Cheryl Angst, Writer

Writer of strange tales – because no one ever accused me of being normal.

NaNo Madness 2013 November 1, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cheryl Angst @ 7:47 pm
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Well, it’s November 1st, 2013, and you know what that means…

No, it does NOT mean I am growing a moustache.

It means I am embarking on an insane mission with over a million other crazy people around the globe to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s not impossible – I’ve done it before – but it’s no mean feat either. After all, it’s not unreasonable to write 1,667 words in a day (I remember a few university courses where I procrastinated and left my 1,500-word essays for the night before they were due), but it’s a little more daunting when you have to write 1,667 words EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.

I’m pumped and looking forward to tackling my next project. Because, seriously, who wouldn’t want to write/read a book about a girl who falls in love with a boy who believes he’s been cursed by a witch and is destined to die?

Cheers!

 

Oh, and don’t forget to pop over to JukePop Serials and vote for the sequel to The Firestorm Conspiracy! Chapter two is coming out later this weekend, and you totally don’t want to miss out…

https://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/1283

 

Writing News October 31, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cheryl Angst @ 9:19 pm
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I spent last weekend at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, and it was amazing. I am going to babble at you about all the wondrous things I saw, heard, learned, and participated in at some point.

However, tonight is not that point.

Why? You might ask.

Well, it’s because I need to tell you about my exciting writing news: the sequel my first novel, The Firestorm Conspiracy, has been accepted for publication as an e-serial. The next installment is called The Firestorm Betrayal, and it pits Captain John Thompson and his crew against a very vicious band of interstellar pirates.

Oh, and it’s got quite a romantic subplot for those of you who enjoy those… ;)

I’m really excited about this for several reasons. The biggest one is that the format allows everyone to read my book for free AND comment on each chapter as it’s released. I’m totally psyched to be able to write a novel where reader feedback can and will influence the shape and progress of the story. I think it’s a hugely intimate experience that, up till now, has only really been available on fanfic sites.

The second reason is: I am being paid for my work. I love writing. I doubt I will ever stop. However, I would one day like to be able to work part time and earn enough from my books to afford to do so. My current writing goal is to be able to pay the cable bill, and since I am averaging $0.99 a month in royalties, I’ve got a long way to go! (But I’m totally up for the challenge!)

However, I am only being paid for the first chapter of this novel. After that, the work has to stand on its own to make it into the paying categories (top 30 books on the site). You get one vote per chapter and, trust me, every vote counts.

https://www.jukepopserials.com/home/read/1283

If you can, please vote. Comment too! I’d love to take this writing journey with each and every one of you, and I’m genuinely curious to see how the reader feedback dynamic works with e-serials!

 

 

Change Is Hard. Good, But Hard. September 23, 2013

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 9:49 pm
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There was a time–it seems like forever ago, and just yesterday–when my first agent contacted me to say she was leaving the industry. We’d been on submission with a novel for many, many months with no luck, so it wasn’t that hard to say, “Let’s pull it from consideration and I’ll use my latest WIP to try to find a new agent.”

(That sounds simple and painless, but trust me – losing my agent after not selling my book rattled me more than even I knew at the time.)

I was fortunate that I’d been following the tried and true advice for any author on submission: keep writing.

So, when it came time to seek new representation, I had a shiny new manuscript to show off. And you know what? I had fun querying again. Maybe there’s something wrong with me (okay, I *know* there are many things wrong with me, but this is different), but I actually enjoy the querying process. Seriously. It’s fun.

Sick, right?

I didn’t have to query very long before I found an adorable agent at a fabulous agency. She and I clicked from the start, and I felt safe and secure in my writing space (or so I thought – remember how I said the first loss shook me up…). We did several rounds of revisions on my novel and then, fingers crossed, we went on submission.

Guess what.

The book didn’t sell in the first round.

We made some revisions based on feedback from the first round and went back out.

It didn’t sell.

We tried a third time. We let the editors in the third round look at it for a *really* long time. (By long time, I mean some of them have had the ms for over a year now…)

During this last round, things at work got stressful and the rain and darkness of winter didn’t help, and I basically became a non-writing mess. I couldn’t seem to settle on a project no matter how hard I tried. So, for over a year I ignored the cardinal rule of “keep writing.”

This is an important rule, folks.

Not only does it help keep you sane (or sane-ish), it means you’ve got a potential ace in your pocket if things go unexpectedly south. And for me, last week things went unexpectedly not north.

You see–and here is where the change that is not easy, but not bad comes in–last week my agent contacted me to let me know she’s leaving the industry.

I am extremely happy for her. I think she’s found a job that will challenge her and keep her excited about work for a long time. In fact, if she were just a friend instead of a business partner, I’d be all over throwing her a party because I think it’s so absolutely awesome. I really do.

But…

But for me, the author, this is not so great news. We’re going to give the last round of editors one last shot at my manuscript and if no one bites we’re pulling it from consideration. (This sounds an awful lot like what happened with my first agent.) However, here’s where the story differs: this time, I didn’t keep writing.

I don’t have a nice, shiny new manuscript to woo a new agent with. In fact, I’ve got nothing except a history of books that never sold. This is not a great place to be when one is used to the comfort of having an agent.

Is this the end of the world?

Is this a major setback that I’ll never recover from?

Hardly.

You see, as much as my fragile author-ego is smarting from the thought of being un-agented again, it really doesn’t change my day-to-day writing. Think about it, my agent was basically twiddling her thumbs with me while I dithered around and produced nothing more than random scribbles and failed starts, so it’s not like I was giving her much to do on my behalf. What’s the difference between having an agent and not having an agent when you don’t have a manuscript?

Not much.

My first thoughts were, “OMG, how am I going to find an agent now?” and I started scrounging for ‘things’ that might tempt an agent to take a chance on me even though I don’t have a novel to sub. I figured if I could find an agent right away, it would be like nothing had changed. Then I realized that isn’t fair to the agents I wanted to query. They don’t get paid until I do, so where is it right for me to ask them to give up their time when I have nothing concrete to offer in return?

Besides, I kind of also realized that my gut reaction to wanting to find an agent ASAP was motivated by a fear of not being able to find one when my next ms is complete. When I realized this, I realized how stupid my gut reaction was. Come on, I said to myself, you’ve landed and agent not once, but twice. You can write, and you can write well. The fact I wanted to land another agent without writing another book is sort of like saying I don’t think I can write another publishable story.

Gee, now that’s a great selling point, eh?

“Dear Agent: I’m feeling very insecure because my last two novels haven’t sold and I’ve lost two agents in that time. Please take me on as a client so I can feel better about myself even though I have nothing to offer you except a big bag of authorly angst. Sincerely, Cheryl.”

Losing an agent sucks. Not selling a book you love sucks.

Letting it get to you not only sucks, but it comes back to bite you when things get tough down the line.

I spoke with my agent today and she helped me see a few things. I also spoke with a dear friend who let me ramble on and off the path until the things I’d started to see with my agent became clear.

I am personally sad to be saying good-bye to my agent. She is a wonderful person who always looked out for my best interests and always seemed to know when I needed a nudge and when I needed space. She was the right person to be in my writing life at the right time.

I am also excited to be striking out on my own again, as it were. I went into writing with a “my game, my rules” attitude and I let rejection and publishing woes change me. Now that no one’s waiting for me to finish a novel, in fact no one but me really cares if I finish another book, I have the freedom to write what I want – for me. (Which, coincidentally, is exactly what every agent out there will tell you you’re supposed to do.)

 

 

Brushing Off the Dust September 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cheryl Angst @ 9:40 pm
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*cough* *cough*

Waves arms through billowing dust.

“Is anyone still out there?”

*crickets*

Well, as the title of this post suggests, I am planning on actually posting here on a regular basis again. Yipee!

In addition, I am also brushing the dust off my writing life. I seem to have let it wither and grow stagnant this past year (okay, 18 months, but who’s counting) and I’m not cool with that. I’ve put a few things in place over the summer to help revitalize things.

1) I read, and read, and read, and read. Not just books on writing, but really awesome books in general. I don’t think there’s any better way to find inspiration!

2) I plotted out an outline for a contest I want to enter this fall. If you’re not aware of it, Jim Henson Co. and a major publishing house have teamed up to search for someone to write the first novel in a YA series of prequels to The Dark Crystal. Gelflings FTW!

3) I broke down and admitted I can’t write from the hip. I’m not a pantser. So, when I started writing a new novel in the spring and I told myself I could wing it, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the first 10k didn’t turn out very well and I’d basically written myself into a corner.

4) Which means I hammered out an outline for the novel that actually makes sense AND has me totally stoked to write it.

5) I bought a tablet that runs Office 2013, and it’s so compact I can carry it and a full keyboard in my purse. Hooray for no longer having to lug my laptop around! Now I can write anywhere, anytime!

I also have some news to share, but I can’t do that just yet. No, it’s not exciting news. It’s not good news and it’s not bad news. It’s a change. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I’m cleared to do so.

I promise.

And on that note, I think I will head off and open a new Word doc and start writing.

G’night!

 

Knitting Addiction January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Cheryl Angst @ 8:24 pm

My eldest daughter turned seven at the end of November, and one of her friends gave her a knitting project as a present. I was very stressed by this because I once tried to teach myself to knit and it did not go well. 

(I made a baby bootie that is large enough for a camel, and a scarf that is long enough for a mouse. Neither of which will ever see the light of the camera.)

Both attempts were fraught with stress and frustration, so it was with great trepidation that I agreed to help my daughter try out her new knitting kit. To my immense relief, the kit didn’t contain needles, but rather a loom and a hook.

I was intrigued.

It took very little time for my daughter to master the basic technique, and within an afternoon she had knitted a purse.

I was curious.

She graciously let me try my hand at knitting a few rows, and I discovered it was ridiculously easy–even for lefties…

I was hooked. (Pardon the pun.)

My daughter’s loom was soon joined by four more round looms. Then came the square/long looms. Then the flower maker and the sock loom…

(And yes, my knitting-palooza over the holidays meant I did little to no writing.)

However, I do have some lovely things to show for my “spare” (i.e., sacrificed writing) time:

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I made this lovely hat and scarf set for my mother.

And then…

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I whipped this scarf off for my own use (I’m attempting a more complicated stitch pattern for the matching hat…).

And what could be more fun than flowers?

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A doll hat with pillow accessory!

Pigs! Pigs are more fun than flowers!

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Let me introduce you to Mr. Morris Wiffles, Esq.

I’m sure I’ll get back to writing at some point (like when my husband steals my credit card so I can no longer buy out the yarn store…), but until then, rest assured that my hands are not idle!

 

SiWC 2012 Silly Writing Contest October 21, 2012

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 9:51 pm
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Before I delve into the topic for this post, let me say, in no uncertain terms, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is MADE OF WIN.

I am an incredibly socially awkward person, yet I don’t have enough fingers or toes to count the number of people I chatted with over the past four days. People from all over the Lower Mainland, people from around the province, people from across Canada, and even people who flew in from other countries to take part in one of the pre-eminent writing conferences in North America.

Many amazing things happened throughout the course of the weekend–one moment has likely changed the course of my writing career forever–but tonight I want to talk about the annual Silly Writing Contest.

I’m sure you’ve seen this type of contest before. Writers are given a story prompt (or beginning) and are required to finish it within a certain word count. Sometimes the contest is made more challenging by having an additional requirement where contestants must include certain words within their entry (Janet Reid frequently runs these sort of contests on her blog).

Anyway, hundreds of attendees entered, and three were chosen as the winning entries in the 20th Anniversary edition of the contest. As luck would have it, mine was one of those three!

Before I post my entry (because I am quite proud of it), I need to preface it. First, the conference had a theme: the roaring 20’s. Second, bestselling author Michael Slade writes and narrates Shock Theatre every year, putting his signature spin on tales of horror from decades past (this year he managed to mash up The Fly, Jeckyll & Hyde, Jack the Ripper, and a smattering of 50 Shades of Grey into an amazing retelling of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine). There was much noir-esque description throughout the performance, as well as a dramatic abuse of alliteration (followed by the breaking of the fourth wall–writers take note–to point out the alliteration).

Now that I’ve given you a little context for the contest, here’s what we were asked to do:  We had to finish the following story in 75 words or less, and our entries had to include the words: gangster, twentieth, fringe, vamp, prohibition, and zozzled. Yes, zozzled is a real word. Google it if you don’t believe me.

The story starter:

Mike Slade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting angle under a thin mouth. His eyebrows angled too, giving him the look of a pleasantly greying Satan.

“Yeah, sweetheart?” he said to his assistant, Eileen Sea.

She was a real looker, her lips a slash of red above pearls and a dress of thin wool that clung to her like a lost kitten.

She finished shutting the door behind her, leaned against it and said: “There’s a girl to see you, Boss. Her name’s Miz Espenson.”

“A customer?”

“I guess so. You’ll want to talk to this one. She’s a knockout.”

He grinned wolfishly. “A knockout with a problem?”

“A big problem. It’s her – husbands, Boss. I think they might be…”

And here’s where entrants had to fill in the rest.

Wanna know what I wrote?

Yeah, well I’m going to tell you anyway, so pffft.

Here’s my winning entry:

“A big problem. It’s her – husbands, Boss. I think they might be… zozzled.”

Slade frowned.

Widows seeking solace were one thing, but married dames weren’t worth dodging bullets.

“What’s the matter; the vamp’s for prohibition? They a fringe group of Amish?”

Slade eyed Eileen’s gorgeous gams—“gorgeous gams;” writers take note—and wondered if she’d let him run his letter opener through her envelope.

“This is the twentieth time it’s happened.”

“She should hire a gangster.” He fumbled in his pocket. “We’ve got mail needs tending to.”

By the way, the judging panel dubbed it, “50 Shades of Silly Writing.” I couldn’t have been more flattered.

Here’s hoping there’s another twenty great years of SiWC! :)

 

SiWC 2012 October 16, 2012

Filed under: Writing — Cheryl Angst @ 9:54 pm
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So, the Surrey International Writers’ Conference is this week/weekend. It’s the 20th anniversary of the conference, and the line-up looks amazing!

This year, I am taking the Thursday evening Masters Class with Donald Maass. I attended his sessions last year, and my poor writer brain nearly imploded from the awesomeness. I can hardly wait to scrape my grey matter off the floor again this year!

I was reading through the Friday-Sunday sessions and am still blown away by the depth and breadth of topics being offered by incredibly high-calibre professionals. Want to learn how to keep track of your characters from Anne Perry? Or how to weave backstory into your plot from Diana Gabaldon? Or how to put a thrill in your thriller from Michael Slade?

I can hardly wait!

 

 
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