Friday, August 15, 2014

Pitch Wars Mentee Blog Hop!

In this, another year of Doing Things, I'm participating in Brenda Drake's fabulous Pitch Wars event. I've heard about it, seen the #PitMad on Twitter for ages now, and figured I might as well join, since my MS is ready for the slush pile.

In this post, I am to biographically state my being, so here goes!

I'm Summer. I'm 28, married, and have four mostly-wonderful pets (3 cats, 1 dog.)

Monty and me, being sweet.
I'm from Georgia, mostly. The parts that count anyway, such as the sweet tea gene, taste bud for grits, and the proper use of "y'all" and "all y'all."

I did the English major thing out of high school, and even earned myself a nice big piece of paper from the University of Georgia that proves it.

Took me about three seconds to decide I didn't want to teach, didn't want to go to law school... didn't want to do anything with that degree, really, except read and horde books. And write. But that's been going on since I was 9.

Eventually, I went back to nursing school. Now I'm a registered nurse at a Top 100 hospital in the nation, where I work on a high acuity, frequently-depressing surgical unit.

I love it. I'm also in graduate school, working toward my Master of Science in Nursing for Nursing Education. Guess I'm going to be a teacher after all.

I love starting IVs! And I'm pretty darn good at it.

I started writing when I was 9, the tragic love story of a 14 year old girl. After that, I hit science fiction and fantasy and never really came out again. Some of my earliest memories revolve around watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and the X-Men cartoon. Good memories, right?

I've embraced uber-geekiness my whole life. During my formative tween years, I was heavily involved in a Star Trek play-by-email RPG. I was always the Chief Medical Offer---makes sense now, huh? I go to Dragon*Con whenever I can, my Star Trek trivia knowledge is fierce, and I have two autographed pictures from LeVar Burton and John DeLancie.

Me and Q, baby!
When I'm not working or doing grad school stuff (which is rare), I spend my time either writing or running. I'm a trail runner, adventure racer, and half-marathoner!

I tweet (@summerbp), mostly about being a nurse and nurse stuff, because the Twitter nursing community is hilarious and sage. But I'm always up for some writer interaction!

I'm excited to do the Pitch Wars thang this year, and wish everyone the best of success!

Check out the other mentees on Dannie Morin's blog!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Change Will Do You Good

Good things have happened in the last 6 weeks or so since we have visited.

1. I did get a new job! This past week was the beginning of orientation at the new hospital. I'm thrilled at this development in my career and life. I wasn't able to get a job in the CVICU, but there's time for that in the future. I'll be working on the surgical unit, taking care of folks right before and right after the surgeries that change their lives. This floor specializes in bariatric weight loss surgery and late-stage ovarian cancer surgeries. I'm going back to night shift, but I get to make my own schedule. And the commute is only 15 minutes! Fifteen GLORIOUS MINUTES!

2. I moved my office. Hubby and I have shared office space for the 9 years we've been together, but I finally took over the small sunroom off the living room. Life isn't perfect, so I'm also sharing the office with the cats' litterboxes, but I have a clever solution for minimizing distress for all parties involved.

3. Percolating a new book. My latest is in the hands of final beta readers/critique partners. Then I have to decide what the heck I'm going to do with it.

4. I had surgery! At the end of May, I had an urgent choleycystectomy (gallbladder removal.) It was my first surgery, and I learned that I'm allergic to morphine and Dilaudid isn't my friend. It's definitely made me a better nurse for those who also have laparascopic surgeries, though. I was sore for a solid week (and actually interviewed for my new job 2 days after I went under the knife.) I'm all better now. The last thing to come back is my running stamina, and it's getting there too...

Hope all you Americans had a lovely Independence Day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Good Vibrations

This past weekend, Hubby and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We went to this famous semi-local restaurant/guest house for the weekend.

1. Don't call an old farmhouse from the 30s with no central heat, the smell of mildew in the air, and one bathroom so tiny you can't turn around inside it a chalet. Also: mega murder-house vibes.

Fortunately, Hubby was able to get us accommodated in one of the regular inn rooms, which did not have murder-house vibes. Also, we could turn around in the bathroom.

2. Southern food is great. I love it. However, it would be nice to have a few options that aren't covered in casserole, cheese, or generally fried.

Mega-expensive dinner that we barely touched---> acute gastroenteritis. Evening 1: ruined.

Eventually, we recovered enough to go for a walk around the grounds. The ground are very pretty, I'll give them that.

3. Don't expect breakfast to be any better.
It wasn't.

The trip was, however, salvaged by an epic game of DC Comics Deck Builder, in which we mixed both games into one ultimate showdown. (I lost.) Also, on Day 2, we went to a very nice country club in the mountains and had a phenomenal massage. Before that, we hiked by the Coleman River and it was lovely.

Vacations for us are always hit and miss. Maybe one day we'll have a win-win-win, and we won't know what to do with ourselves.

All of this vacationing gave me a lot of time to think. I worked on the Friday before we left, and it was... Well, it was the worst day I've ever had at my job. The only thing that made it not as worst as possible was the fact that no one coded on us.

So, I came home Friday night and finally did was Hubby has been pestering me to do for a while: I applied to a new job.

I need some good vibrations out there. I actually applied to 3 listings in the same hospital, but the one I really want is in the cardiovascular intensive care unit. This hospital is a Level II trauma center now, and totally awesome, so it would be a great move for me. Plus, it's actually in the town where I live, so no more 40-mile commute...

Carry on!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Dusty In Here.

Hey blog. Feeling neglected? It's okay. You'll get over it.

I thought I'd keep on the roll of the every-four-months blog post. Because, why not?

Things are good. I've been an RN for almost a year now, shy of a few weeks. It's pretty awesome, though it consumes 99% of my life.

Highlights are the patient whom I bonded with over urban fantasy novels, all the nursing students I've worked with, the preceptoring I've done, and all the shit I've learned.

I'm getting a promotion in May. I'll be the charge nurse on one rotation. Scary, exciting, good opportunity.

I'm through my first semester of grad school. I'm in the Nurse Educator program now. Turns out I was supposed to be a teacher--just not an English teacher! Between grad school and work, my life is very, very boring and all about nursing, all the time.

I write maybe once every 2-3 weeks. Nonetheless, I'm almost done on my last revision of The Book. The book that still needs a title.

Health is better. Veganism suits me, I'm running regularly again, and I only twist my ankles every other day at work. I fell trying to get into the house from the garage two days ago, and I lay on the concrete ground thinking, "this is what it's like to be old."

I'm going to have to change the blog name soon...

Oh, did I mention I got a new house? It snowed on us in Georgia. A LOT. I got stuck at the hospital for days....

But the dog loved it!

Playing with Dog Dad. Total snow accumulation was about 9 inches.

And that, webby friends, is that. Life is monotonous, but good. It's that time when you talk to someone every six months and can genuinely say, "Nothing has changed."

And that ain't so bad.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Auld Acquaintance


Quite the year.

I worked on December 31st. We had 4 codes in my 12 hour shift. The night before, 2. The day before, 3. The day before that, 5.

Not sure what that means. Maybe it's a new moon/full moon. Maybe people want to die at the end of the year? Probably it's nothing, but it gives me a strange feeling going into the new year.

I became a nurse in 2013. There's a magnificent road ahead of me, but I have already come incredibly far. Sadly, at the expense of many other things. Some of those things I'm slowly regaining, but some of them I'm afraid will be changed forever.

I'm a bad internet friend. I can't even apologize for that, really. My personal and professional life is very fulfilling. I still care, I still think about, and I still Facebook. Not sure I can do much more.

I bought a new house. I'm a landlord now.

I start graduate school in 5 days.

I only wrote one novel, and I still haven't finished editing/polishing it. Not sure when/if I'll be able to, but I want to try.

My running suffered greatly, as did my health. That is changing thanks to switching back to day shift from nights.

I don't know. 2013 was a fast year for me. No one close to me died, which is more than I can say for the two years before that. But I saw more death than I ever have, and I've come to believe in some things I never thought I would.

2014 has new things in store for me professionally, personally, and financially. I'm not going to do resolutions this year. I don't need a new date to change.

Somewhat gloomily,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That NaNo Time of Year

And with it brings everyone's favorite stalking thread: Show Your Space

So I am. Here's where the last two books have happened:

The office. 
 I share my office with hubby, whose desk is off to the right. I just noticed that my cable situation seems to be out of control. I should probably bind all that up. Or not.

The assistant. 
Whose dog sleeps on two beds at once? My dog. The more pillows, the better...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Random Things I've Learned About Writing

That's right, a post not about being a nurse! My needles and nitrile gloves are safely put away for this one.

Right now I'm doing revisions/edits on my sixth novel. I've also been pretty sick recently, and also trying to keep myself on a less slingshot schedule, which equals me awake at night, thinking deep thoughts and exploring the bowels of the internet.

I'm not an expert at writing. I don't think anyone is, truly. We all hack it out the best we can, learn from our mistakes, glean information from others, and try to cram it all into our little addled writer-brains so the next glut of word vomit might be slightly more palatable than the last time. Like throwing up mashed potatoes instead of Taco Bell*.

Here are some things I've figured out:

1) You can finish a novel. It's not easy. It takes mountains of faith in yourself, in the process. Dedication, determination, and most of all, time. From the day I started penning (literally penning--I didn't start writing on a computer until much later) "stories," it was 15 years until I finished my first novel. Guess what? That was three years ago. Since then, I've written 5 more. That's almost 2 novels per year, including while I was in nursing school and also my first year as a nurse. Which leads to...

2) It gets easier with practice. Savor the feeling of finishing your first novel. You won't ever capture that same feeling. I didn't, anyway. When I finished the second, I was more like, "well, duh." The reactions have dulled for each subsequent book. But the "writing of a novel" is no longer a mythical beast. It's a given. You know that, like a math problem, if you add x and y (words and time), you will = novel.
    Since I finished my first novel, I have only given up on one since then. And it was a NaNoWriMo project, so I don't really count it.
    The more you write, the more you learn about yourself. You learn your process. You learn how much time you have to spend lying on your office floor with your feet propped on the wall, rubbing your dog's ears, to untangle a plot problem. You also may learn that the fastest way to end writer's block is to shave your legs (or maybe that's just me). You get a feel for the cadence of your own voice. For instance, once I'm about 10-15k into an idea, I already have a rough forecast for the completed wordcount. So far, I've been within 2-5k of that projection.
   What's good about this is that you can therefore accurately plan your writing schedule. Say you can, 99% of the time, write 2-3k in one sitting of a novelling day. Well, because you know your usual style of plotting and pacing, you know that 2-3k is going to be, roughly, one chapter. If you can devote 3 days per week to that writing, and you estimate your novel is going to come in around 90k, that's roughly 3 months, give or take some extra writing flurry days as you near the end.

3) At various points in your current project, you are going to feel like a genius and a hack. And honestly, as long as you can be objective and you have extra eyes reading your MS who are also objective--and you listen to their feedback--it's okay to spend more time feeling like a genius than a hack. There's plenty of time to feel like a hack. You'll probably feel like a hack for the entirety of your writing career, at some point or another. I feel like a pretend nurse at my job all the time, and I have the degree, the license, and the letters after my name to prove otherwise. Feeling like a hack is human nature. When do you ever "feel" like an adult? You don't. Simple enough.

4) The time to throw yourself off your own pedestal is during revisions. You may be fortunate enough to ejaculate decent rough drafts. Good for you. Pat yourself on your back, then go ahead and use a little extra force to throw yourself into the dirt. Dirt is where you belong. Because now is the time for gritty. Repeat after me: everything can be changed and probably should. Okay, so that's some hyperbole. Maybe you're a talented plotter, and truth be told, your first draft is only as holey as baby swiss instead of a fishnet stocking. Congratulations. Everyone has a special talent as a writer. Believe it. The point of revision is to look past your special talent at all the stuff you're not so special at. That's where the work comes in. That's where you need to really sweat. If you're lucky enough to have someone in your life who has a real brain for plots, use them. It's going to hurt. Believe me, it's going to hurt. Especially if that someone happens to be your spouse. But guess what? They're objective. They're smart. And they didn't write the thing, so they couldn't care less if you meticulously crafted that one sentence that throws the entire plot on its ear. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Listen. And if you are married to that person, it's okay to occasionally remind them that hey, you are married and hey, it's okay if you wanna sometimes maybe say some nice stuff too, okay? Go ahead and work on your dedication, and make sure that person, whomever they may be, is the star. You may be capable of solving many of your own problems, but chances are you wouldn't have had some of those problems in the first place if you could solve them on your own. Know what I'm saying?

5) Research agents with care. I mean this in two ways. 1) the obvious. Don't throw your query to the wind. More important, 2) Don't put the cart ahead of the horse. In this case, don't put the agent ahead of the novel. It's easy, and very tempting, to get carried away when you're somewhere around the 75% complete stage. You may think that's a good time to start grooming your agent list, making your fancy Excel spreadsheets, and stalking their Twitter feeds. And sure, doing this in moderation is fine. You're excited about your book. It's only natural to let yourself daydream, because at this point that is what you are doing. Your book is not ready. 75 percent? NOT ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. In nursing school, 75% is a failure. Would you want your surgeon to repair only 75% of your abdominal aortic aneurysm? Of course not. So why would you want to believe that your 75% book is ready to be seen by the world?
   This is the hardest part. Writing the book was not the hardest part. Revising is not the hardest part.
   The hardest part is being honest with yourself about your book's readiness. A lot is objective. The most important part is subjective. And we, as greedy writers with shiny book covers in our eyes, are more biased on our books than pretty much anything else in the world. And that's a good thing. If you don't think your book is the most shiny, beautiful dadgum manuscript to ever wend its way into the querysphere, then chances are things may not end so well for you.
   Don't be premature.

   Read all the archives of Query Shark. Seriously. It won't take very long, if you're a dedicated stalker of information. Absorb the advice. Go elsewhere on the internet and do the same. Do all of this after your book is "finished." Maybe while it's in the hands of beta readers/critique partners. That's a pretty good time. Even better, do it after you've revised it from their feedback, after you've given it the spitshine and are rabid to begain to query. Chances are, you'll get lots of good advice in your internet searching that not only applies to your query letter, but applies to your MS too. Nothing is worse than hitting send, then going "oh wait!"

    This is a long blog post. None of this advice is new. And most of it is aimed directly in the mirror. Especially the last bits.

   Go forth, fellow writers. And get a cat.

* This disgusting metaphor brought to you by my Thursday night. Except it was Taco Bell.