Jennifer Aniston, Britney Spears, and How to Make $1000

Last night I dreamed Jennifer Aniston was my best friend, and I was doing a photo shoot with Britney Spears. Britney refused to pose with me and stomped off to her dressing room--she thought she was better at posing than I was, and in the dream, I secretly agreed with her.

After I woke up, I realized this dream came straight from the headlines I glanced at while in line at the grocery store: Brad leaving Angelina! Brad and Jen: Together Again? Brit's Breakdown!

I don't buy fan magazines, but I do buy magazines I've published in or hope to publish in. Woman's World is one of them. I've sold romance, a feature article, and several story ideas to Woman's World. The romance for me is the most fun, and here's the best part: They pay you $1000 for it.

I'm not saying this is easy. I've read reports that WW receives more than 2400 manuscripts a month, so the odds are against you. You'd have a better chance writing a New York Times bestseller. (According to this site, the odds of writing a NYT bestseller are 220 to 1.) But there is something you can do to improve your odds--yes, here it comes, you know what I'm going to say: Study the magazine!

Take WW for example. After reading their romances for a while, I began to recognize a structure:

Within the first paragraph, we know if the protagonist is married, divorced, single, looking, or trying to stay out of the game. The changing event then occurs, and the rest of the story is the dance, the sparring, the flirtation, all of it building to a short climax/resolution.

You don't need to wrap up the ending for WW--a conclusive hint at the happily-ever-after is the typical ending and more realistic. Speaking of realistic, WW doesn't usually publish exotic settings or historicals. Pull something out of the ordinary and transform the moment. Hone your editing skills for this market; your story must come in at 1000 words.

Good luck!

Brian Regan, My Favorite Comedian

I recently caught Brian Regan's special "Brian Regan: Standing Up;" this guy is too funny. If you ever have the chance to see him live, don't pass it up.

We saw him at the Hard Rock Cafe a couple of years ago, and when he got to this bit, he pushed me to the brink of hilarity. Then he finished me off with this.

In other news, I received revision notes today. When I work on my stories, my chores get done in a fog. I go through my daily motions, but as I've said before, I'm really wherever my characters are. And so I've only just now remembered that I'm to bring a macaroni salad to the family get-together tomorrow. I must repair to the kitchen.

Airport and Flash

Today I have to drive my little mommy to the airport. I hate that we live 1300 miles apart.

One thing my mom does when she visits is she reads all the pieces I've written since the last time she visited. Earlier this year, I forced her to go to her hometown library and actually use a computer to view one of my stories online. Navigating the web was a complicated procedure for her, but she did it and I was proud of her.

I've had several pieces published online. As I get the permissions, I'll add the stories to this blog. Here's my flash fiction, "Manifest Destiny," published on Whim's Place.

Ice Cream, Sleep, and Good News

I was eating my nightly ice cream (Chocolate Trinity, half a cup, 180 calories) when it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps the nightly ice cream has something to do with the nightly insomnia. So I didn't have any last night and guess what? Another rotten night of sleep!

Yay for ice cream! It's not your fault, Chocolate Trinity, I have loved you ever since my grocery store stopped carrying Starbuck's Double Shot Chocolate Ice Cream. Yes, it's true, I love chocolate ice cream--dark, bittersweet, fudgy, OMG, does it get any better?

So my evenings are still good and my days have been, too; MG manuscript #2 has received another agent request and strong encouragement from others in the industry. I try to moderate my hope. I don't want to soar too high, just in case. I'm feeling good, but rejection can blindside you, so I try to keep myself on an even keel. (But still, I'm feeling hopeful--I can't help it! Shh!)

True Grit: Don't Mess with Mom

I roasted like a peanut Saturday, but it was worth it! People hauled away my stuff and I was $150 richer before we got rained out.

My mom is the true garage sale guru. She likes to dicker (or "bicker" as a friend of mine calls it). Though I can hold my own, my mom is a rock when it comes to negotiations. Don't even try to pay $5 for the plastic climbing set with a slide; Mom will hand your money back to you and make you ashamed at the same time.

My favorite exchange happened at a different garage sale we held a few years ago. An older man who looked liked Mr. Drucker from "Green Acres" brought up several blinds Mom had marked as a set for $10.

Mr. Drucker: Take two fifty for this?
Mom: I'll take seven.
Mr. Drucker: How about three--there's a spot on this one here.
Mom: Eight dollars.
Mr. Drucker: (Shakes head.) All right then, four.
Mom: Eight fifty.
Mr. Drucker: You're not doing this right.
Mom: Yes I am.
Mr Drucker: (Mouth opens, nothing comes out. He peels a five and two ones from his wallet.)

I bow to the master.

Rejection, Insomnia, and Garage Sale, Oh My!

Bummer drag! One of my romances came back to me today. Personal rejection, though; rejection doesn't get any better than that. The editor said she liked many of the story elements but one detail threw her off. She was right. Fortunately, that detail will be easy to change, and my romance will once again be traveling through the mail stream to a prospective new home.

Also in the mail was an eight page survey from the sleep specialist. Here are some of the questions I said yes to:

  • I have difficulty falling asleep.
  • When I awaken during the night, I am unable to fall back to sleep.
  • Is there a history of sleep problems in your family?
If you want to find me in a crowded setting, just start asking people, "Where is Purple Eye-Bags?"

One of the pages perfectly described my mom: You fall asleep doing the following: Sitting and reading. Watching TV. Sitting in a theatre. Sitting in a car. You're supposed to mark the ones that apply to you, but my mom would have to check them all.

I didn't have time to fill out the survey; I had to price more items for the garage sale. My gosh, where . . . why did I buy all this stuff? And will I get rid of it?

I'll let you know tomorrow.

My Manuscripts are Circulating!

I've got quite a few manuscripts out there right now:

2 literary short stories
1 mainstream story
2 romances
1 children's NF article
1 MG novel out by request to two agents
1 MG novel out by request to two agents and one editor
various queries and partials out on the two novels

The short stories are destined for markets that don't accept simultaneous submissions, so they've got a long road in front of them. Two other stories sit on my desk; they recently made a round trip, stopping briefly at literary journals, then taking the red-eye home. I need to research other journals for them. I hope they all find new homes.

In other news, my mom thinks I've priced my garage sale items too low! Expert advice, coming from her--she made more than $600 at her last garage sale. Guess I'll be bumping those numbers up today.

Garage Sale

Another rotten night of sleep. When will it end?

Today I will draft an important piece of text--the ad copy for my garage sale this Saturday. My mom, my sister and I are having the garage sale at my sister's. Can't have it here; we live in a gated community and we're not allowed to have garage sales, the exception being the community garage sale, one day a year. We were out of town this year and missed it.

Anyway, my sister has all kinds of beautiful home decorations, bedding (she's re-doing a room she just redid), etc. I will be contributing Thomas the Tank Engine stuff, Barbie, Mary-Kate and Ashley, Reader Rabbit, and Disney DVDs (like new). Yeah, I'm going to make some money.

I can't wait to get this junk out of my house.

Agent Blogs

Rachel Vater's blog (Lit Agent X) is back up! I checked in today and there's a new post. What a great blog to add to your daily reading. She often comments on queries she's reading, describing what works for her and what doesn't and she's not snarky at all. I'm glad to see she's settled in her new position and posting again.

Nathan Bransford--another great blog, lots of tips along with an insider's view of the industry.

The Rejecter. I like the name of this blog. Here's the subtext under the title:

I don't hate you. I just hate your query letter.

How could you not love that sense of humor?

BTW, I had a crummy night of sleep. Even when I did fall asleep, I kept waking up and looking at the clock. I hate that! Stupid insomnia!

So glad you could drop by!

It's summer.

I don't set my alarm clock and I stay up till the wee hours reading books. I compose query letters to agents and editors in my head, sometimes scrambling down to the computer to get it down perfectly, this brilliant flash that is now going to keep me up all night as I dream up the conflicts, the stakes, the climax--I'm almost tearing by this point, thinking what is going to happen to the MC I met only twenty minutes ago. And then, finally, the resolution weaves its way in.

Can I sleep? No. Now I must think of subplots.

Welcome to my world!
Danette Haworth