Posts Tagged ‘Writing’
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
The “R” word you say? Yep, let’s talk about REVISIONS.
Let’s talk about revisions, baby. Let’s talk about crossing T’s. Let’s talk about all the grammar and the syntax that may be. Let’s talk about revisions…
Yeah, not sure that works with that song (totally dating myself here and now I have that tune in my head), but you get my drift.
Revisions are a key part of any writer’s journey. Unless you’re some kind of alien superstar, you’re probably going to have more than one draft of your novel. You’re going to make changes that are structural, character or plot driven, grammatical, and/or any manner of change that can make your manuscript better. These revisions can come from your mom, your critique partners, your agent (& your agent’s assistant) or your editor (& your editor’s assistant), from the point you start writing to after you’ve sold your book.
For purposes of this post, I’m talking about revisions from an agent or editor.
So you’ve sold your book or gotten an agent. Now you wait for the revisions to come because you know they’re coming. You busy yourself writing and doing other things, and then something pops up in your inbox. Your heart starts pounding as you see your agent’s/editor’s name and the dreaded “REVISIONS” or any of its cousins (edits, line edits, suggestions, changes, recommendations) in the subject line. Opening up the email, you see several pages of notes about what you should change and why … wide sweeping paragraphs detailing everything you didn’t do well. You break out in an instant cold sweat of panic.
Breathe, it’s going to be ok. And it’s not a highlight of things you didn’t do, they are recommendations for things you can do better from someone who has experience selling books. Remember this — a good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.
So breathe, read the notes and step away from your computer for a day or so. Sleep on it (not your computer, the notes). The next morning, get ready to work. Open up the file and save it in Word. Go through the notes line by line and insert your comments in a different color. Agree or disagree, but support why you are doing so. You can certainly defend keeping a character in or a scene in, but you have to pony up the explanation as to why it should stay. This should take you a little while to do because you’re basically responding to your agent/editor’s comments. Wait a couple hours, then re-read what you have written. Make any changes.
Now open your manuscript and save it as a different file. Always SAVE AS and label your version clearly (I tend to use a date and revision sequence). Some people like to start at the beginning and work their way through the revisions. The thing that works for me is CHUNKING. Seriously, chunking is something you learn in first grade, which means putting information into smaller pieces so you can see it more clearly. So basically with a similar approach, I break the notes into manageable chunks. Then I go, piece by piece, and address the appropriate area in the manuscript — if it’s character-based, I focus on that one character from start to finish so I can see him/her as a whole in the novel. If it’s plot based, I focus specifically on that. If it’s pacing, then I address that area.
After I’ve completed all the revisions (and about thirty start to finish re-reads), then I re-read the manuscript one last time, keeping an eye out for pacing, flow and making sure all the revised elements have been smoothly incorporated. You don’t want your book to be clunky or contrived because you’re trying to fix/do too many things. Pick and choose what works. Once I’m done, I submit to my agent/editor and wait to see if they have any further comments. If they do, then I apply the same thought-process and action. If they don’t have any comments, we move on to line or copy editing, which is a different animal that I’ll address another time.
In the meantime, good luck with your revisions. And remember that with a good editor, your book will probably be better for it. Respect their knowledge and experience — take advantage of it. They are in your corner and want your book to sell! That said, if you believe in something and want to fight to keep it in or take it out, then don’t be afraid to have a discussion with your agent/editor. They’ll likely back you up. After all, it’s your book and there are going to be some things worth fighting for. Just remember to use wisdom (my mom always tells me this and I’m still trying to work out what it means half the time), and give yourself a pat on the back. You’re one step closer to seeing your amazing book on the shelf!
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Envision that title in Dory’s voice, you know, the endearing slash annoying blue fish from Finding Nemo and you’ve got it. That’s what I’m focusing on right now and that’s the mantra in my head.
When you’re a writer, you have to write. Whether it’s a blog entry, a new chapter in your work in progress, a social media post … point is you’re writing. And that’s good. That’s what you have to strive for, and just a little each day is all it takes.
Sometimes I don’t feel like writing at all, but I force myself. It’s a little bit like working out. Who wants to get up at 5am to go run on a treadmill (or in my case, pretend to run, when it’s really some kind of walk/jog/run/limp combo)? But I do it anyway. And you know what? It makes me feel better — like I’ve achieved something. In the same way, writing 2000 words is a huge accomplishment. Heck, on a bad day, writing 200 words can make me feel good.
Anyway, the point of this blog post is going to be part motivational/part whip-cracker. Just keep writing. No matter what. Don’t worry if it’s complete crap because you can edit all that later. I’m a big fan of Anne Lamott’s crappy first drafts, and she knows her stuff. Crappy first drafts rule even if they shouldn’t see the light of day, because YOU wrote it.
So that’s it. That’s my soapbox for today. JUST. KEEP. WRITING.
And now for your entertainment …
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
So I figured I’d write a blog post on motivation since I need to self-motivate right about now. It’s not that I’m completely lacking in it–I just lack some much needed focus. My agent asked me to edit a short-story and I was able to do it in short order, so I know I have the juice. I just need to funnel it in the right direction and stop procrastinating.
Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “To reach a port, we must sail—Sail, not tie at anchor—Sail, not drift.”
I take this to mean that we need to have some idea of how to get to that port, i.e., the goal. The goal doesn’t need to be large or the all-encompassing objective (gasp, a whole 100,000 word novel) that strikes fear into the hearts of the most valiant. I think it needs to be small and manageable. It’s a process … little goals lead to big goals. So to continue with the sailing metaphor, we need a boat (laptop), a sail (brain), the ocean (desk), some sustenance (music/food), and away we go toward our first port of call (word count). The final port will be of course the completed draft of the manuscript but like I said, baby steps.
In terms of my own writing, I’m 150 pages into a new novel, which has sort of stalled. Not because I’m not interested, but because of a whole lot of external distractions. And well, you know how distractions work … if it’s not a shopping trip, then it’s food, or some train-wreck talk show on television, or even a nap. And they can become habitual distractions, which are the WORST. Because habits are hard to break. Anyway, not to get too off topic, I need to set little goals, like a writing total for the day and aim to meet it.
A quote from Yogi Berra here seems appropriate. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
Like napville, which as much as we love, we don’t want. We want to write, and to write something good. So for now, I’ll keep this focused on the goal front–5000 words is a manageable number , but you can halve that if you need to (2500 words sounds like a lot but that’s like ONE chapter). Or go even less if you like, say 1000. That’s a nice round bite-sized number and it’s only four pages! Remember, baby steps. Try to move your story arc along, and see where you can go from there. I’m definitely a pantser writer, and I tend to go where the characters take me. I do have a general idea of the overarching story, but my writing is very character-driven. So I’m not entirely sure where I’m going but I do have the tools to move me (and my story) along.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
This last quote says it all. Just do it. Sit down and get cracking. You’re the only person getting in your own way right now, so stop making excuses and procrastinating, and hop to it. (Jeez, my inner voice is scary). Get your laptop out or your pencil and paper out if you’re old school, put your earbuds in, crank that music up, and just start writing. One word, then two and pretty soon, you may have a whole page, and then a whole chapter, then three. You get the picture. So stop reading this blog post and get to writing!
One last quote to get you juiced up …
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” ~ Lou Holtz
And if you’re not a writer, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find something you love and go do it …
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman
FIND WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE. I couldn’t say it any better than this.
Saturday, January 21st, 2012
I’m thinking out loud here, so if you’re looking for any kind of message or something that makes some kind of coherent sense, it’s probably not going to happen in this blog post. So anyway, I have a bunch of ideas for new projects, but I don’t feel particularly fired up about any one of them. I’m not sure that’s because I haven’t committed to any of them or because I’m really not into the ideas in the first place, but I feel that it’s probably more the former than the latter.
I just finished editing my third novel and currently have it out to two beta readers. My Lady of Awesome Agent is working her magic to sell my second novel, Goddess. I’m also still promoting Bloodspell heavily (had a great trip to Colorado last week with some upcoming stops in Maine and Chicago). However, on the writing front, I’m not really working on anything new. I have a few open projects including the Bloodspell sequel and I have this new outline that I can’t stop thinking about (probably because it’s fully outlined). I also have this really awesome idea, just a figment really, of a fabulous companion novel to my second novel that’s currently on submission to editors. But then I second guess myself that there’s probably something like the first idea already out there (you know, because no art is original anymore) or that the companion novel idea is lame, and then I wonder if I should commit to it at all. What to do.
And there we are. Back to that word. Commitment. It keeps popping up, doesn’t it? Am I a commitment phobe? What does it mean? Maybe that I need to jump fingers first and just start working on it and see where it takes me. It’s only time after all … time that it takes to formulate a hundred thousand words. But I can do it. I’m a writer, aren’t I? It’s what we do. We write.
Saturday, October 1st, 2011
I woke up this morning and started categorizing things in my head – you know, what I had to get done today and how I was going to prioritize my day. However, despite having a clear direction of my schedule by the time I got out of bed, I really haven’t done any of the things I set out to do. I spent some time on the usual social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, saying hello to my friends and making some new ones. I watched a little daytime television. Speaking of, wasn’t the girl who played Victoria on The Young & The Restless like seven years old? She’s a grownup now! Wow, I’m getting old. But I digress.
So anyway, instead of sticking to the schedule, I enjoyed some much needed downtime. The good thing about downtime is that it gets you thinking … it gives you perspective, not just on your life but on the lives around you. I also spent some time thinking of the last few whirlwind months.
Bloodspell came out in June. The last three months have been some of the most insanely awesome months of my life, as I am sure the next three months will be, especially as I will still be on tour promoting the novel. I’ve met some INCREDIBLE people along this journey, people that I will remain friends with hopefully for a lifetime – bloggers, fans, reviewers, publicists, editors and fellow authors. And I know I will meet a lot more. Thank you for all your support and good wishes and your friendship, whether it’s in person or on Twitter or on Facebook. It means A LOT.
I know that this journey is only just beginning. The things is I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. I loved reading and I wrote a ton of poetry and short stories growing up, so it seemed like a natural step for me. But things don’t always turn out like you plan it. After a Creative Writing class in college gone horribly wrong (I won’t bore you with the details), I focused on other things like International Studies, French, and History. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have given up on my dream so easily, but I was young and impressionable. I didn’t think I had what it took to be a writer … in short, I didn’t believe in my own voice. After college, I got into Global Telecommunications, drawn by the lure of a fruitful career and lots of international travel. Thirteen years later, I’d done well, so much so that I’d managed my own NY sales branch, and had become a Director of priority global partners with a lot of responsibility.
But as I got older, I realized that something was missing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job and I loved interacting with new people all over the globe, but that desire to write (the one that had always been there) started to get bigger, and more insistent. So I listened to it and I started writing again. And I realized that my voice had been there all along, but it just hadn’t been ready. Now it was. A few months later, an early draft of Bloodspell was born, and the rest is history.
*pushes soapbox to middle of room*
The point of this ramble is that it’s important to listen to what your heart says, and to not give up on your dreams. Believe in yourself, and anything is possible. There may be a few hurdles to overcome before you get there, but if you don’t give up on yourself, you will get there. If you want to be a writer, a dancer, an astronaut, an engineer – do everything you have to do to make it happen. No one can tell you that you can’t be something or do something. That said, I understand that life can sometimes get in the way of dreams. That doesn’t mean your dreams are over, they’re just temporarily on hold, like mine were. Look at my journey … the truth is the path to success isn’t a straight line, it’s a squiggling swirly mess. I laughed out loud when a friend of mine posted the inset “success” image on Facebook because it’s so true. Life isn’t a straight line either. Why should success be any different?
But if you don’t give up or get discouraged by the setbacks, you will get there. Embrace the journey. The human will is incredibly tenacious, so grasp ahold of those dreams no matter how big or small, and don’t stop believing!
And yes, you can totally hum the Journey song while reading this post. I did while writing it!
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
I haven’t really written much in weeks, probably a couple thousand words at the most for a new story that hasn’t really gone anywhere other than a few intro pages. It’s not that I don’t have inspiration, I do. I have a ton of cool story ideas from post-apocalyptic to magical fantasy to horror. The problem is that I find myself in a strange place after having written my last book, which was based on a completely different and unique idea. Now I am worrying whether it was too different.
Too different from what, you ask? Well, the market, or what agents and editors say is hot in the market (especially for debut authors). So here is the dilemma – agents and editors claim to want fresh but it’s fresh with a caveat. They want fresh but not so fresh that it’s not completely identical to everything else selling in the market. Does that sound like a contradiction of terms to you? That’s because it is. How do you find an idea that’s like everything else but still fresh?
I am starting to think that this doesn’t really exist unless I copy what one other young adult author revealed was her secret strategy – to take any (non-original) story and switch up the gender of the characters, giving publishers what they want but being “different” enough. But that doesn’t make it fresh to me, underneath it’s just the same old thing. Wouldn’t readers see right through that? Interestingly, it has worked for her – she’s a best selling author of two young adult books. So is that what agents and editors want, a mash-up of already done, already “proven” ideas? Sounds like it but I don’t think that that’s what readers want, at least I’d like to hope so. I’m a voracious reader myself and when I come upon a new book with an interesting unique different idea, I’m intrigued. Simply put, the world is a diverse place, we need diverse material. Pick any book from the Hugo Awards list and you’ll see some of the diversity I’m talking about.
Anyway, that’s only a snippet of my creative dilemma as I’m sure there are other implications tied in to this like the economic climate (editors not willing to risk their jobs for unknown authors or publishers looking for tried and true), the changing landscape of the publishing industry and the digital ebook revolution, or simple economics of the cost to produce versus sales return. More than likely it’s going to be the Indies (Independent Publishers) that are going to be the ones to find the new stuff or take a chance on niche markets/ideas, but still, that’s but a sliver of the whole. It’s an undeniably daunting prospect for any unconnected unknown writer. The odds are simply not in their favor.
That said, I’m debating whether to do a test project and write the book that fits the mold. Is that selling out? Not entirely sure…but if it means selling something, I don’t have anything to lose. What’s the alternative? To do it yourself and own the onus? That’s certainly an option but that’s a very complicated discussion meant for another time.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Just a quick post to say that the queries are out. Typically, every agency has rules but you know what, I’m a sales person at heart and I want to sell my product. So I’m out there trying to sell it, hard core. If this isn’t viewed as a business, then that agent is never going to be successful selling your book. They have to passionate about your work, as much as you are, and they have to have sales savvy. Plus of course have lots of contacts, and not the eye kind.
So you probably know by now from my extensive posts on querying agents (shame if you don’t), my query process basically means that I have a researched list of anyone looking for new clients in my category/genre, and then it’s “Hi yo, Silver, away!” That’s the Lone Ranger for you young’uns. Why the list, you ask? Well it’s such a subjective process. So go for anyone who would be a good fit for you and your book. Seriously, what if you get someone on a bad day, and then you’re screwed from the whole agency? Come on. At the end of the day, they’re human too, so make sure you cover your bases.
Repeat slowly – it is a business, and again. It. Is. A. Business. A business to make money.
Everyone in the entire publishing industry views it that way, so why shouldn’t you? I’m not saying don’t respect the rules, but bend them if you have to. I mean this is your dream, is it not? As my Aussie friends say, harden up. Push the limits. And remember, it’s the law of numbers – a rule I learned in Sales 101. The more you send out, the more responses you’ll get, and the greater chance for an offer, or maybe fifteen. I got 8 offers the last time so there’s something to be said for that law. And of course having stellar writing which comes in a close second. Or first. Seriously, that’s first.
Response has been fantastic so far. Lots of interest, so fingers crossed that it will just be about me connecting with the person who’s going to take me to the next level. My Mr. or Ms. Right-Agent. I can’t wait. Wow, this could be like an episode of the Literary Bachelorette or something. *Caution – too much query excitement can cause random delirium and some serious verbal vomit. Thank goodness it’s here and not in el query or el novel.
Stay tuned for more…
Saturday, July 24th, 2010
No kidding. It feels like everything is coming to boiling point. Writing a new book, a literary one mind you…no urban fantasy here, just evil masquerading as nice, normal individuals. Seriously, you don’t need to be a vampire or a werewolf to be inhuman. Strip away those top layers and sometimes you will be disgusted to see what you find in the very people around you. That’s not to say you don’t find good things too, but more often than not, there’s darkness lurking. It’s the human condition.
But I digress.
So between writing my third book, publishing the first one (hoping fervently that it will take off like a rocket), and getting a new literary agent for the second book (new series), it feels like my world is entering hyper-drive! But I’m not complaining! Don’t get me wrong…it’s just overwhelming. But oh so good!
If you’re interested on learning how to query an agent, check back to my links on that subject. I’ll keep you posted on progress of all three. Query-city next week!!
Monday, June 28th, 2010
So yes, I am absolutely guilty of not updating as regularly as I have been, and I have no real excuse other than I’ve been traveling in Europe and haven’t come across any “fantasy-esque” or writing-related things to talk about. Still, it’s a good excuse! In the last couple days, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, and back. And in the middle of all that, I had the incredible good fortune to stand stage-side at a Damian Marley and Nas concert at the Couleur Cafe (an amazing urban world-music festival) in Brussels. Music does inspire me to write so maybe this little hiatus of mine will have some good results!
Check out a couple photos I took below.
Thursday, June 10th, 2010
swiss cheese, swiss chocolates, swatches, swiss knives and of course Roger Federer…so if I slack off a couple days, be patient with me.
A European trip of any kind requires meticulous planning, not to mention complete pre-immersion in said trip. Luckily, I speak French so I won’t be completely lost in the land with four official languages (German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch). English is the unofficial fifth language.
Looking for some inspiration for a new story! Woo-hoo!!