Friday, July 29, 2011
First - Farewell!
Most blogs have a three year life span. I think this blog reached the end of its lifespan quite a while ago, thus the lack of posts in recent months. So, for the most part, I've decided to bid farewell to this blog . . . but not the blogging community. I'll still be out here, reading, lurking, and commenting from time to time. I just don't - at this point - have plans to keep blogging about a writer's life.
Well, I think I've said what I wanted to say, and there are a ton of other blogs out there doing pretty much the same thing, so . . . I'm leaving writers, aspiring and otherwise, in the capable hands of other bloggers.
Second - What I've Been Doing!
In the last few months I've been doing . . .
Reading - I just finished reading Book 9 of the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle. Great Books! Book 10 release date is this coming Tuesday. Woo-hoo.
In reading these books, I've realized more and more that, well, I've been writing, well, right! Ha! Seriously, more so than anything else, reading all these books - started in June w/Book 1 - I've come to realize that some of my doubts about my own writing style were unfounded. The things I've been doing with my writing are, to use a British term, spot on! So, it's a good thing I bought that first book back in June to read on the plane while going to Key West, then directly to Boston, and back home. Geesh!
I just started Armistead Maupin's Mary Ann in Autumn, the latest in his Tales of the City series. Great series, btw, and some great movies out there as well with Olympia Dukakis as Anna Madrigal. Great casting. Plus, I have another mystery book awaiting my attention, and my mother recommended Sarah's Key - which has been made into a movie. Mom says she couldn't put down the book.
Third - New Blog!
Yeah, I know, like I needed another blog, but, you can find it here!
There are times when I want to write beyond fiction, when life just makes me, well, mad. So, this blog - Scottford Speaks - is where I'll put those musings, those frustrations with this life, that go beyond fiction into, well, the realm of non-fiction . . . depending on your viewpoint. Ha!
Fourth - Life!
Life has been crazy, especially these last couple of months, with more loss, and crazy stuff than I really want to deal with in this life.
They - don't know who they are - say bad things happen in threes! Well, multiply that by two and you have the series of events that have thrown me for a loop, and had me struggling with my faith. Don't worry, still have that faith, but it was touch and go for just a wee bit.
Fifth - Revamps!
Revamps to my cozy mystery. I changed one little thing . . . and am in the process of going through the entire document to fix that one thing.
Oh, and then there was the making the prominence of one character, well, more prominent . . . which meant altering the location of various chapters from one place to the other, which meant if it was happening in the apartment, but now at the new place, the fact that a character was pacing didn't make sense any longer, or the fact that one character likes to walk around naked in the apartment. Yeah, doing that in a public place might be funny, but would also lead to an indecent exposure charge. Ha! So, slowly but surely, I've been doing those changes which means . . .
. . . I have to change the one page synopsis a bit and . . .
. . . the query a bit. Geesh.
Then, my friend Traci - English professor - has started her own proofreading business, and has agreed to proofread the document. Woo-hoo! Okay, normally she won't do manuscripts, but, if you know anyone who needs a cover letter, resume, dissertation, essay proofread, etc., give me a shout. I'll hook you up.
Fifth - Cooking!
Yes, cooking. You see, a character in my mystery runs a tea shop and has all these delectable concoctions she creates, which means . . . I have to have recipes for these delectable concoctions. So, I've been experimenting in the kitchen coming up with these recipes. So far, I haven't sent Frank to the ER. So far! LOL!
Seriously, I have begun compiling recipes for the books - cookies, muffins, some main dish stuff. I think I love cooking as much as I love writing, so a combination of those two passions is a very good thing.
Sixth - The End!
So, with all that going on in my life, plus my need to write more in the non-fiction realm, I just figured now was as good as time as any to say farewell to this blog.
I appreciate every single follower, and every friend I've made through this blog. I've learned a lot from your blogs as well. Hopefully, I've learned enough. Plus, I'm friends with a good many of you on Facebook, so it's not like I'm going to drop off the face of the Earth!
Good luck to every writer out there. Don't ever give up on your dream. Keep writing. Don't give up, don't falter, don't think the publishing world is changing forever. Just keep writing. A dream is always worth following. The publishing world may change - Borders closing - but the need for books, whether in e-format, or whatever, will always exist. The human mind craves adventure, and it is up to us, the writers of the world, to provide that adventure!
Friday, June 3, 2011
Well, last week I ordered the FamilyTree Maker software from Ancestry. Best $$ spent in a long time. The software is nifty beyond nifty and lets me create all sorts of reports - descendant reports, places reports (showing all the places my ancestors have lived - NEAT-O!), and, best of all, the Timeline Report.
The Timeline Report, for an individual, will show all the events that happened in the span of a person's lifetime.
Take my Great Grandmother Maggie Morris Sweat . . .
When I ran the report on her, I learned the following information . . .
1800 - 1900: US History - Western Expansion
1830 - 1930: World History - Mass immigration to US, Europe, and Canada
1869 - Birth of my great grandmother
1893 - World History: Women's Suffrage in New Zealand
1898 - Spanish American War
1901 - William McKinley Assassination - September 6, 1901, Buffalo, New York
1903 - Wright Brothers First Flight - September 17, 1903, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
1903 - Ford Model T Manufactured
1912 - RMS Titanic Disaster
1920 - death of great grandmother
Here's the neat thing for writers: with a click of a few buttons, I'm able to get a sense of what was going on in America, and the World, for a specific time frame, and have it right at my fingertips as, say, I work on an historical mystery loosely based on a real life event, i.e., the disappearance of my great-grandfather.
So, as I write out the chapters, I can include some of these things in the book. Woo-hoo!
So, for anyone doing historical novels, you might want this software, perhaps solely for the timeline aspect, but perhaps more so to do your own family history research.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
. . . my synopsis can best be described as . . .
. . . STINK!
. . . STANK!
. . .STUNK!
And . . . I wouldn't touch it with a thirty foot pole!! Ha!
Okay, it's not that bad.
Okay, I think it is that bad, though it has some promise . . .
. . . with a heck of a lot of tweaking.
Where in the heck is Cindy Lou Who when you need her?
Because, let me tell ya, my synopsis needs her . . . and a bunch of other stuff.
The problem: when I first worked on the synopsis for my cozy, I thought it was pretty dang good.
Yeah, I know, there I go thinking again. Never a good thing. It always gets me in trouble, like the time . . .
Well, no need to go there! Ha!
Suffice it to say, it needs work. I did some crossing out and red penning last night, and will do more work tonight to get this lovely stinky, stanky, stunky synopsis in tip-top shape!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
So, tomorrow, June 1, 2011, I step back from my dance with the ancestors and step forward to work on my writing.
Perhaps I just needed a break. Perhaps I was wallowing in self-pity. Perhaps . . .
Well, I don't know why I stepped back from the writing. I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV.
I think I just needed a break.
I think - see yesterday's post - I needed time to dwell on things and decided the best course of action for me, because, well . . .
. . . it's all about me. Ha!
Seriously, I needed a break, took one, and now I'm gearing back up to throw myself in the query trenches while . . .
. . . also researching some indie/small press publishers that deal with my niche (which, in my opinion, really shouldn't be a niche) market.
I've started the one page synopsis required by one of the indie publishers. It's gonna take a wee bit of work to finish. Okay, it's gonna take a lot of work.
Have I mentioned I hate doing the synopsis thing? Oh, yeah . . . hate, hate, hate.
Then again, I hated doing algebra. Boy, did I hate doing algebar (see I hated it so bad, I spelled the word wrong - LOL). Man, I hated algebra. In fact, I barely passed algebra in high school, and yet . . . "A" was the name of the game in college. Go figure. Ha!
So, I plod every forward, doing what I must in this crazy writing journey, to get my brilliance published.
Monday, May 30, 2011
. . . I'm a niche writer. Yes, I admit it! I'm not a mainstream writer. I don't write about vampires or mermaids or, well, whatever.
I write about the life I see around me, the life I want to read about.
I don't want the overt stereotypes constantly portrayed by the media.
I don't want the marginalization of a distinct group of people.
I want - some of the time, not all of the time - characters I can relate to on a deep level, rather than a peripheral level.
Yes, there are books there our there that deal with what I'm talking about. There are writers - agented, multiple published - who write what I write.
But . . .
. . . the market is still niche. The market is still . . .
. . . limited.
In all fairness, the market shouldn't be limited.
In all fairness, equality should exist for all people.
So, in submitting my query for my cozy mystery, I've begun to wonder if . . .
. . . the main characters weren't gay, would it be more marketable?
If I made the characters heterosexual, would it have more marketability?
If I made the characters female, would it have more marketability?
Okay, perhaps marketable isn't the proper word for the first question. Perhaps the question should be . . .
If the main characters weren't gay, would it be less rejectable?
Yes . . . rejectable.
Is the fact that the characters are gay a deteriment to acceptance?
Then again, perhaps my query just sucks.
I don't know. The more I think about it, the more I talk about it with others, my instinct (normally right, not always right) is telling me that gay is too niche.
So, do I alter the first 20 pages so gay is not so evident, not obvious. Do I do a test and find out whether it's my query, or the gay aspect?
Do I want to know that truth?
I'm not sure.
I'm really not sure.
So, rather than submitting the query further, I've sat back and done, well, nothing. I haven't made the changes in the opening pages that would imply heterosexuality over homosexuality. I haven't researched more agents on the slim (maybe, maybe not) hope that someone will see beyond how the characters were born, to the actual story.
Yes, perhaps I'm being a bit too cynical. I don't know if I am or not. I just don't know.
I do know that one publisher pretty much said that gay is too niche. Go figure. So, scratched that potentiality off my list.
So, what would you do? Would you alter the first 20 pages to imply heterosexuality versus homosexuality? Would you query until you could query no longer?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I'm going to offer tips, what I've learned, what I'm learning, and provide examples along the way, as well as neat info I've discovered.
So if you're interested, if you know someone interested, go ahead and check it out. The first post went up today, and I have posts schedule to appear tomorrow and Friday.
And, since this blog is about writing . . . I'm back into that mode as well as I pull somewhat back from the ancestor research.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Waaaaayyyy tooooooo many!
So, since confession is allegedly good for the soul . . .
I've been consumed with family history research, plus traveling - both personal and for work. My life has been crazy.
Things are finally settling down a bit as I pull away - a bit, a smidgen, a tad - from the family history research. The main search - mother's paternal/maternal sides, going back on the paternal from each grandparent - is done, and a nifty little book, with all sorts of neat information compiled. Woo-hoo. The next project is the many branches of the family tree . . . as well as the twisted roots. Oh, the roots are so twisted or, perhaps, the better analogy: the branches have twisted into each other.
Well, as with any family history research, a skeleton or two tumbles out of the proverbial closet. Okay, we knew about my mother's uncle who shot and killed his wife. She was cheating on him. Mom always tells the story of how excited they were when their uncle that killed his wife got out of prison. Yeah, great thing to be excited about. Ha! Then . . .
. . . there's the mysterious disappearance of my great-grandfather. He went to get a pack of cigarettes . . . okay, kidding on that end. I just remember, from the time I was little, mom and her siblings talking about their missing grandfather and how their father (my grandfather) searched his entire life for him.
Well, lo and behold, one of my cousins also doing research stumbled on a clue about why he might have disappeared. Woo-hoo!
Now, what I knew and what the clue is = INSPIRATION!!! The wheels in my mind have been spinning into overdrive! From the moment I read her email with all the juicy little details, Inspiration has been singing to me non-stop, which . . .
. . . leads to my next project.
Yes, the next project will be a fictionalized version of the disappearance of great-grandpa. Where did he go? What did he do? Did he start a new family? BTW - that was always the assumption in our family since a woman in the same town disappeared the same night he did. Uh-huh, do the math on that one. Ha!
Anyhow, suffice it to say that Inspiration isn't being fickle right now. I have a list of chapter titles, what happens in those chapters, and I wrote the first few pages last night.
I still have some decisions to make with the entire concept, but the groundwork is laid.
Other than that, I'm querying my quirky mystery and may also consider indie or small press publishers since, unfortunately, some might label the book niche because it has gay characters. Go figure! Seriously, a quirky mystery is a quirky mystery, no matter that the amateur and inept, but lucky, detectives just happen to be gay! Geesh!
And, I'll try to do better about blogging . . . and catching up on what I've missed these past few weeks . . . er, maybe longer! Slacker I am!!!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
The second header incorporates a picture I staged at home with the secretary, some old books, a quill and ink pot, and the leather bound journal. I love it, but . . .
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
- Finished the first round of edits on the still untitled project.
- Set tasks for next stage of revision process of still untitled project.
- Began work on one page synopsis - almost done, just need a bit more.
- Researched a few more agents to submit mystery project.
At some point, I need to delve back into the rough draft of Book II of the mystery series - probably sometime this week.
I'm still out here reading blogs and commenting, just not so much right now. I think I just needed a blogcation. Ha!
Hope everyone else is doing well and having a fabulous time writing.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Second - adjectives fall into that pesky little rule category. Follow or ignore, it's all up to you.
Anyhow, I get a daily email from www. dailywritingtips.com. They always have neat emails. Tuesday's email was about adjectives. More importantly, it was about the use of strong versus weak adjectives.
Adamant - hard
Baleful - foreboding
Corpulent - obese
Guileless - innocent
Turgid - swollen
Zealous - eager
Okay, they gave a list of 100, which I'm not repeating here. I think you can find them on their website.
The point - adjectives are not always a bad thing. Sometimes, the lovely little adjective that modifies a noun is, well, adroit (i.e., clever) - Ha!!
So, before you follow the rule about limited use of adjectives, perhaps considering the type of adjective (strong vs. weak) might be a better option.
One personal note - a lot of the strong adjectives are words that a good portion of people wouldn't know right off the top of their heads. In my writing, I consider the following question: do I want my readers to have to stop and look up a word, or should I use a more common word that everybody knows?
I normally take the second option, solely because - well, when not using my Kindle which has a built in dictionary - I don't want to stop, go find the dictionary, look up the word, and get back to reading. It's easier with the Kindle, but, still, don't really like having to look up a strange word.
So, if it twere (yes, twere) me, I would use strong, but identifiable adjectives so my readers don't have to go to extra effort to figure out what the word means.
How about you? Strong or weak adjectives? Do you adhere to the limited use of adjectives rule?
Oh - HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!!!! May you always dance like nobody's watching, and hope they're not videoing it in case you're a really bad dancer. Just saying . . . Ha!!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Jasper Fforde takes a tongue-in-cheek approach, to, well, writing.
In his latest adventure the fictional Thursday Next, not the real one from this world, because in Jasper Fforde's world, the fictional characters are as real as, well, you and I. Uh-huh! Too dang funny.
In this latest adventure - One of our Thursdays is Missing - when the real Thursday Next goes missing, it's up to the fictional Thursday Next (as written by the real Thursday Next) to discover what happened.
Okay, so in the first chapter, one of the fictional characters (yeah, try keeping that straight in your mind) makes the following statement "My author couldn't be bothered to give me one (i.e., backstory)" - p. 2.
Now, the fictional Thursday Next, speaking in the first person . . .
I always appreciated honesty, even as personal as this. There weren't many characters in the BookWorld who had been left unscathed by the often selfish demands of their creators. A clumsily written and unrealistic set of conflicting motivations can have a character in therapy for decades - perhaps forever. (p. 2)
Too, dang funny. And, dear Jasper continues to make jibes like this throughout the entire series. In fact, the endings to the books that we know Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, etc. - well, you'll have to read the series to find out what I'm talking about. Clever, very, very clever.
But, raving about Thursday Next isn't the point of this post. The above italicized paragraph is the point of this post. Oh, and if you read yesterday's post, you don't have to pay attention to this post . . . unless you want to. Ha! Anyhow, the above italicised paragraph demonstrates the following: backstory is a necessary part of writing, as are realistic non-conflicting motivations.
Whether I like to admit it or not, my characters don't begin their existence on Page 1, Page 20, Page 40, or whatever. That might be when they first appear to the reader - fully formed, sometimes clothed, sometimes not - but they had complete lives before the reader first read about Jack and Jill going up the hill. Jack, in fact, was one of seven kids, the middle child, and . . . well, you see, he didn't just appear on Page 1, holding Jill's hand, and going up the hill.
Neither do the characters I write about. I create backstory for them so that - hopefully - my readers can relate to them. For me, backstory happens continually throughout the book, especially when the characters react with family members. Because, trust me on this, there isn't a non-dysfunctional family out there, and there isn't a person that doesn't have a whole lot of emotional baggage dragging along behind them - fictional or real. So, backstory, in small doses, throughout my writing, is how I insure that my fictional characters don't end up in "therapy for decades - perhaps forever" (p. 2)! Ha!!
As for motivation, if it isn't clear to the reader, why keep reading? I mean, Jack and Jill went up the hill to get some water. The motivation is somewhat clear: they obviously needed water. But, what if clearer motivation was provided: they had to get water to put out a fire that Jill started by sneaking cigarettes from her chain smoking momma and, well, she tossed the butt into the dry leaves and - BAM - instant bonfire, which wasn't a good thing, because the pile of leaves was next to the house, and next thing they knew the thatch roof caught on fire and . . .
So, Jill's motivation - besides wanting some nookie from Jack - in going up the hill, was to get the water to put out the fire that she started.
Now, Jill might still end up in therapy. She was chain-smoking at a young age, and had illicit designs on Jack, and there was the whole lie I don't know how the fire started, Momma she told, and . . .
. . . you should hopefully have gotten my point by now. Make sure your characters have backstory, and that the motivation for their actions is clear.
Now . . . Go read the entire Thursday Next series -
The Eyre Affair
Lost in a Good Book
The Well of Lost Plots
Thursday Next: First Among Sequels
One of our Thursdays is Missing
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I'm not an expert and . . . I don't play one on TV. Ha! I'm just a writer, struggling along, and hoping that, one day - hopefully soon - an agent will take notice of my query and ask for more, more, more!
I write to the best of my ability. I read blog after blog, intake the knowledge, shuffle it around a few dozen times . . . and toss out what I don't need.
Because not every don't do this applies to every individual writer.
There isn't a definitive writer's guide that says write this way and you'll succeed. If there was, there would be far less aspiring writers out there in the blogsphere.
There are guidelines - seemingly everywhere - that say do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that and yet . . . if you read debut authors, if you see what they did and didn't do . . . you might find that they ignored all those rules so easily found within the blogsphere.
Hmmmm . . .
No, I'm not advocating tossing aside every rule. I think - maybe know, check back with me on that one - that too much information is a bad, bad thing because, often, with too much information, people begin to second-guess themselves.
Yes, been there, done that.
I can't write like Tolkien.
I can't write like Mary Higgins Clark.
I can write like me, using the knowledge I've gleaned over the years, the blogs I've read, the books I've read, tossing out rules willy-nilly, and nilly-will as well, and writing what feels comfortable to me.
If I follow every piece of advice offered . . . I'm doing myself a disservice. No, I'm not advocating discarding the bits of knowledge. But, I am suggesting, in addition to the many blogs that are so very helpful, to also read, read, and read . . . books, and more books, and more books, and more books, and more books - by established and debut authors, but more so by debut authors.
Not to copy them, emulate them, or any other such thing . . . but to see what rules they broke, how they broke them, and to understand - if that's possible - why it worked for them.
In the end, the craft of writing is finding your own, well, voice.
If you do everything out there on the blogsphere, every bit of advice, you're silencing your voice . . .
. . . because you've stopped listening to yourself, your instinct, and started paying far too much attention to what works for . . .
. . . somebody else.
In the end, it is what works for you (me), the individual writer, that is (perhaps, should) matter most.
The blogs - at least in my opinion, this one included - are meant to guide you . . . and not to silence your voice.
For every rule to follow, there is a person who broke said rule . . . and wasn't struck by lightning.
So, my advice/opinion - soak everything up, but understand, in the end, that you the individual, must do what's best for you . . . and your writing. Sometimes, the voice you create is created from broken rules that might . . .
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Then, there are times when I lose myself in the writing.
Sunday afternoon was one of those times. I sat down at the computer to edit a chapter of two in the Project with no Name (insert sound of big echoy computer voice repeating those words endlessly) and next thing I know . . . 90 minutes had passed.
Same thing last night.
I was lost in my writing. Nothing existed around me except the words on the page in front of me and, well, those synapsing with delight in my brain. Time didn't seem to exist.
These are the writing times I like the best. I love losing myself in my writing, caring about nothing, but the story and characters unfolding in front of me.
I wish every time I wrote was one of those times.
I think the down times, the draggy times, the times when it takes forever to write a paragraph are there to make me truly appreciate when the words do flow and I lose myself.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
But, this post isn't about a favorite song from my quickly fading youth. Oy! Okay, my youth's really not fading quickly . . . I hope.
This post is about a project I started a year ago . . . and haven't titled. That's right, there's no snappy title for this project. I have - gasp, the horrors - title block!! Ha!
For the life of me, I cannot come up with a title for this manuscript. Nothing. Nada. Zip!
I haven't had this problem before. Oh, I've changed titles on projects many times. That's fairly easy to do . . . because I had a starting title.
This time . . . nope, nada, nothing, zippo, zilch!! No title. No clue for the title. No nothing.
My belief - hopefully not mistaken - is that, in time, a brilliant title will come to me.
If it doesn't . . . well, I can see the opening line of the query now: My untitled project is complete at ## words.
Uh-huh, a lead balloon has a better chance of flying than an agent has of not laughing his/her head off and sending me a response email that says AUTO-REJECT!
So, hopefully, somewhere in the nether reaches of my slightly depraved mind, the brain cells plan to synapse sometime in the near future so I'll come up with a title.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Case in point - current project. Friday afternoon I wrote a chapter. This morning I deleted 95% of said chapter.
Because it just wasn't working. I knew it when I wrote it, but I kept on writing it, and, well . . . DELETE!
I didn't trust my instinct on the chapter. Okay, I did, but I didn't, and it's a whole confused mess. Ha!
I knew what I wanted to write, to convey in that particular chapter. I wrote what I thought I wanted to write and convey in that particular chapter. But . . .
. . . it just wasn't working.
Today, I deleted a bunch of paragraphs, rewrote them and . . . voila!!! Yes, the chapter works much better now and also provides the jumping off point for revelatory passages about the victim in this current murder mystery.
There are two perspectives about every person: the known and the unknown. Those perspectives are often shadowed by misperceptions.
By using revelatory passages, I strip away the misperceptions and allow the reader a deeper insight into the victim, one not shadowed by jealousy, dislike, or any of the other factors that cause someone to talk bad about a person.
Why does it matter? Well, to me, as a reader, I want to care about the victim. I want to know who they were beyond the scattered comments of other characters that, quite often, paint a bad portrait of the victim.
So, at least in my murder mysteries, I plan to show who the victim was beyond those bad, often limited comments, that only present the victim in a two-dimensional format.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Okay, maybe a bit more . . .
Every manuscript I write is a bit different. Just like no two snowflakes are alike, no two writing of manuscripts is alike either.
Book I - frenzy! I wrote the rough draft in two weeks.
Book II - a slow progression, but the words are flowing, and I like what I'm writing.
I think the I like what I'm writing is the most important aspect of the writing process. If I don't like it, why am I writing it? If I don't love it, why am I writing it?
Ah, like and love! No, not going all philosophical on you . . . today. I don't have time.
I'm progressing and that's the most important thing (other than having a good hair day, good hair days are especially important) right now.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
So, I don't sit down at the start of the year and say I'm going to do this, that, then this, then that, and so on and so on and so on.
I don't do it!
Okay, I didn't do it.
But, today, while working away at, well work, and thinking about my writing, and thinking about what I've done and what I want to do, well, I thought, maybe this once, a writing goal or three might not be such a crazy idea.
So . . .
1 - query the cozy mystery project.
2 - research some niche market, independent and/or small press publishers for Margarita Nights.
3 - write rough draft of Book II in mystery series.
4 - edit project that currently doesn't have a title.
5 - figure out title for project that doesn't have a title.
So, those are the few goals I've picked to accomplish this year.
The good thing - #1 & #2 & #3 are all in progress. Hey, that's not bad, is it?
#4 & #5 are going to have to wait a bit, because, well, life goes on. Still, it's nice to have a small set of writing goals to get me through the year. I may even add - start a new project - to the list.
I think that setting small goals is the way to go. Forget those ginormous goals. You're just bound to fail if you aim to high. Anybody heard of Icarus? Yeah, I thought so.
I remember getting a Franklin Day Planner years ago, going to a class on how to use the planner, and the instructor telling us: set small goals that you can check off each and everyday, even if it's something as simple as return all AM phone calls by Noon. Yeah, a simple goal, and yet something I could achieve and, well, check off my daily to-do list.
So, I've done that with my writing goals. I've set achievable goals and some goals, not listed, that are going to take more effort.
In the end, I can hopefully look back and say: hey, look at that, I achieved every goal on my list . . . and then some.
How about you? Do you set writing goals? Do you aim to high? What are some of your goals?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
So, this is what I've done with my current project, which is Book II in my mystery series. I took a situation that occurred in the town I live in a few years ago and went, what if . . .
I must say, this whole what if thing is kind of fun. I have a real life event that I'm putting my own spin on using just the basics of the actual event to provide motive for the murder that takes place on the first page of the manuscript.
Will I always use this technique? Probably not. The idea for Book III (which, once upon a time was Book II, but is now Book III - long story) came from a rumor of something that has been going on for a while and, well, provided the motive for murder. I just love it when that happens.
The fact is, life is full of situations that, for a writer, can provide the motive for murder . . .
. . . an argument witnessed on a street corner.
. . . an argument between co-workers.
. . . the sighting of a former, hateful, boss at a movie.
. . . the arrest of a public official.
. . . the . . .
Well, you should get the picture. Life is full of so many events that, with a bit of a warped imagination (mine's a bit more warped than most peoples) . . . anything can happen.
Friday, February 18, 2011
As every reader knows by know, I'm about to query. I've gotten the Query Ninja's (Elana) stamp of approval on my query and I've picked out three agents to query.
Yep, only three at this point.
The question I asked myself last night is why those three agents.
The second question I asked my self - Self, should you put 'why' you're querying said agents in your query letter? Okay, I didn't really ask myself that question. Okay, maybe I did.
I could just see this line in my query: I've admired you from afar (well, from the blogsphere). Then, I could see a restraining order in my immediate future. Scratch that line. Ha!
Then, how do I put what made me choose that agent - the why - in my query without, well, seeming to, well, suck up, kiss butt, whatever to said agent?
Yeah, that's a tricky one, isn't it?
So, one of the agents I'm planning on querying mentions on their site that they're looking for projects with a unique voice or look and something important to say. Woo-hoo! They just described my project. So, my line in the intro is going to be: I feel that TITLE OF BOOK is perfect for your agency because it has a unique voice (then again, doesn't every author think their project has a unique voice?) and something important to say. Yeah, I don't think that line's going to be added to my query any time in the near future either. Can you say AUTO-REJECT! Well, maybe not, but still . . . the line might be a bit too flip, a tad snarky . . . but so am I.
That little dilemma brought up the question: do I sterilize my query so much, that who I am as an individual - a bit flip at times, more than a tad snarky - doesn't show through?
I hate writing essays - formal, dull, boring. So, in college, I began to take chances with my essays - less formal, a bit snarky, and . . . I got great grades on the papers. I had one professor come up to me in the hallway and tell me she absolutely LOVED what I did with the essay, and that she howled with laughter (in a good way) when reading my paper. To me, that was the ultimate praise, because I put me in my essay.
I want to put me in my query.
Anyhow, I'm digressing more than Sophia Petrillo did in seven seasons of The Golden Girls.
I chose the first agent because of the concepts listed on their website, and because of the posts on the blog that, at least in my opinion, carried the same outrage, irreverence, and passion that I put into my posts when I'm, well, outraged. After reading those posts - I followed the blog first - I investigated the agency a bit more and realized I wanted to query said agent.
The second and third agents I found through blogs I follow. There was something about each agent that, well, spoke to me. There was something they said on their sites, in the interviews, that clicked with me. Yeah, they also represent my genre, but . . . that wasn't the primary reason I chose any of those agents.
So, with all this rambling on a Friday morning, my question to those who have agents, and those looking for agents: Why do you choose who you choose? Solely because they represent your genre? Or, is there some deeper reason? Please comment away.
Have a great Friday.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Query Letter - done and done. Why done and done? Well, I had to write two letters. The one agent I plan on querying has very specific instructions on what he wants. So, first letter is more narrow, more defined. The second letter is a bit broader. Then again, I might not need the second letter. One just never knows. Ha!
I'm almost finished with the read through. I should finish up tomorrow. Other than the one chapter mentioned in Monday's post, the changes really have been minimal. I'll probably go through doing a word search - that, very, just, and a few other words - over the course of the weekend. For the most part, I'm not worried about the word very because I purposely used it in some instances. In other instances, as I've done the read through, I've eliminated the word.
The tone of this project is a bit irreverent. It's not some formal piece of work that will bore my readers. At least I hope it's not a formal piece of work that will bore my readers. Okay, I know it's not a formal piece of work that will bore my readers. My betas loved the manuscript. Okay, they loved the main character, and the manuscript.
Still, I think part of the charm - yeah, narrow perspective here - of the manuscript is the irreverence of the writing. Hopefully, said irreverence will charm agents everywhere. One can hope.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
This was a great book. I think it falls into the paranormal romance genre, but . . . it's just a great book. Yeah, there's some romance, but that's not the main premise of the book.
Here's what I loved . . .
- Bridget Bishop - first witch killed during the Salem Witch Trials, who also happens to be an ancestor of a good friend of mine - is mentioned in the book. In fact, the main character is a direct descendent of Bridget Bishop. So, first and foremost, I'm intrigued because I actually know someone descended from Bridget Bishop. That qualifies as a neat-o factor.
- Vampires - the author (Deborah Harkness) takes the been there, done that vampire and . . . puts her own unique spin on them that is incredibly believable and realistic. I love her spin on the vampires.
- Complexity - this story is complex and intriguing and . . . so many other things.
- Slow Read - no, this isn't a bad thing. I kept thinking the book was a slow read until I realized the reason why: I was absorbing everything, immersing myself in the present day world she created. I was lingering over the words. That is why it was taken me so long to read the book, and not because it was uninteresting.
- Page Turner - even though I was lingering, absorbing, immersing, I also couldn't wait to turn the page to find out what would happen next.
Okay, those are only some of the things I loved about this book. It is rare for me to find I book I can't put down, that I want to read and read and read and read and . . . This was one of those books. I was sad to reach the end. I wanted more.
Did I mention the main character is a historian? Did you know Isaac Newton was a . . . well, I'm not going to give that little tidbit away, but . . . the author cleverly plays with historical facts. Absolutely fantastic.
So, if you want a good book to read, go and get this one (which is also available for Kindle, and probably other e-formats as well).
Monday, February 14, 2011
In doing my read through, as any reader of this blog already knows, I've been correcting minor things here, there, and everywhere throughout the manuscript.
Yesterday, a bit more than minor tweaking occurred in one particular chapter. You see, in writing this mystery, I had to make sure the clues pieced together to form a precise picture. This isn't always easy. Trust me on that one. In this one chapter, the specific connections I created between the suspects, and the detective, and another character didn't exist like they should have. Eeek!
You see, what happened during the rough draft process was . . . I created the connections toward the end of the rough draft writing process and not the beginning. That's how my mind works. So, in this read through, I get to this chapter and realize a lot of the chapter doesn't make sense because I'm not paying attention to all those connections.
Delete. Delete. Delete.
Revamp. Revamp. Revamp.
Now, all the connections are neatly tied together, past relationships and all that jazz, so that the comment of one character makes sense. Woo-hoo!
This, dear readers, is why we, as writers, aspiring or otherwise, do not query the rough draft.
This, dear readers, is why we, as writers, aspiring or otherwise, do multiple read throughs of our manuscripts before we even give serious thought to querying.
Writing, as I've said over and over again, well, written over and over again, is a process. It is not a race to the finish line, but rather a slow progression to the finish line.
Patience - allegedly - is a virtue, and patience in the writing process should, hopefully, mean that by the time I query, I have the most polished manuscript I'm capable of, well, polishing.
Friday, February 11, 2011
Yesterday, reading a book, my mind partway in the book and, obviously, somewhere else as well, a sentence formed.
Okay, it started a bit earlier than that. I was reading the book, a descriptive passage about the interior of a room, and my mind started to wander a bit - here, there, and everywhere. Suddenly, I'm opening up a Word document and typing a brief description of a room and, well, a scene that seemed to form at the same time.
Then, later in the day, immersed back in the book, a sentence formed in my mind. The sentence - at least as it stands here/now - is the opening sentence to a project I began working on a few months ago.
I've already written quite a few chapters on the project, but I set it aside as life intervened and my mystery project once again demanded all my attention. Still, the project rested in the nether reaches of my mind . . . waiting, waiting, waiting . . . until it could wait no more and leaped to the forefront.
The sentence leaped out, did a little dance, and away my fingers went, flying across the keyboard and typing out the new opening sentence.
Oh, this isn't just any opening sentence. This is THE sentence. THE ONE! Okay, maybe not . . . but, this sentence is twofold: it's the current opening sentence and it's the hook for the book. Woo-hoo, two birds with one stone.
And that, dear readers, is my post for today. Have a great day and weekend!
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
45 minutes. That's all I had. So . . . fine tuned my query, sent it back off to the Query Ninja for review and . . . started this blog post.
It's all about finding the time, even if it's only 30 minutes here or there between doing other things.
Did I mention that I really didn't have 45 minutes? No, I didn't. Why? Well, casserole was in the oven, but there were other things to do before dinner was really ready. So, knock off about 10 minutes. Oh, did I mention a phone call while I was working on the query? Yes, a phone call. Yes, I had to answer it. Subtract some more time.
Okay, so time is of the essence and it's disappearing faster than the hair on my head. Dang genetics.
How do you do it? How do you fit time for writing in your hectic schedule? Comment away.
BTW - my query is done. I have about 100 pages left to read through. Soon I'll be standing on the precipice of the great Query Chasm.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The end sentence of the post: See social media as a way to connect with people who matter to you.
I don't Tweet. Okay, I do, but my tweets are few and far between. To me, Twitter is what my old boss called a time thief. Okay, he wasn't referring to Twitter because, well, it didn't exist back then. Time Thiefs to him, were the marketing reps who came into the office and wanted to sell us their products. Personally, I liked the time thiefs because they normally took me to lunch. I'm all about free lunch. Just saying . . . Ha!!
The main premise of the above blog is When you do interesting stuff—when you have something to say, a message to spread, or a story to tell—then social media makes more sense.
Exactly! Blogging, tweeting, Facebook shouldn't be something I feel I have to do, but something I want to do.
I think one of the reasons I pulled back from blogging for a while was because it became something I had to do, not something I wanted to do.
I have to work to pay my bills. I have to watch what I eat because otherwise I'll weigh 300 pounds . . . or more. I have to . . . well, you get the picture. I don't have to blog. I started to blog originally, my other blog not this one, because I had something to say. I started this blog, well, because I had something to say as well. In time, this blog become a duty, a requirement, something that lacked fun and excitement.
Twitter - oh, Twitter, you steal my time from me. I feel that I have to be on Twitter 24/7 or I'll miss something. So, I take the other extreme . . . I rarely get on Twitter. Yes, I know, I can interact with people in the literary field - agents, editors, writers (published and aspiring). Yes, I should be more Twitterfied. I'm not. Maybe one today.
Facebook - I love me some Facebook. I love connecting with friends, old and new. I find Facebook easy to manage.
So, in the end, I'm going to do what's best for me: some blogging, more Facebook, and an occasional jaunt into Twitterville every now and then.
How about you? Do you do all three social medias? If not, which ones do you do and . . . why?
Friday, February 4, 2011
Okay, it's not that great either, but it's part of the writing process and . . . this too shall pass.
I look at the query and the synopsis like I did algebra in high school: it's not something I love doing, but it's necessary . . . and I'm not going to graduate without it. Basically: I have no choice, so buck up.
I'm currently at work on the one page synopsis, then I'll move on to the more detailed synopsis, and then . . . well, hopefully, my synopsizing will be done.
So, one page synopsis - list the major events. This is easy because I have a Table of Contents with clever (at least in my warped mind) titles that mark out the major events in the title. Woo-hoo!
So, what I did last night was list all the major events (i.e. chapter titles containing major events) on a piece of paper which I'll flesh out into proper sentences later on because . . . I can't very well submit a bullet point synopsis with chapter titles. Yes, I'd love to do this, but . . . such an action could well get me black-listed from agentdom and I don't want that to happen. Still, these titles do make my job a bit easier . . . kind of like the cute tutor helping me out with my algebra back in high school.
What I also did yesterday, bullet point style, was list out both the major and minor events to help me with the longer synopsis.
* Major Event 1
* Minor Event
* Major Event 2
* Minor Event
* Minor Event
* Major Event 3
Well, you get the point . . .
So, that's where I am right here and now with my current project.
Other updates: query letter (faux and real) sent off to the Awesome Elana for review. She rocks, by the way!!!). The faux query is, well, the query I'd like to send, but also the one that would get me blacklisted in agentdom. Sigh!!
Have a great weekend.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
My wish for the groundhog: may he not see his shadow. Enough with winter already.
Here's my progress - 1/2 way through second read through.
That's it . . . have a nice day. Kidding.
I am about 1/2 way through the first read through. I haven't found any major things to change - just some wrong words (as mentioned in my previous post) and a lack of a word within a sentence . . . or five, well, maybe seven . . . but who the heck's counting? Okay, me, but that's beside the point.
I have one agent - so far - picked out to query. Yeah, only one, but there are a host (well, not really a host so to speak, but a few, well, maybe many) of others that I need to double check information on and see if they have any special requests regarding queries.
Why special requests? Well, because first agent I plan to query wants the following: intro, pitch (one paragraph is fine), and bio. This is not your standard query letter, dear readers. To me, this is a dream. I have the pitch down pat. Well, I hope I have the pitch down pat. You just never know. Still, this query is a bit easier than others where I have to provide a bit more information. So . . . I'm in a quasi-happy place.
Yeah, that happiness will dissipate when - maybe if, one just never knows - I have to send out more queries. Still, for now, I'm enjoying the brief respite from a more lengthy query letter.
Now, my question: does intro mean title, genre, and word count or does it mean something else entirely? Thoughts? Opinions? Words of wisdom?
On that note, dear readers, . . .
Monday, January 31, 2011
Because, last time I checked, I was human and I miss things.
Example: Katherine wanted to know if he learned anything knew.
What's wrong with above sentence? Different word, right sound . . . wrong for the sentence!
So, changed knew to new and all was right with the world. Okay, all was right with the sentence. The world, last time I checked, was in sore need of some fixing!
So, multiple read throughs of a manuscript are important because we - I - miss things. For me, that's the Number One reason not to jump the gun and submit a first, second or third draft of a manuscript for query. You - I - are going to miss something, and that something (knew vs. new) could make the difference between an agent saying Yay versus Nay.
Then again, it might not. I don't know enough about agents to make that statement with 100% accuracy.
This writing journey I have taken on, this joy in my life, isn't a race to the finish. It's a slow progression from start to finish with many stops on the way. It doesn't matter if others out there have agents or success before me. All that matters is that I do the best I can.
In order for me, nobody else, to do that best, I need the multiple read throughs. I need the slow and steady pace to ensure that when I do query, when the agent ask for my manuscript, I am submitting the best manuscript I can to said agent. I don't want him/her to come across the sentence above and write me off as inexperienced. I want said agent to come across the correct sentence and somehow - fingers crossed - know that I take this writing journey seriously.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Anyhow, finally settled on an HP because they had the best deal out there. I even purchased Office 2010.
Love It! I'm a Word junkie. Yes, I know, there are other programs out there. I love Word. In fact, Word 2010 has a nifty navigation bar that appears on the left hand side of the screen.
What's so nifty, you may - probably not - be thinking? Well, since I have a table of contents, that's what shows up in the navigation bar. So, I can just click on the chapter title and POOF there I am. Voila!!! LOVE IT! This makes editing so much easier.
The other nifty tool on my new computer is Sticky Notes. Basically, it's an electronic post it note that appears on the desktop. You know what I do with them? I write what chapter is next to edit. No more start here inserted into the document so I have to do a Find in Word. Nope! Now, I just open Word, look at the navigation panel, click, and poof there I am, right where I left off. Woo-hoo!
So, that's the post today. Yeah, not a lot about writing, but . . . nifty little tools do come in handy in the writing process. Sticky Notes is my new best friend.
As for the writing . . . I started the read through the other night. I changed a few words, deleted a sentence or two, but, so far, nothing major. I hope to get through a good portion of the read through this weekend and then get back to work on my query next week.
I hope everybody's had a good week and has an even better weekend.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Other than that . . .
Procrastination. I realize I've been procrastinating.
I haven't finished my query.
I haven't finished my synopsis.
I haven't done the next read through.
In fact, in regards to writing, I've done little to nothing in weeks.
That changes tonight. No TV, no personal reading, no nothing until I pull out the current manuscript and read the first few chapters.
Time's a'wasting, dear readers, and I'm not getting any younger!
I need to set my fears - yes, I think it's fear that is causing me to procrastinate - aside and just get on with it. I know the story is good. My beta readers loved the story. My beta readers all want to spend time with the main character. Hey, I don't think a writer can get a much higher compliment than the words: I love (insert main character's name)!
So, with all that said, I still haven't finished the query, the synopsis, or the next read through.
I think I just needed a break, some time for me, and now it's time to delve back in, dive into the trenches, polish that coal until it's a diamond, write the query, the synopsis, finish the read through, and send off those dang query letters.
How about you? How's your writing progressing? What exciting gem of brilliance are you working on right now? How about dem Bears? So close, and yet so far away!!
Monday, January 24, 2011
The characters I write must do the same. They can't just stand immobile throughout the course of the book.
But . . .
Action is a tricky thing. Too much action = confusion. Case in point . . .
Katherine stood up and walked across the room. She stood in front of the bay window that overlooked the expansive acreage of her Belle Meade property. The house itself, a massive Tudor was impressive enough, but magnificent when combined with the forested property. “My son was out and proud, as out and proud as you could get, much to the detriment of our family name, and much to the glee of my society friends. Oh, how, they loved it when they found out the high and mighty Katherine Deluca, she of the wickedest tongue in Nashville, had a gay son. They delighted in my shame and horror.” She turned around. “I delighted in becoming the proudest PFLAG member ever. You should have seen the horror on my society friends’ faces when I invited every drag queen in town to the charity lunch.” She laughed softly. “Yes, a bit petty on my part, but I am the Bitch of Belle Meade, after all. I do need to live up to my horrible reputation.” She turned back around. “My son was quite vocal in his activism. He outed more than one prominent member of Nashville society. He has a blog, the address is in the folder. Check it out. You’ll understand my son far better by reading his blog than by anything I can tell you.” She turned around again, her hands clasped in front of her. “Is this a typical hate crime? Was my son attacked for being gay?” She shrugged. “I don’t know. I do know, the word faggot etched on his forehead was intentional. That, dear detectives, make this a hate crime in my book. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Question: without looking back at the passage, which direction is Katherine facing - toward Peter or out the window?
Yeah, I guessed it - you have no clue. Neither do I and I wrote the passage. I made a very - at least in my opinion - common error: too much action in too little space. Yes, Katherine, for all intents and purposes, needed to turn around once or twice . . . just not so many times that dear brilliant - ha - author here is confused and, ultimately, so are the readers.
So, lesson learned: too much action isn't a good thing. Less is more! Okay, I didn't come up with that gem of brilliance on my own, but it is a good one and something that I will pay much more attention to in future writing endeavors and in the editing process.
How about you? Too much action in one scene? Are you and your characters confused about their position? Forward? Backwards? Sideways? How many times can one character turn around in one paragraph? Ha!
So, words of advice from yours truly: don't confuse yourself or potential readers with two much action in one paragraph/scene. Limit the action to the necessary and delete the unnecessary!
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I'm back from vacation. I miss the sun and sand already. Heck, I missed it the moment the plane landed back home amid the rainy and cold day that greeted me.
Reality stinks most times! Ha!
So, I'm about to delve back into another read through of the manuscript before I put the final touches on the query letter and get back to work on the synopsis. I have two posts in mind for later in the week and, hopefully, I'll get those pre-written and scheduled to post tonight. I think I've caught up on some of the sleep I missed during my FL vacation. Let me tell you, 4 - 5 hours of sleep per night takes it's toll after six days. OY!
On that note, back to work - you know, the job that pays me so I can pay my bills - and digging out my desk after a week off. Geesh!
Monday, January 3, 2011
The last few weeks of the year were spent reading and not writing. I pulled myself - almost - totally away from writing. I needed a break. I needed distance. I needed time for me, to gel, to reenergize, to just have a break from pretty much anything to do with writing.
Now, the New Year here, the sun shining, the temps frigid, it's time to delve back into the writing process, or, more importantly the editing, finish the query, finish the synopsis, research more agents process.
Editing so far and yet to come . . .
- Beta Readers Comments Received and Read
- Read through without correcting a thing - done!
- Typos and incomplete sentences fixed - done!
- Second read through without correcting a thing - should get underway later this week.
- Review Beta Readers comments and debate pros/cons of making some changes based on reader feedback - will happen this week. Heck, will start happening in a few minutes.
- Respond to Beta Readers questions - sometime today.
- Go through MS sent back from Beta Reader with typos and incomplete sentences highlighted and red flagged - yeah, she went overboard! Ha! - I should start on this later today, and will work on it throughout the week. Hopefully, between my corrections already, there won't be many things to fix. Hopefully.
Next week - off to FL for an annual trip with a group of friends, so very little writing will occur. Okay, no writing at all will probably occur from the time I leave and the time I get back. Ha!
So, I ease back in this week, a blog post here or there, editing everywhere, back to work, and just life in general.
I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year and may this year be filled with happiness and dreams come true.