Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best Post Ever

I'm not posting today. Okay, I am, but . . . I'm directing you here to a post written by Rachelle Gardner because she wrote the post every single writer needs to read.

So, click, read, let the words sink into you, and . . .


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

So, Thanksgiving is here . . . already. It seems just like yesterday that the year started. Time seems to be zipping by me the older I get.

This week, well, work's been crazy, life's crazy, Thanksgiving is just days away and I have way too much to do.

What sacrifice will I make?

Yeah, you guessed it . . . blogging. I'm still lurking around, just not posting or commenting too much this week because . . .

Wednesday - finish cleaning house, and start Thanksgiving prep: cranberry sauce to make, two pies to make, bread to bake for dressing.

Thursday - touch up bathrooms, prep turkey, make vegetable dish, make sweet potatoes, get turkey ready, make dressing, set table, prepare for guests. Oy, somebody get me a Bloody Mary!

Friday - start decorating for Christmas. Oh, wait, it's Friday . . . meet friends for margaritas.

Saturday - continue decorating for Christmas.

Sunday - collapse in exhaustion!

Well, that's it for me this week . . . oh, I started rereading The Deathly Hallows so I'll try and fit in some reading throughout this crazy week as well.

I hope everyone has a fantastic and safe Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WiP Wednesday - November 17, 2010

So, the edits - for now - are done. Typos and unclear sentences fixed. Sentences, a paragraph or five deleted, and a total of 8 pages cut from the manuscript . . . at this point.

Input from three out of four beta readers in hand, the fourth input should arrive in my email Monday morning.

Major change: deleted first few chapters and started the manuscript with the fourth (I think) chapter because . . . survey said: this is where I really started to get into the story. So, I went with the 2 out of 3 survey response.

I need to do another read through - .pdf format so I don't change things willy-nilly that seriously don't need changing - and then compile the beta readers opinions and see what I will (and won't) change based on their feedback.

Then . . . more work on query, start the synopsis, and do some agent research. I do have the logline done for the query, so the rest is just - brief, to the point, voice speaking loudly - filler.

So, how about you? Where are you with your writing projects? What great and exciting adventures have you created?


Monday, November 15, 2010

The First 250 Words

Okay, what is it about the first 250 words? Why do they have to be stellar, amazing, awe-inspiring, hook-grabbing, and all that jazz?

I don't judge a book (or a writer, for that matter) by the first 250 words. I normally - bad on me - judge a book by, well, it's cover. Yes, I'm a cover snob. I'm more apt to pick up a book with an interesting cover, than one with not. Okay, a catchy title will grab me as well, but both combined . . . ah, the ambrosia that tickles my literary senses.

Now, after the cover and title, or a combo of both, I like to - whether in a book store or not - read the first chapter before making a definitive decision on the book.

So, to me, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first 250 words or, well, whatever, really don't matter.

What does matter is the writing within the first chapter!

So, why is there this myth, perhaps a reality, that the first 250 words, or whatever, matter so much?

I don't have an answer to that question. I only have my own way of deciding if I'm going to buy a book, and the first 250 words really don't come into play with me. The cover, often the title, and, yes, the cover jacket or back cover blurb are taken into account as well, but, not, I repeat, not, the first 250 words.

Now, I understand agents getting a ton of submissions and having to make a decision quick. But, don't many of them ask for the first five pages, which, last time I checked, is greater than 250 words? Why, yes, it is. Hmmm . . .

Okay, I love me some Miss Snark's First Victim. I love her blog and what she does for all aspiring writers. I've submitted my first 250 words to contests in the past. I haven't recently because, well, the MS isn't complete. But . . . I couldn't submit my first 250 because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the first 250 of the current project isn't the expected - wham, bam, right into the action - norm that I seem to see out there. The first chapter - 4 pages - sets the stage for everything. Yes, there's a bit of wham, bam, right into the action, but not in the first 250 words.

My readers - so my betas tell me - love this first chapter. They've all said they get a sense of the two lead characters within those first four pages, as well as who they are and what they, well, one of them, wants out of life, i.e., the goal of the book.

Trust me, they wouldn't get this in the first 250 words. Sorry, it's just not happening.

So, you tell me: are your first 25o words wham, bam, right into the action? Do you prefer this in the first 25o words? Do you prefer something a bit more subtle? Do you base your buying on the first few pages or the first few chapters of a book? Comment away.


p.s. Please note I'm not intending to dis' Authoress in any way, shape, or form. I love her blog, I'm friends with her on Facebook, and we've chatted back and forth in emails in the past. I think - heck, I know - the main reason for this post is the fact that I knew the first 250 words of my current manuscript would fail the litmus test of her blog, and really, just wanted some other input out there from my writerly brethren! : )

Friday, November 12, 2010

Editing vs. Writing

Editing takes more time than writing. Yeah, most of you probably know this . . . at least on some level.

Writing, at least the rough draft, and at least for me, is all about getting the words out of my head and onto paper . . . well, the computer screen since I don't write things out by hand any longer. It's about running with the idea, careening through a dark forest, the path sometimes barely discernible, and suddenly discovering myself at, well, The End.

Editing is, well, tedious. There's not this onward rush, a dash of sorts, over the hills and through the woods to grandmother's house we go. No, there's a steady, slow, tedious, long and arduous progression from word 1 to word 63,057.

I can't write willy-nilly, not worrying about typos and incomplete sentences, chasing my muse, hoping she'll wait for me and not rush off four pages ahead so, that by the time I get there, she's long gone and the words, for the moment, dry up.

No, with editing, I must examine each and every word, fix the typos and the incomplete or unclear sentences, replace her with here, or vice versa, and ha with he and there with their and . . . well, the list goes on and on. I must delete the unnecessary and think does this make sense? If it doesn't make sense, then it must go - edit, delete, eradicate. I must think forward and backward - no, this doesn't make sense here, but later, in Chapter 12, it will make sense or did I leave a clue in Chapter 6 that makes this scene plausible . . . and so many other things.

So, while I might be able, on a good day, when writing, to sit down and write 8,000 words. In editing, the process is much slower. I am the tortoise, slowly progressing along, whereas, when writing, I am the hare, racing forward, content - so to speak - in my arrogance that I'll win the race.

Yes, I know, writing isn't a race. Writing is, in many ways, the tortoise - a slow progression to the finish line.

So, as I near the end of this edit phase, I acknowledge that editing takes more time than writing.

Just another glimpse into the warped and twisted space I call my mind. Ha!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WiP Wednesday - November 10, 2010

Okay, first, how in the heck did November 10, 2010 arrive so soon? Seriously, people, where in the heck has the year gone? Geesh!

As for Work in Progress (WiP) Wednesday . . . I'm still in the fix the typos and unclear sentences phase of the editing process. I have 71 pages to go. Woo-hoo!

I also have the feedback from two beta readers, partial feedback from the third, and should have the feedback from the fourth this weekend. The next phase of my editing process will be reviewing their feedback and deciding what, if any, changes to make.

I have completed the logline (for the most part) with the fabulous help of Holly Bodger over at Random Notes from Holly Bodger. Holly took time out of her busy life to give me some tips and honest feedback. I can't thank her enough, but, I can send people over to her site to read her posts on loglines and everything. Go on, click on over and show some love! She really has helped me narrow my focus when creating a logline. That, dear readers, is invaluable assistance.

I always struggled with loglines. I just couldn't get the knack of them until . . . I, thanks to Authoress, found Holly's site. So, if you're having trouble with your loglines, click on over and see if what helped me can't also help you.

Now, back to me (ha) . . . after I finish this edit phase, and before I start the full review of the betas feedback, I plan on writing my query. You know what? I already have the logline, so the rest of the query is just filler. Ha!

I'm also reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, who also wrote The House at Riverton and The Forgotten Garden. I loved, loved, loved The Forgotten Garden and I'm loving The Distant Hours. I haven't read The House at Riverton but plan on doing so at some point.

So, that's my Wednesday update. How about you? What's going on in your writing life? Are you immersed in NaNo? Some other project?

Whatever it is, may the words flow freely and your muse always sing, just not off-key!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Loglines - My Process

Today I'm going to write a bit more about loglines. Specifically, my process - at least at this point - as I try to come up with a logline for my cozy mystery.

As I mentioned yesterday, all thanks to Authoress and Holly Bodger, there are five elements to the logline: main character, inciting incident, conflict, goal, and consequences.

This all seems pretty straightforward. Yeah. Right.

In working on my logline, I realized as straightforward as this seems, it is often far more complicated.

So, what I did was this . . .

Main Character = name of main character
Inciting Incident = well, the inciting incident, which, for example, was the attack on the victim
Conflict - the suspects would rather their secret remain secret and will do pretty much anything to keep their secret secret
Goal - solve the case (yeah, that was a hard one to figure out - ha)
Consequences - twofold (as in my Little Red Riding Hood example), but, for brevity I'm going to say . . . MC could end up dead

So, then I went about constructing my sentences. Now, I'm not giving you what I wrote, but I have come up with similar sentences, that hopefully show my process:

  • Inept, amateur sleuth Porky Pig (main character) gets the career-changing opportunity of a lifetime when he's asked to solve (goal) the death (inciting incident) of Foghorn Leghorn.
  • When Foghorn Leghorn is attacked (inciting incident), his good friend the Chicken Hawk asks amateur sleuth Porky Pig (main character) to solve (goal) the case. The problem: Porky's pretty much inept, and ever since he began investigating the case, dead rabbits have been showing up on his doorstep. He's afraid he might end up as dead (consequences) as the rabbits if he doesn't solve the case soon.
  • When Foghorn Leghorn is attacked (inciting incident), his good friend the Chicken Hawk asks amateur sleuth Porky Pig (main character) to solve (goal) the case. Porky Pig’s investigation (conflict) begins simply enough, but soon dead rabbits start appearing on his doorstep and he’s afraid he’ll end up just as dead (consequences) if he doesn’t solve the case . . . soon.
  • When amateur sleuth Porky Pig (main character) begins investigating (inciting incident) the death of a rooster, he doesn’t understand how desperate (conflict) the suspects are to keep their part in the death secret. As the clues add up, and dead rabbits start appearing on his doorstep, he’s afraid he’ll end up just as dead (consequences) as the rabbits if he doesn’t solve (goal) the case . . . soon.

Let me dissect the examples above, in order of appearance:

  • One - I'm missing conflict and consequences
  • Two - I'm missing conflict
  • Three - I have all five elements
  • Four - ditto

The difference, at least to me, between example three and four is that four - again, my opinion - is a bit more clear. I also took out all names except that of the main character.

So, these are my feeble attempts at example loglines for your reading pleasure. I think the main thing is to include the elements so that you - hopefully - hook potential agents, editors, publishers, readers, friends, lovers, and mortal enemies. Ha!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Loglines, it's all about the loglines - one or two sentences to sell your 70,000 words (or more) of brilliance to . . . everybody: agent, editor, publisher, friends, lovers, and mortal enemies.

Holly Bodger over at Random Notes from Holly Bodger did two recent posts about Loglines: here and here. Authoress over at Miss Snark's First Victim provided the link to the second post here. Go on, check things out. Thanks.

Now, back to the loglines. According to Holly Bodger, there are five elements of the logline as follows:
  • Main Character
  • Inciting Incident
  • Conflict
  • Goal
  • Consequence

In her first logline post, Holly provides a description of each element and examples as well. In the second logline post she does a bit of clarification and provides a few more examples.

Since I've been working on my own logline for my cozy mystery, this information has come in handy.

But, being the generous person I can be (shhhh, don't let my sisters know), I'm going to share the knowledge by providing an example of my own by using a well-known fairy tale character: Little Red Riding Hood.

Main Character = Little Red Riding Hood

Inciting Incident = going to grandma's house to deliver a basket of goodies

Conflict = Big Bad Wolf

Goal = reaching grandma's house safely . . . and delivering the basket of goodies

Consequences = twofold: ending up dead or grandma starving to death

So, in the grand tradition of loglines, using the elements provided by Holly Bodger . . .

When Little Red Riding Hood (main character) sets off through the woods (inciting incident) to grandma's house, she encounters (conflict) the Big Bad Wolf. Suddenly, the forest isn't so inviting, and Little Red must use all her cleverness to make it safely (goal) to grandma's house before the wolf eats (consequence) her and grandma starves (consequence) to death.

Okay, I'm winging it here and adding a bit of drama . . . just for funsies. Still, the logline - 2 sentences - contains the five elements outlined by Holly Bodger: main character, inciting incident, conflict, goal, and consequences.

As I work on my own logline, I'm making sure I incorporate all these elements into the logline. So far, so good.

Oh, and just for fun, Authoress is having a logline critique session on her blog. Go over, look at some of the loglines, and see if they have (or don't have) all the necessary elements.

Have fun.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Beta Readers and WiP Update

So, my beta readers have been, well, beta reading. Woo-hoo.

Initially, they had a short deadline, on the rough draft, because I was going to enter a contest. Well, in the meantime, I decided not to enter the contest.


Well, my cozy mystery, rough draft, came in at about 65,000 words. The word count for cozy mysteries is between 60,000 and 70,000 words. Yep, I was right there in the middle and ended up with about 286 pages.

Fine! Dandy!

Oh, wait, the contest only wants 220 pages which meant I would have to eliminate 60 pages.

Well, when I mentioned this to my beta readers there was a collective: Noooooooooo!

Well, talk about a consensus on that subject.

Okay, I'd pretty much decided the same thing, but I did pose the question just to be on the safe side.

Yes, as I go through the edit process, I'll eliminate pages. I just don't see where I can eliminate 60 pages. In fact, one of my readers made the following comment: every page is pertinent and fun!

So, the idea of entering the contest, well, bit the dust. I really wanted to enter the contest.

But . . . to do so would have meant eliminating far too many pages that, at least in my opinion, would hurt the integrity of the novel.

So, my focus now is creating the best manuscript possible so I can query after the first of the year. I've written the query - needs work, I'll be emailing Elana at some point - and plan on working on the synopsis as well over the course of the next couple of months.

Lastly - my beta readers rock. They don't always agree with each other, and sometimes they do:
  • one was distracted by a subplot, while another one loved the subplot.
  • three agreed that I needed to begin on Page 8, and one said that my initial beginning was fine.
  • they all wanted more!


On that note, done for blogging . . . at least for today. Ha!