Archive for dreams

What Dreams May Guilt Trip

Posted in Family, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , on July 24, 2012 by Jessica Crichton

What are your dreams like?

I don’t know about you, but mine tend to be pretty epically insane. And yeah, that’s really the best way to describe them. A typical dream of mine on any given night could easily encompass post-apocalyptic city homebuilding, underground cavern / basement excavation, buses being thrown through the air at a slow arc, flying, dying in numerous interesting yet totally unpainful ways, trips to the moon to watch the earthrise… the list goes on. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. After all, I do spend my days living in other worlds of my own making. When you write speculative fiction for kids, it’s not because your brain is wired for cubicle work. Still, every once in a while I wake up thinking maybe I had a little too much Kool-Aid the night before.

Like this morning, for instance.

Now, this dream wasn’t specifically fantasitical in any way. Really, it was just a typical schoolday for me… in high school. Still, that’s nothing really new, either. Who hasn’t had dreams about being back in high school and missing graduation, or being naked, or something along those lines? Only I was fully clothed, and to be fair it was really kind of a hybrid between high school and college. (The night before last I dreamed of being in college, too, only there were vampires involved, and something about going to Seattle… Whatever.) Last night’s dream started out with me in the school kitchen for some reason, doing something — maybe volunteer work, I don’t know — between classes. A friend of mine asked me to help her with some homework, which involved reading a Cliffsnotes version of ALL of Shakespeare’s plays. By the time we were halfway though, classes had changed (which really is quite a feat in and of itself; I mean come on, halfway through Shakespeare within an hour?), and we were both late for our next class. I ran out and started searching for my fifth period classroom, which was math, a class that I never got along with. Ever. Even in college. Anyway, this class, and the science one after it, have featured in past dreams of mine as classes I am constantly missing, being late for, and otherwise entirely failing. Often I can’t even find the classroom for the math class, and end up skipping it entirely and running for sixth period science instead. This time, though, I did find it. On my way I also found food: a sack of potatoes, a bunch of onions, some eggs that looked like bluebird eggs / Easter decorations, and something else I can’t remember now. The food was just sitting around for people to take, I guess. Anyway, outside the math classroom there were bunches of the food, which I assumed meant the teacher didn’t want us bringing it inside, so I left mine with the others. Inside, the teacher welcomed me back with open arms as I told him I’d do my best to make up for lost time, and try to pass despite always missing class. It was good times. Afterwards, I grabbed the food up again and headed to science class. When I got there, I found that my food had gone bad, and so I had to make a choice: search for better food or get to class.

Yeah… THAT isn’t metaphor or anything.

Which brings me to the point of this blog (yeah, there is one, I swear). Math and science have always been my worse subjects. Thankfully now, as a graduate liberal arts student, I don’t have to take any more of those particular tortures. Still, they remain a subconscious link to my deepest discouragements and self-doubt. Food, of course, is the classic metaphor for providing for ones self and one’s family.  Choosing between something I have been a failure at my whole life and yet refuse to give up on (as is apparent in the re-occurrence of these classes in my dreams), and providing for my family which I am not currently doing (my husband has the job, and yesterday… well… I won’t get into it; let’s just say he needs to find a better job)… Yeah. Guilt trip dreamscape, anyone?

So when I woke up from this blatant self-brow-beating, I had to ask myself: is it all worth it? I’m not too proud to say we are struggling right now, and it’s gotten very discouraging recently for myself and my husband. As an able-bodied, right-minded (mostly ;-)),  adult, shouldn’t I be working to help provide for my family, instead of chasing dreams that might never come to fruition? A master’s degree won’t get me a job writing — publishers don’t look at resumes — so why am I working so hard to get one? Every time I bring this up to my husband, he tells me to stay in school. “It’s where you belong right now,” he says. “You’re working toward the future of all of us.”

My husband is a wonderful man.

Still, I wonder. Sure, my masters work is helping make me a better writer, but is it making me good enough to warrant all the time, stress, and money I’m putting into it? And for that matter, is my dream of being a writer worth another year of struggle, wherein we have to tell the kids they can’t have enough school clothes, can’t order from Scholastic book fairs, and… worst yet… my eldest can’t have her yearbook… again?

Until these questions are answered one way or another, I fear these dreams have only begun. And at the moment, I honestly have no answer.


Agent Disaster

Posted in Books, Literature, Publication, Publishing, Self-publishing, Writing with tags , , , , on September 14, 2011 by Jessica Crichton

I was thinking the other day about literary agents and how badly so many writers wish they could have one, and I thought to myself, “I can blog about that!”

Of course, Myself was being her usual pain in the butt self so she asked, “what would you know about agents? As if you have one yourself! Ha!”

Then a deep, dark memory surfaced and I realized I could blog about agents quite well, thankyouverymuch.

Myself even agreed. Grudgingly.

See, I don’t currently have an agent, no, but I have had an agent in the past. Some may gasp at this and feel a sudden rush of jealousy, but hang on for a second… just a moment… while I explain just exactly why he and I parted ways long, long ago and why I’m more apt to be jealous of you for never having crossed his path.

I can’t remember his name, so don’t bother asking. It doesn’t matter anyway. I’ll explain why in a sec.

I was very young and excited about my manuscript, The Veiling Society (yes it’s now published, but I’m not proud of it anymore and if you happen to buy it, please remember I did not recommend it), and looking for agents to represent me. Like every young new writer, I was rejected more times than I care to count. Then the amazing happened: I met an agent who wanted to represent me!

Read: I met an agent. Not queried and not met at a conference. He simply e-mailed me and told me he wanted to represent me. This should have been a huge red flag. But I was young and dumb and excited. So I accepted his “offer” without doing any research on his background whatsoever.

Myself wants to point out how completely moronic I was then. Thank-you for that, Myself. I had no idea.

He asked for $50 for expenses. Also not something a reputable agent does. Did I pay attention to how wrong this was? Nope. I paid him instead.


Then I didn’t hear from him for months. Finally I e-mailed him and asked what was up. He told me I hadn’t paid the $50 so he wasn’t working for me until I did.

Uhh… what? 0.O

Only problem was I had paid it, and I had a receipt for the money order. I showed it to him. He said it could have been any money order. Since I hadn’t paid by check because I didn’t have a bank account, I couldn’t prove it had gone to him.

It was then that I started to wise up.

Started to.

I didn’t pay him again, which was the first smart thing I did. But I didn’t tell him where to shove his $50, either. Nope. I tried to reason with him. I figured he was really a good person and it was a misunderstanding (young Morgan was a bit naive, to say the least). Finally, he agreed to talk to some editors on my behalf.

It was many more months before I heard from him again. Then he e-mailed me, telling me I owed him $200 for services rendered and he would take me to court if I didn’t pay.

Uhhh… what?

I asked what services, and he said none of the editors he spoke to wanted my cruddy book and that he had wasted a ton of time and money on me. I asked, what editors? He wouldn’t say. I freaked out, worried that he could actually take me to court. I dug out the contract I had signed with him; it said nothing about a $200 service fee, though it did say that he had to prove he had worked for me. So I decided to dump him. I wrote him an e-mail saying that I saw no reason to pay him any more money, and that I was, as per our contract, terminating our business relationship.

I never wrote to him again. However, he continued to write me many more scathing, abusive e-mails threatening to take me to court.

He never did take me to court, by the way. He knew he would lose.

Still, it was a scary experience for someone as young and naive as I was then. He stopped e-mailing me after a few months and I never heard from him again, but from this terrible experience I took away some very important lessons about agents. Please heed them more than I did if you are just starting out, and don’t forget them even if you are an old vet like I now am:

  • Never sign a contract with anyone without researching who they are first. Predators and Editors is a wonderful tool that I have used religiously ever since my terrible experience. It lists hundreds of thousands of agents and editors: the good, the bad and the ugly. Remember how I said knowing the name of my monster agent didn’t matter? It’s because I found him on P&E, listed as a scam artist. So as long as you use P&E you’ll never have to deal with him. Or any other scam artists, for that matter. And if your agent isn’t listed, don’t take a chance. Just leave them be.
  • Never, EVER pay a fee to an agent. They make their money by making you money. That’s why they’re so picky, and why you get so many rejections. But it’s worth it to land a real agent… one that won’t ask you for a dime because they know they can make their own money because they’re good at what they do.
  • Look for agents who are members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and/or adhere to their tenets and openly say so on their websites. These are good people.
  • Look into an agent’s recent sales and other media before signing. What have they done lately? Are they known in the industry? Do they have a positive reputation or a negative one?
  • Don’t get too excited. We all want to be published and seen, but it’s not worth it to get scammed. It is worth it to be careful and land a real agent who will work for and with you because they believe in your manuscript.
  • Repeat after me and hereever on: “I am a professional writer. I deserve a professional agent. I can and will be patient. Amen.”

OK, so you can nix the “amen” if you wish, but you get the point. I’m currently working harder than I have ever worked on my writing so that I can show a real agent that I’m a real writer. That’s how you succeed — through hard work and talent…

… and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

What Dreams May Inspire

Posted in Books, Fiction, Literature, Writing with tags , , , on August 8, 2011 by Jessica Crichton

The age-old question of where a writer’s ideas come from has eluded us for a very long time, and chances are it will continue to do so. After all, I am convinced that every writer was born to be a writer, so what we come up with to write about is as much a part of us as our breath, our memories or… our dreams.

What have YOU dreamed lately?

I have spoken to many different kinds of people about their dreams. It is an interesting subject to me because our dreams are the only place in this life when we can literally fly… or do just about anything else we ever wanted to do. Some people swear they don’t dream at all, though I’m inclined to think they simply don’t remember their dreams. Others only remember some of their dreams: usually the most vivid and interesting ones.  Still others, like me, have such vivid dreams that they almost feel like reality — almost every night.

Which are you?

Like the vast majority of my fellow writers I have no idea where most of  my ideas come from. I like to assume it’s just my brilliant creativity. 😉 Still, I do know that my dreams have had no small part in helping mold those ideas into whimsical worlds of my own making. For example, since I was in high school I have dreamed of a post-apocalyptic landscape wherein I live quite happily. Usually I’m fixing up an enormous old building for my family, picking out bedrooms for my kids and such. They’re somewhere… I don’t know where… but they’re alive and coming to live with me soon. I know that. And I’m not afraid either. I can fly, and the world is peaceful, if dark and overcast like a scene from Sin City. Often I’m exploring a part of the building that I haven’t seen before — a disheveled livingroom with antique Victorian furniture, a basement grotto with an old pub on the edge of an underground lake, an old movie theatre in a tower gable — these scenes are where my dreams take me.

This, my friends, was the birthplace of  “Guts and Glory”.

Of course, Nil isn’t quite as peaceful and happy as my dreams but it certainly has a lot in common with them, not the least of which is the scenery that has birthed more plots than I can possibly use within the entire series. The inclusion of my own personal dreams into my stories makes them both realistically otherworldly (no, that’s not an oxi-moron), and genuinely, completley… mine.

And so I ask again… what have you dreamed about lately? It’s quite possible that in your mind there resides a story that nobody else can or will ever… dream… of writing.

Find it. You’ll be amazed where it takes you.

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