I write a novel and then edit, and edit, and edit some more.

Thursday, January 29, 2009
I wrote entire trilogy for The Priestess Prophecy in a year (that's like 400,000 words). I spent the next year editing only the first book.

I wrote The Last Witch in one month--I've been editing it for about a year.

I am getting faster. My first draft is tighter and better written, so it's not as much work to polish it. I believe I'll get faster with each novel (so far that's been true), but writing is the fun part. Editing is the work.

At the moment, I'm halfway through Last Witch. I'm hoping my first readers will have time to go through it before I send it to my agent.

Deadline is in about four or five weeks.

How about you? What's your ratio like between editing and writing?

I'm excited about writing again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I've had some ongoing health problems in the past 6 months, and honestly, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever have the same passion for writing that I once had. I sat at my computer and wanted nothing more than to go to sleep. Editing was the worst. But since receiving some hope from my agent and getting healthy, I'm writing hard again. I want to have 200 pages totally edited in less than 2 months. I'm averaging around 10-12 pages a day, depending on how much work needs done.

At that rate, I should meet my deadline.

Right now, I'm wondering if I want to rework the two chapters that switch to the hero's POV. What do you guys think about an occasional switch (for a chapter) to another character? Does it bug you to read it, or does it add insight into another character's thoughts?

It was one of those things that just doesn't happen.

Friday, January 23, 2009
I called my agent, Al Longden, yesterday and left a message on his voicemail for him to call me.

So I looked at the clock today. 4:30. That makes it 6:30 in NY, right? Great, I think. I won't hear anything until after the weekend. I glare at the phone, silently trying to use the force to make it ring.

It does.

Weird. But no way it's my agent.

The caller ID flashes: Longden, A T.

My eyes widen. Huh? Stuff like that only happens in books . . . or lame movies.

I pick up the phone and hear a masculine voice.

Sure enough, it's my agent. We spoke for about 15 minutes.

Conversation rundown:
He ran spellcheck and did some minor grammar edits.
He used some of my query, but tweaked a few things.
He sent my MS out in Oct.
He's going into the city in two weeks and plans on dropping by the editors.
None of the ten editors have rejected my MS yet (he says that's a good sign, because sometimes they'll reject it after only the first 3 chapters).
He believes I have a 50/50 chance that one or more of these publishers will say yes.
If they all say no *cringe* then he plans on sending it out to another ten or so.
But we want one of these 10, because they're bigger/give out bigger advances, etc. (and Amber needs a van)!

I'm trying really hard not to get excited until after I hear the magic word: YES!

I don't do New Years Resolutions.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Why is it that every year people ask me what my New Years Resolutions are? I've never been able to understand the concept. Seems more like a procrastinators way of trying to get something done.

I'm kinda the opposite of a procrastinator. I'm a git 'er done type a girl. Why?

Because then I don't have to worry about it anymore. I'm free.

I set goals all the time, and I work at them daily. So just to silence all the queries, here's my current list:

1. Finish editing Witch Song and submit it to my agent before my baby is born.
2. Finish all my "nesting" cleaning (in case you're wondering--that means completing the 50 bullets list of things like: wash down all the walls in my house, clean out the garage, vacuum all the corners, wash the floorboars/windows/cupboards . . . you get the idea).
3. Apologize to husband and other children for ignoring/abandoning during said cleaning and try to make it up to them.

And last, but not least:

4. Find more joy in my life (I WILL FIND IT! Even if I have to kill someone to get it!)

Uglies by Scott Westerfield

Saturday, January 17, 2009
This is one of the best books I've ever read. It was very well balanced between pace, plot, character, style, etc.

I picked it up and didn't stop until I'd finished at 1 am. Then I lay in bed the whole night thinking about the book's themes.

One of those themes: If someone handed you the rock star life ($, clothes, beauty, popularity, everything--kinda like Extreme Makeover), but you had to give up the "deeper stuff"--including the struggles--would you?

It seems like such an rhetorical question. But think about it. People make that choice every day (plastic surgery because large breast are currently "popular" (they weren't always. Manly women were supposed to birthe sons)). Especially teenagers. Do you want to be popular, or do you want to stand up for who you are--even if it makes your life harder.

Each has a consequence.

But boil it down even further--do you take the easy road, or the hard road?

Do you shovel your traveling neighbor's driveway, even if he's never done it for you?

Do you help a fledgling writer with the ropes, even though you don't have much time?

Do you take care of yourself and your body?

Do you send nasty emails to agents that have rejected you?

As you can see, the book really got me thinking.

Go out and read it, then let me know what you think.


Writing Contests--blah!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The phrase Writing Contest brings to mind one word: Argh!

Let me explain.

My writing time is precious. So when a contest wants me to take time away from my novel to write a short story, it's asking a lot. Plus, I must admit, I can't write short stories. I've tried, but they always end up turning into a novel. I keep coming up with more plot twists and depth. I just can't stop at 20 pages.

When they ask for the first 20 pages instead, I'm not so disinclined, but . . .

You don't get much for your effort. I won 2nd at a local Writer's Conference, and I received 1 basket of books I never would have read (I gave all of them away), and a gift certificate for a local movie theater--even though I live 3 hours away from the location (Michelle--maybe I should mail them to you. I think you're closer).

Now, I figure I spent more money on printing and postage than I received from the contest.

This is not to say that contests are totally w/o merit. If you place, it can increase your confidence. IF the judges are competent, you will have some helpful feedback (I say if because some of the feedback I've received was downright wrong--or even marked as wrong when it was a matter or "taste." For instance, one judge corrected grammar "problems" that were correct the first time. Another docked me 20 out of 100 points because she didn't think my MS "fit" in the genre (It did. You just didn't see the paranormal aspect in the 10 pages she reviewed).

Anyway, my experience, at least with the smaller contests, has not been positive.

Hopefully, you've all had much better experiences.

Writing, at its essense, is a balancing act.

Friday, January 9, 2009
First of all, you must have the ability to craft a powerful/exciting/engaging plot.

I can teach grammar. I can teach writing. But at the essence of every writer, there has to be a natural storyteller. Because I can't teach it.

I tried. But saying, "Your story sucks," even as nicely as possible, doesn't usually get you very far.

Neither does, "Don't write again. Ever. Really."

Okay, I'm kidding. I would never say that to someone. But I have seen people that really didn't have the talent. They were like the awkward kids in gym class who couldn't even even run without falling, and yet they tried out for the sports teams.

Can they get better?


Can they ever reach a competitive level/publishable?

Probably not for 20 or so years.

So what separates the "best" writers from the "average" ones?


Like so many things in life, the best authors craft a story that is strong in ALL these areas:

1. Story--compelling storyline. This is what keeps the reader turning pages.
2. Grammar--when done right, this facilitates the reader's understanding and DOES NOT distract from the story.
3. Characters--balanced, real (as opposed to perfectly good or evil), and individual (as opposed to cookie cutter or indistinguishable)
4. Exposition--the story is revealed neither to quickly, leaving the reader confused, or too slowly, leaving the reader bored.

I could go on with this list (and feel free to add something you think of). Even expand on the ones already written, but I think this explains my point. Have you ever read a story that lacked in one of these areas? Or where one trait excelled to the point that it distracted from the others (the characters inner thoughts dominate to the point where you forget what the story is about).

Some authors, like my absolute favorite--Shannon Hale, are great writers that excel in one area . Shannon is a master at creating similes. BUT she's great at all the rest as well.

She's an example of a balanced writer.

And just in case your wondering, that's how you know if you've reached a publishable level.

If it's balanced.

Double spacing after periods and other random info

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Michelle had some great tips on her post: http://theinnocentflower.blogspot.com/2009/01/sounds-of-silence-almost.html

I'm posting my thoughts here.

She mentions that double spacing after a period is old school. We just do one now. If you've made the mistake of doing it throughout your novel, just do a find and replace. In the find type two spaces. In the replace type one. It will fix the whole thing with minimal effort. And you will type faster. Always a plus.

She also has the great idea of making a location Thesaurus--a first hand account of certain locations for use in our novels. I think it's a great idea. Head over to her blog if you have any first hand experience with certain places. For instance, my sister-in-law has lived in Spain, Columbia, Brazil, Boston, and Washington DC. She'd know if the city was noisy, dangerous, dirty, poor, sprawling, tall, etc.

This is why we don't have parties after my kids go to bed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
So my husband and I are relaxing on the couch, watching The Guardian, when my kids, who should have been asleep by now, are screaming.

I sit there, hoping it will go away. Magically resolve itself, like the clutter in my garage--if I ignore it, it will go away.

I hear 3 year old screaming, "Moooommmmaaa. Brover's gooot maaaaaa cappppppe" Translation: "Momma, brother's got my cape."

In yet another attempt to avoid moving my behind from it's rather soft resting place, I holler back, "#1, leave your brother alone!"

I wait a few moments. Something crashes. Wails increase. I think something just fell down the stairs. I'm pretty sure it wasn't one of my kids. Too much banging.

Untangling myself from my warm, softy, oh so comfy blanket, I stomp up the stairs.

The sight that greets me is a ball of rolling arms and legs entangled to the point they are indistinguishable.

Grabbing one batman collar, and one superman one, I pull them apart. "What's going on?"

3 yr old, tears streaming down his face, cries, "Brover stoooole my caaape!" (I won't retranslate here).

I level a "give me the truth" look at 6 yr old.

He refuses to meet my gaze. "I wasn't stealing it. I was taking it from so he wouldn't play with it anymore and go to sleep." All of this was delivered in one breath.

I take a deep breath and jerk the cape from 6 yr old's clutchs. "Leave your brother alone, or I'm shutting your door." This is of course, the ultimate punishment because it blocks the hall light (they take apart nightlights to "see how they work"--we gave up years ago) from my children's bedrooms (all of their doorknobs are of course reversed so we can lock them in "time out.")

This is, of course, a typical night at my house.

Wanna come over for game night?

I'm a writer, not an editor.

Saturday, January 3, 2009
I've been trying to get The Last Witch completely edited so I can turn it into my agent. Thing is, I'm easily obsessed with writing the new story. It's exciting, intense, and raw.

Kinda like making a baby versus raising one. It's still fun to raise them, but man, they are a lot of WORK.

Umm . . . sorry, but that's the analogy I came up with (probably because I'm really tired of being pregnant).

Each of my stories has been like raising a child. They say the first book is the hardest. And so far that's been true. I've learned a lot and been able to steer clear of some of the mistakes made in my early writing.

But unlike a baby who vocally insists on being fed every three hours, my finished story sits silent on the computer while the new story beckons. Urging me to give its characters a voice, to unearth their tale.

But I told my agent I'd have the MS to him in a month (trying to give myself a deadline--what the . . . um, heck, was I thinking).

Somebody kick me in the butt to get going, eh?

Anybody want to trade pages?
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