, I started another rewrite the day I received the rejection notice, hoping to make the book more cohesive by removing a lot of the angst.

I see a lot of upset about rejection (including bad reviews) expressed by professional authors and hobby writers alike. It may seem obvious, but to succeed in this business, one must learn to embrace rejection and be thrilled if a publisher cares enough about one’s work to send feedback. While personal attacks are never acceptable, a negative comment is a chance to strengthen the novel.

In March, I approached three new people who kindly consented to read and evaluate “MoM.” So that’s where my baby is now. With editors. I haven’t received a lot of feedback yet, but I’m willing to be patient.

I’m not giving up.

thereisalwayshope_zpse3fb84ff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not sure where I’m taking “MoM” next, but traditional publishing still attracts me more than self-publishing. But I have friends who are published, and the dearest of them said to me, “We will find a good home for MoM. It’s a great story and we just have to find the right fit for you.”

Are they great or are they great?

So one day, you’ll get an “I’m getting published” message from me and I will look like this:

 

tumblr_inline_mfco4wOBdu1qjxfzm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then my minions will look like this:

 

minion joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do hope you’ll stick with me for that day.

Thanks so much for reading my blog and being so supportive. I heart you bigtime and I love hearing from you.

xoox Jess


 

 

 

Ka-BOOM!!!!!

Neuremberg house clipMy kids blew up my house. It’s the only explanation for its current state of… post nuclear devastation.

Kidding. Sort of.

Did you ever go through a time where you carefully crafted plans, made promises and held yourself to high standards and then suddenly, the whole structure gave way? I bet you have, and on more than one occasion. After all, we really can’t control anything but our own attitudes when life doesn’t go as we expect.

I believe God gives us trials so that we learn to rely on Him and not on ourselves. And oh boy, I’ve been reminding myself of that a lot. And you know what? I can keep up with a lot of responsibilities when the structure provided by a domestic routine holds. But throw a few caltrops in the road, and the whole household machine wobbles toward the ditch.

The Roman Society: Caltrops

The Roman Society: Caltrops

November has been one of those months where there has been one caltrop in front of another. And these unwelcome experiences do pass. Seriously. Nothing bad lasts forever, providing we don’t dwell on it.

 

 

 

 

This month at our house, we’ve had:

  1. A small bathroom repair turn into a major renovation. That means the six of us have only had one functional bathroom for a month and our Christmas budget is shot;
  2. An injury to a child caused by a brand new, defective appliance;
  3. A seriously awful reaction to a prescription drug;
  4. This blog fell victim to a spammer.
  5. A broken dishwasher, oven, bread machine, TV and washing machine;
  6. We’ve been waiting for months for contractors to put in a basement egress window and now we have this snow;
  7. A scare with Techwiz’s heart; and
  8. The flu.

Know what? We’ve made it through so far, even though there have been tempers and tears at times. My Christmas shopping is almost complete and I have everything on the kids’ wish lists. And during all this? I did NaNoWriMo. See that little button over there on the right of my pages? I wrote 50, 211 words of my new manuscript in 30 days. While I’m wondering how the heck I managed it, you might be wondering why I tried.

 

2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner NaNo

Way back around the middle of October, before life got overwhelming, I considered whether I wanted to sign up for NaNo. Last year, all my friends did and while they got a nifty certificate and 50K+ of a new OF to show for it, I chose to NOT join and work on my manuscript. And while they got their ‘wins’, I ended up writing 33K anyway. So, I thought, why not? Why not see if I can keep up the pace of a professional writer, while looking after a household during what is normally our busiest time of year?

So, I signed up, and everything went swimmingly at first. I was always ahead of schedule and according to the statistics analyzer, likely to finish on November 20th. And then, Real Life happened. And I got through NaNo, but barely finished today. So what have I learned that might benefit you when your life gets overwhelming? A few things.

People have always asked me, “What advice would you give an aspiring writer?” and I’ve only been able to quote others. Well, now I know exactly what to tell them. And it’s obvious to state, and really difficult to do: Exercise self-discipline.

That’s not only true of a writing career. It’s essential to any sort of success in life.

Being an author, while being part of a family or any other network, requires one to achieve some sort of balance. Now, I’m not saying that my life is in good balance, because it isn’t. But I’m not dying of anxiety, depression or frustration and nobody’s died due to my negligence. And the reason it’s all not thoroughly shot is, instead of trying to devour a whole elephant-sized mess of challenges at once, I take one bite of the elephant. And eventually, the challenges get down to manageable sizes.

It’s easy as an author (or anyone who works from home) to procrastinate. Some people even resort to putting applications on their Internet-accessible devices that block them from going online. I just stick to structure as much as possible. This is pretty much how a weekday is supposed to go (not that it always does):

  • 7AM: Morning ablutions. Stick on a load of laundry.
  • 7:10AM: Wake Painterjoy. Let the dogs out.
  • 7:25AM: Wake Techwiz. Get my coffee.
  • 7:30AM: Read my short devotional and pray.
  • 7:50AM: See my high schoolers out the door and wake my public schoolers.
  • 8:00AM-9:00AM: Do dishes and tidy up.
  • 8:50AM: All kids had better be off to school!
  • 9:00AM: Breakfast and read a book.
  • 9:30AM: Make any essential phone call(s). If there are none, possibly call a friend.
  • 10:00-11:30AM: Answer emails. Change the wash loads.
  • 11:30AM-1:00PM: Spend time with the kids while they eat lunch.
  • 1:00PM-3PM: Write.
  • 2:30PM: Check for any urgent emails.
  • 3:00PM-4:00PM: Hear about the kids’ days.
  • 4:00-5:00PM: House chores and tidy up.
  • 5:00-6:00PM: Dinner and hear about Hubbs’ day at work.
  • 6:00-8:00PM: Variable: Errands/Walk dogs/House chores/Socialize with Hubbs/Help with reno jobs/Spend time with kids (homework help, 1:1 time, deal with anything urgent).
  • 8:00PM: Kick out all visiting friends of kids. Hubbs to bed.
  • 8:00-9:30PM: Write. Prep blog posts, write reviews. Face and Twitter time.
  • 9:00PM: Tell kids to prep for bed (snacks, grooming, etc).
  • 9:30PM: Younger kids to bed.
  • 11:00PM: Older kids to bed.
  • 11:00PM-?: Write and/or read.
  • 1:00AM: Iron-clad bedtime.

Somewhere in there, I’m supposed to maintain a relationship with my husband and occasionally socialize with friends. And I had occasion to count how many times I took the kids to doctors’ appointments this year. This Friday, I took a kid to appointment #98. We have 4 more scheduled before December 31st. As I can’t drive with vertigo, getting places can be a pain.

I learn everything the hard way and life tends to be a juggling act. So, what can I tell you about being productive?

  1. Know thyself and know thy limits. Sometimes, you MUST say ‘no’ to others, but occasionally the thing you need to say ‘no’ to is something selfish;
  2. Take care of your physical, spiritual and emotional health;
  3. Schedule your time, including time for your family;
  4. Break with routine sometimes to have some spontaneous fun;
  5. Do what you love;
  6. Treat people the way you wish to be treated;
  7. Be passionate;
  8. Persevere when you fail;
  9. Be a friend;
  10. Forgive yourself and others;
  11. Apologize;
  12. When something’s gotta give, go with the flow.

 

So, I conquered NaNo. Will I do it again? Maybe. I made really good progress on Mommapocalypse. What’s next? I’m prepping for Christmas and querying Moms on Missions. And I need to get some fan fiction chapters out to my fans, because they’re amazingly patient and I love them. There will be OF writing because I have to keep momentum. I’m hoping to circle with my friends who write because we’ve all been hiding under rocks. Then, there’s the blog.

 

Will I reach all my goals by New Years? Probably not. Will I reach them eventually? I have faith that I will. And my biggest tool will be self-discipline. What are your challenges?

As I mentioned, I fell victim to a spammer who managed to serve my blog over 10, 000 comments this month. If you left me a legitimate comment and it’s not up, I’ve likely erased it accidentally. If you love me, please leave me a comment and let me know you’re reading, and to guarantee that I know you’re not a spambot (because the devils are tricky and hard to tell from real readers), please start your comment off with my name.

 

Hey, I’m sleep deprived and I’ve had no social life for a month. Let me know you’re there?

Happy End of November!

 

Narcissism 101: My Writing Evolution

Writer poster

Talking about how I came to be a writer feels awfully self-centered. But, what the heck?

When I was a rug rat, I got sick and my mother got super-anxious because the doctor didn’t take it seriously. Not even when I attempted to die. Ends up, I was diabetic and my blood sugar was over 800 (Old scale. I think that’s like having an A1C of 80 today. Normal is 5). My mother was told I wouldn’t live. I did. Then, she was told I wouldn’t walk again. I did. At the age of four, she put me in ballet. I danced until I was 16, when weak ankles prevented me from going en pointe.

Doctors don’t know everything.

My point? I think when I temporarily lost the ability to walk, my imagination took over. Like in Polyanna.

Boredom is a foreign concept. I think the only time I’ve ever been bored is when trapped in my Grade 9 (a.k.a. Freshman Year of high school) math class, with a teacher who said “Um… err,” every other word. It’s the only time I’ve ever considered doing violence. Seriously, abusing the English language like that? Grounds for mayhem. We spent four months learning how to do basic fractions. Sigh.

Why be bored if you can construct worlds in your head? Use your imagination, already!

9-19-2008_010 - Copy croppedI’ve always had an affinity for words. When I was two, I told my doctor that after someone took a bath, there was condensation on the toilet, which vibrated when flushed.

(Did I mention I was weird eccentric? Might as well put that out there right now.)

By the time I was three, I was reading and writing. Somewhere, my mother has a recording of me reading The Fwee Littoh Peegs. I think she played it for every friend I ever had. Most of them did not run away screaming. Yeah, I had good friends.

When I was five, I had a (very) short story published in an educational tome. I’m still fond of that story. That was likely the first time I said, “I want to be a writer.” I have a binder of stories I wrote as a child. Who knows? Someday, I might update and publish them. Not exactly my normal area of concentration. *coughs –spicy romance- coughs* But hey, Judy Blume gets away with writing two disparate genres. Of course, she’s Judy Blume. She’s on Twitter, by the way. I tweeted with her once… *fangirl moment*

At eight, I read at an adult level. I was annoying like that.

As a hobby, in Grade 7 and 8, I wrote three reference book manuscripts about animals, birds and fish, complete with drawings. I showed them to my school librarian. I think he was gobsmacked that a kid my age would spend scads of spare time compiling reference material. Alien. He wanted me to publish, but I hadn’t credited my sources, so I couldn’t do anything with the manuscripts. Now, we have the Internet and kids don’t need books like that anyhow.

In Grade 9, I met my first mentor, a genius who had abandoned teaching in a prestigious university in favour of shaping young minds. His name was Merv Sharpe and I don’t think I’d be a writer today were it not for him. He’d scrawl pages and pages of English notes on five blackboards and when class was over, not a few kids were groaning and clutching cramped hands.

The majority of my friends were quirky. They’d have been the fringe kids today, probably. Most of the guys had mullets (except my pal Brian J., who was an army cadet). Most of the girls were a bit punk, with earrings in unusual places and dyed, spiky hair. I had a ducktail like David Bowie. I put this highlight-stuff on it that washed out. It was like gold paint and it came in a mascara-like tube. My guy friends were hooked on Metallica and Skinny Puppy, and the girls were into Billy Idol and Eurythmics. As for me, I was absorbing Bowie 24-7, with a dash of Sting and Peter Gabriel thrown in for kicks.

The kids a year older than me let me hang out with them in Art. The ones my age jammed in the music room during lunch hour. Great times.

Yeah, I’m nostalgic about the Eighties. Sue me. The clothes and hair were epic. I still wear my Esprit jean jacket, which cost me a whopping $50 back in 1986. Quality lasts.

I can still sing you any Bowie song up to 1989. Try me.

He’s still got it. Just sayin’. I really want to see his multimedia art exhibition, but it probably won’t happen for me.

I got Mr. Sharpe again in Grade 13 (a.k.a. Senior Year #2). I’d get my work done and my pal Brian J. and I would start exchanging notes and sketches. Mr. Sharpe noticed, and in the hope that he could prevent us from plotting world domination, he started passing us sheets of foolscap with one word (or phrase) at the top, written in red. B.J. and I would spend the rest of the class responding to the teacher’s note. We’d swap papers and read them, then, hand them in. I still remember some of those pages:

Why?

Would you rather be a legend or a myth?

Hero vs. heroine.

Astrology and astronomy.

Merv Sharpe taught me how to express opinions and emotion on paper. If I could see him today, I’d hug him. I missed seeing him at my 20th high school reunion. Boo.

In my teens, I dabbled in poetry. Somehow, I got a couple of poems published in a compilation. My family spent more buying half a dozen copies than I ever made off it, with good reason. I’d prefer that it never see the light of day.

University? I didn’t think a Lit degree would snare me a job, so I majored in music, specializing in Music Education. I’m a Dramatic Soprano. Betcha don’t know what that is! Technically, I can conduct a band or choir (You wouldn’t want me to). Plus, I tried out a bunch of instruments. Although I played a lot of flute, I cherish a secret hope to play the oboe professionally, but I don’t have the time to indulge every dream. I also loved bassoon, but I suck at clarinet. I minored in French, English Lit, and Psychology. My intent was to go to Teacher’s College, but my grandmother had Parkinson’s and I didn’t want to leave home. My mother worked and Grammie would have had to go into a nursing home. Not an option.

Then, I met Hubbs. I was his boss in the Opera Workshop program, where I was in charge of props and dressings. I took one look and thought, “I could marry him.” That was 22 years ago.

Later, I was a stage manager. We finished up school, then found out music degrees weren’t very handy. He decided to trade being an opera singer for accounting, and I took a six month course in Secretarial Sciences. That’s where I got my typing up to 90wpm. Need a job? If you’ve got a computer, take advantage of a free Learn to Type program and practice, practice, practice. Here’s one for you: http://www.typingweb.com/ All it costs you is time, and you can get all kinds of work out of it.

Motherhood. The only things I wrote for 12 years were letters to my children. And grocery lists.  Suddenly, Microsoft rocked our world. You might have known me in the Potterverse as Sculdermully. I may have written an online essay or three. I daydreamed Harry Potter and X-Files. I’m not sure I got a fair night’s sleep in ten years, but I read like a fiend.  Effectively, I was making up fanfic in my head, but never wrote anything down. And that’s because I don’t think you can improve upon JK Rowling. Chris Carter’s a fanfic writer’s dream, though.

People told me to read Twilight for months. I did, and was underwhelmed. But I took my kids to see it, and Boom! Robert Pattinson entered Stage Left. The whole Twiverse burst into colour and not long after, I discovered the world of fan fiction. I read everything I could find for about a year. Free stories!!! Then, I decided to take the risk of writing one of my own.

Amazingly, there was an audience for it.

Fan fiction is a wonderful way to train as a writer. Basically, you’re writing an old-fashioned serial novel and readers are glad to give you feedback on each chapter. If you’re fortunate, experienced editors are willing to train you, free of charge. As another plus, you meet other writers and you might even meet some professionals.

Why write someone else’s canon? Well, because we love the stories and characters and we have ideas of where we’d like to take them. Places the original author didn’t.

I read and review. A lot. About three years ago, I started paying the community back by editing for other new writers. Eighteen months ago, I was approached by a publisher to write an original novel. I wrote the manuscript, but they decided (after much debate) that a group of Italian-Canadian moms (age 45 to 60) wouldn’t use Facebook to match make their kids.

Um, that’s my age group. All my friends use Facebook. And I hate to tell you, but matchmaking’s not dead, even in Canada. Scary boo.

So, I’m going to start querying other publishers in about a week, once my kids’ birthdays have passed. I have to rewrite my synopsis and a new query letter before that.

This is an exciting life. I love mentoring, pre-reading and editing. It’s taken me nearly five years, but so would any education. And you can learn from any writer, even one who’s penning her first short story. You just have to be open to input. We all have lessons to learn.

I’m starting a new challenge in November: NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to write 50K in one month. I’ve never done NaNo before and it seems like a good way to chunk away at my next manuscript. I’m actually writing my original series out of order because the characters in Book Three just won’t stop yelling at me. I have 22K words of it, and I want to be at 75K by the end of November. Of course, real life happens and if I don’t get there, I know it will still happen.

crazy lemur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, who’s with me? Care to pick up your virtual pen for NaNo? Sign in, then look me up. I’m going to need your encouragement.