Monday, May 13, 2013

Interview with ANGI NO E!

My first author interview! I really would love to start spotlighting the wonderful writers both newly pubbed and not yet pubbed on a regular basis. I figured everyone of us can be both teacher and student, sharing our knowledge with others while we soak in their wisdom at the same time.

So, with that idea in my mind I asked the wonderful Angi Black aka Irene Rose to answer a few writing questions. I first met her as we began going back and forth writing while tweeting. It was the early manifestations of what is now a phenomenon: #writeclub. You can follow the hashtag or follow @FriNightWrites on twitter. Angi also happens to be one of the time keepers for Write Club. Now we have an amazing friendship and she is someone who is not just someone I tweet with, but someone who's critique and feedback has become important to me. She's amazing and so real and I am super glad to have her featured here on my blog. So without any further ado...

Meet Angi Black:

Tell our readers a little about you.
I'm Angi. Hi! And I dance, I sing, I act, I write. I teach at a performing arts school and holy cow, I'm a Renaissance woman. Heh. Who knew? I also spend far too much time solidifying my hippie ways greening up the Earth and volunteering.

My background is that I've been in theater since I was a wee tyke. I'm not Irish. I don't where the came from. Anywho, I have always written. Since I can remember, I've been that girl with a notebook and pen, jotting stuff down. I journaled and wrote short stories, usually romance with naughty bits. :) But I love mysteries too. I'm just not as good at writing them. Yet.

For fun - I write. LOL What a horrible answer. I dance and have singing parties at my house during the day. I love movies and select TV shows. But my number one thing to do for fun is travel. I love to travel and roadtrip and all the things like that.

Also - I'm southern, so if you come to my house I will feed you. Plan accordingly.

(I am on my way. No. Seriously. Packing my bags as we speak.)

What was the first thing you ever wrote?
Like ever? Well, in elementary school I wrote a book called 'What's in the Trunk?' I had to bind it and illustrate it too. It was a school wide contest, and I won! So far it's my only one-run publication.

 Have you ever gone back to it?

No, I haven't ever revisited it.
But if you mean real books, the first thing I ever finished was LOVE IN REAL LIFE. I have gone back to it. I can't leave it alone. it's my book baby and I'm planning a series around it as we speak.

What is your preferred genre to write? Read?
I love to write about kisses. I love first kisses and ...other things. I love the smexy times. But about that, I love the interaction of relationships, the little things that happen when you know someone. Like the first time someone remembers how you take your coffee. That's a big moment.
I love to read - well, lots of things. I love YA, NA, Adult. I love contemporary to paranormal and back again. My favorite two books are The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice and The Great Gatsby. My tastes vary, but what I love are the characters. I want to fall in love and make a new friend. I want my heart broken and someone who makes me believe in love. I'm a very greedy reader, I need to be moved.

What inspires you? Where do you find your ideas for your writing?

Music is my number one inspiration. But really, the day to day stuff does too. I try to guess people's backstory or even in my own life, what if I had just made one different choice. BUt the number one thing that inspires me is the chance to be someone I'm not. It's the same thing with theater and dance. I can write about anything I want and that character takes on a life of her, or his, own. and since there's a bit of me in each character, a little piece of me gets to become them. And I love that so much.

Walk the readers through your writing process.
I used to pants everything. Just sit down and write. And it works. I'm a fast drafter. But for Nano last year, I plotted for the first time. Holy cow. It worked so well. I had to go back and fill in after, but the story came together so much better for me. I've plotted out my book since and they feel much more coherent.
I still have an affinity for pantsing though. So through the week, I work on my plotted manuscripts. But during Writeclub on Fridays, I pull out one of my pantsed projects and go to town. It keeps my mind fresh and makes it not get dreary.
The other thing about my writing process is that I write everyday. I try to write 1000 words everyday. Even if they're complete crap, I at least did some writing. It never leaves me a time when I think, oh god, it's been a week. I'll never get back to it now. If I've done a little bit, it keeps me moving.

Have you ever gotten "stuck" in your WIP? (I am currently going through this) What has helped get the writing flowing again?
Oh yeah. I wrote a historical romance last year and there is a very big, dramatic scene at the end. I had the worst time getting to it. It sat open for two months. I wrote another entire MS in the meantime. Finally, I just knew I had to finish it. And the first draft was complete trash. I mean the ending was unbelievably bad. She did this. Then this happened. His reaction was this. Just terrible, all passive.
But when I went back to revise and read through, it was done and the inspiration came. I was able to fix it and it's actually my favorite part of the book now.
My advice, just push through. Most artists start with a sketch and and the color later. There's no reason writing can't be any different.

If you became the next JK Rowling, how would your life change? How would it stay the same?
Oh, it would change a lot. First, people would say - you write for kids??? Second - monetarily, my kids would get to have a different life. I would have a different life. I would travel more and my house would get the love it needs. Oh, and I'd have a housekeeper! All win.

(And build a huge writer's retreat in her backyard where all of her writer friends would be invited and hang out. Ok, she didn't actually SAY that, but I am pretty certain she was thinking it. I got that vibe anyway.)
The ways it wouldn't change is that I would still teach dance for basically no money. I would still volunteer. I would still write and spend inordinate amounts of time on Twitter with my writing family. I'm me. I worked had to figure out who I am, I don't see any reason that part of me would change, no matter how much money is in the bank.
Oh, but I would only shop for clothes at ModCloth.

What has been your favorite character to write? Why?
My favorite character to write has, that's a hard one. I think it's the male MC in my NA book from my pen name. His name is River and I simply adore him. He's brainy and beautiful but completely awkward. But even with all that, he tends to be a bit smug. He's witty and completely googly in love with Ellie. He's sensitive but still a man. Know what I mean? (oh yes....yes...I do)
He's a tie with the LI in my book SUGAR-COATED DECEIT, Jason. He's is so confident and cocky, but a good guy. He's also sexy as hell and knows exactly what he wants. I wish I had his confidence. He was so much fun to write because I knew he was bold, but still, the things he said sometimes surprised even me. And I think those are the best kind of characters.

(I can attest that Jason is definately the best kind of character. You want to read this book. You just DO! And you will need to keep a fan nearby. TRUST ME!)

Thanks for interviewing me, Carey. I feel like I rambled and I sound a bit crazy, but it was my first interview. :)
xo, Ang

You did a fantastic job! It was so fun getting to know you a bit more. You are a doll! Love you. *muah*

Be sure to follow Angi on Twitter and read her fabulous blog here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

You Just Keep Me Hanging On...

Hi all. It has been a while. For many things. For my writing. For my inspiration. For my blog. All of it. Even my tweets have become less writing centered and more life focused. There’s a good reason for that. Because right now, life is taking more center stage right now. Yeah, life. What can I say? She’s a spotlight hog. Anyway, even though she is doing her damnedest to throw every conceivable object my way, I am sitting here dodging them like someone moving from left and right hooks. Hopefully, I can keep up before I get a nasty shiner.

And these blows are not just coming for me personally. But in my writing as well. I have really tried to be inspired to write. I am standing in the middle of Inspiration Avenue trying to get hit by anything at all. At this point, even bird poop would be something. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have them. Lots of them. It is that I simply have no desire to write. And I think it has a great deal to do with the fact that my MS, the one I am currently querying, has reached a stalemate.

I am sitting on two full requests (for over a month now) and just sent out a partial. And I think it has me stuck because I don’t want to move on. Because I love that story so much. I believe in that story. And dammit, every single time someone reads it, they all say the same thing…”This is really good. This will get published.” And yet, no agents seem to agree.

Every time I try to explain my situation and my frustrations, people always ask the same things.  First, many repped writers regale me with stories about how they queried x amount of agents (usually way less than what I have) and how they tried x amount of months. Then I hear about pubbed authors like JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer (who both were flukes so they are really bad comparisons) and people say “They queried 13-16 publishers (respectively) until their yes. Then I want to laugh. Are you kidding? Like 15 queries is a lot? That’s comparable to a lottery winner saying I bought fifteen tickets and won a kajillion dollars…so you buy 15 tickets and you could win too. 15 is NOT THAT MANY. I know they are trying to be helpful and tell me how long it took them, but it sometimes makes me feel worse. And that’s not what either one of us want. Then come the inevitable questions.

 Are you querying agents?

 How long have you been trying?

 How many have you queried?

Have you had any requests?

How many?

Do they give you feedback?

Here are those answers.

                       67 queries (plus some in contests/online crit)

43 rejections

18 requests (7 partials to fulls)

24 no response

That is a percentage of about 20-24% request rate. Which is pretty damn good. So, saying that there is no interest is not the issue. Many would argue that if you sent out that many queries and you haven’t been picked up or that you aren’t getting much feedback, regroup and re-read because there may be an issue. But with a 20%, which is a great request rate, and I have been getting feedback. And it has pretty much said that the writing is strong and they enjoyed reading the story, it just wasn’t something they LOVED. And there really is nothing to do about that. It isn’t a case of needing an R&R to fix something. It’s that for whatever reason, they are just not excited enough to rep it.

The feedback is similar: couldn’t connect, don’t love it enough, sweet but I’ve seen it before, funny but not what I am looking for.

And that's it. Nothing much more than. At least if there was something horrible and they told me I could fix it. I can’t fix anything because there is really nothing to fix. Which should feel good, but makes me feel awful.

And what is worse is that I read agents blogs, tweets, etc and most say the same thing. If it is good enough, if they love it enough and believe in it enough, they will offer. And no one does. So it leaves me in this strange place.

Do I keep writing, even when it is quite possible that all my ideas are plain and simple. Virtual vanilla on a page? Or do I leave the writing to those that have the million trillion ideas oozing from their pores. Thing is, I write what I love. And what I love is the everyday. I grew up watching romantic comedies and sweet contemporary movies with witty sarcasm and a dose of sugar. So that’s what I enjoy writing. Love and romance and real women with the pressures of every day societal expectations thrown on them. I love exploring the question of “What does it mean to be a woman today?” My writing is cynical because I am a touch cynical. But it has hope, because I have a lot of that too. But that isn’t exactly “cutting edge”.

I love writing romance because secretly, I hope one day I will have a romance like my characters do. I write the stories that I hope will happen to me, and women like me, one day. And maybe that’s what I’m doing wrong. Maybe romance isn’t enough anymore.

Maybe it has to have bondage or vampires or evil villains plotting to kill all humans. Or sad stories that end in tragedy. Or witches. Or superheroes. Or steampunk. Or zombies. Dear Lord I hate zombies.

I don’t know. But it makes me sad every time I think about it. My poor book. My heart in 85 thousand words. Never to really be seen. My voice never really to be heard.

And so, when I sit down to write, instead of the inspiration of a new story, my heart hangs heavy remembering the story that may never see the light of day. To never grace a bookstore shelf.

And people will say self-publish. And I consider it. Really, I am. But there’s something in me that says, “If it isn’t good enough to be picked up by people who really know this business, and really know what they are doing, then I need to accept that and move on.

I am pretty sure this is why I am stuck. This is where my head is at. Rejection is tough. Whether it was that time I tried out for Arsenic and Old Lace, auditioned for the lead part in choir, asking the cute guy I crushed on forever to prom, or asking an agent to read and love your story.

At the end of it all, I will keep trying. Because that is what is in my nature to do. But sometimes, I just want to feel the pain of it all. I need to. Because without that pain, I wouldn’t understand how amazing good feels.
And I really pray, someday, pertaining to my writing, good and I will meet. And we'll have coffee. And she'll stay awhile. We will see...