Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Life, the Universe, and Everything

Some days, all you can do is borrow from Douglas Adams.

Seven days in a row now, I’ve woken up and said YEAH IT’S TIME TO WRITE.

Seven days in a row now, the universe has laughed and conspired against me. I know, excuses, excuses. I’ve always said family comes first, and I’ve had an overdose of family this past week. I will next week too, and the week after. I can’t change that. What I can change is my approach. Get up, get ready, and go to work without letting anything intrude on those precious few hours before the rest of the west coast becomes active.

I have ideas. Big ideas. I’ve been good and haven’t touched my Pitch Wars manuscript since submitting it, but come Tuesday I’ll be working on it again one way or another. I can’t wait. I have some big ideas of my own, and will hopefully get at least some feedback from a potential mentor.

(Me: “I’m going to get into Pitch Wars!”
5 Seconds Later: “I’ll never make it into Pitch Wars.”)

In the meantime, I have a manuscript from one of my critique partners to finish reading, and some work on Chapter 1 of my YA novel to do for next month’s critique group. I’m working on three books in my mind. Luckily they’re all different enough so there’s no overlap, and I can only really work on one at a time.

(Unrelated to writing, yesterday would have been my dad’s birthday. I miss him. I always promised to let him know what agents were looking for in a query letter as soon as I found out. I intend to keep that promise.)


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Why I Entered #PitchWars

Some days it seems like pitch contests are a dime a dozen. I’ve entered a few, but I certainly don’t enter them all. First, that’s too crazy. I’d be doing nothing but entering twitter-based contests. Second, I would saturate the market with my manuscript, which isn’t something I care to do.

So why Pitch Wars?

– It’s a positive contest. There’s no trash-talking the submissions or queries, only positive reinforcement for all participants.
– It’s authors helping authors because they want to, not because there’s anything in it for them.
– Brenda Drake, who runs the contest, seems like a right fine person. I don’t know her, but I like her.
– My manuscript is finished and polished. Good timing on my part! I had a query letter and synopsis ready also.

I’m of the mind set that says nothing ventured, nothing gained. Obviously I like my manuscript and am hopeful other people will like it too. If not, I’m no worse off than I was before I entered. It’s only cost a few weeks of my life where I haven’t been able to query, and that’s okay.

I don’t have any idea whether I’ll make it into the next round. If I don’t, I’ll keep plugging away on my own and cheer on those who did get selected. The whole process is such a subjective thing. Getting to be a part of something this lovely is a treat all by itself.

Good luck to everyone who entered, everyone who’s got a book, everyone who didn’t enter, and everyone who’s querying. Here’s to success and friendship all around.


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Ready, Set… (Pitch Wars) Bio.

When my son was in third grade, one assignment was tell us about your mother. I didn’t know anything about it until I saw the school hallway decorated with a lot of lovely paeans to motherhood. I found mine — a mohawked stick figure dancing to music — with this caption:

my mom was a punk rocker

I was so proud! I still am.

Just as I claim on twitter, I’ve got an endless soundtrack in my brain. I’ve been around music my whole life, either as a musician or working with musicians or listening to music. I spent years as a crew member with all sorts of bands, doing everything from setup and tear-down to front of house and backstage security to running sound and light boards to managing the stage crew.

That it took me so long to write about a world I know well isn’t surprising. I’m a private person and never like to take credit for things I feel belong to other people. Road crews are invisible by design. They’re not supposed to take the spotlight away from the people on stage and for the most part, they don’t. That doesn’t mean crew members don’t have lives every bit as compelling as the people they support. That’s the side I’ve chosen to explore in my book.

Aside from road crew duties, I’ve worn a lot of hats. I’ve been an office drone, a QA engineer and manager, a technical writer, a technical & copy editor, an artist, a massage therapist, an author, and a pretty good critique partner. All of that pales in comparison to parenting my now 20-year-old, who proudly proclaimed in elementary school that his mom was a punk rocker.

I’m still all about the music. I’m hoping to work with someone who loves it as much as I do! I love concrit, feedback, revising, rewriting, and Oxford commas. I’m under no illusion that my work is the best it can be yet…which is why I’m looking for your help.

A few random notes:

  • I am gif-impaired (maybe you can help me with that), but I take pretty nice photographs. Here’s one.
  • IMG_3176a

  • Commentary and concrit on my work are two things I eat up like ice cream. I’m great at accepting feedback.
  • At one of her concerts, I was mistaken for Patti Smith.
  • I use astrology & Meyers-Briggs to help craft characters (Scorpio, ENFP, which makes me your most honest, biggest cheerleader).
  • Some things I like: urban grit, baseball, the ocean, surfing, traveling, learning new languages, nature, the unexpected, contrasts, challenges, long walks on the beach at sunset (no, really), and books that take me to worlds I’ve never imagined.
  • When I was little, my mom used to say as long as you learned from it, then it was a worthwhile experience. I agree. I’m all about the learning and growing, in writing and everywhere else in life.
  • I can’t wait to meet you. All of you, whoever’s reading. Please stop by and say hi. It’ll make my day.

A huge thank you to Chris Keelty for running the PitchWars Blog Hop.


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How about that.

For the first time since my dad passed away, I was able to do some writing. Only about 1000 words, but it’s a start.

I’m trying not to let my writing brain get too scattered. I’ve got two works in progress, one YA & one NA/Adult. Before he died, I promised Dad I’d let him know what agents these days are looking for as soon as I found out. I’m holding myself to that promise and will get back to querying once I’m satisfied with my NA/A word count.

How are all of you?


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Criticism vs. Constructive Criticism

Concrit. Everyone wants it, everyone asks for it. Providing constructive criticism shouldn’t be that hard. I was taught if I can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all. While that’s generally a good motto, it doesn’t mean we can’t be truthful.

As with most things, being truthful comes with a caveat. If someone asks for unvarnished truth, fire away. If they don’t ask, it’s generally far kinder to provide constructive criticism. What is concrit? It’s being honest about the flaws while also applauding the things done well.

I read a lot of manuscripts. I used to edit professionally. It’s never difficult to applaud a great turn of phrase but still correct grammatical errors. Neither is it hard to give honest feedback highlighting both what didn’t work and what did work. I’ve never met most of the people who trust me to give feedback on their work, but that doesn’t give me carte blanche to be cruel simply because I might not have a face to go with the name.

The trend right now seems to be blunt regardless of the cost. I realize that the Internet is a big place filled with a lot of people, and when we don’t know those people it’s easy to forget that every writer has worked hard on their story and believes it’s something to be proud of. It can also be tough to remember that there are actual people behind the names on pages, and those people have feelings, wishes, dreams, good days, bad days. Why is it acceptable to focus solely on tearing them down without offering a hand to help them stand again? This happens in more areas besides editing, although that’s where I’ve noticed it most of late.

The silver lining is still there, though: when I see an editor behaving like an entitled ass online, I know not to hire or recommend them. Writers go to editors for help, not for wholesale mud-flinging. I’ve got my list going of people whose behavior has been elitist and reprehensible. To those people, I provide this piece of constructive critcism: you’ve saved me the trouble of ever having to consider working with you.

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