Thursday, July 29, 2010

Days Continue

More days continue with more work to do in less time, more rejections on the book, and life sucking more out of me than I really want to give. I keep thinking that there is an end to all the madness at some point. An end that doesn't entell death. Hehehe... Yeah I'm morbid. Did I mention that I used to write macbre and horror in my youth. Perhaps that is why my mother never read anything I wrote... Go figure.

I've slacked off the writing for a few days while the air conditioning is restored to the house. Not that I am actually writing/editing in the house, but after spending hours in a hot house in the middle of summer I'm not really in the mood to write outstanding prose.

The air is fixed and I am in a better mood - now I'm just wondering where that outstanding prose is lurking. I've decided to visit my local Starbucks establishment for a bit of inspiration and an infusion of activity. And would you believe - its not an ice box today. Well think I'll sign off from blogging so that I can focus on the writing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

TX in July

Wow, it's amazing how hard heat is on things. Texas weather is hot - +95F and over 40% humidity. This weekend the AC on the house decides it is giving up and retiring. On a weekend. Couldn't have done it on a week day when we can call service. Really inconvenient. And to top it off SB has to crank up the AC so cold I can't sit inside for more than an hour without suffering hypothermia.

Oh was I supposed to write about the book??

It's there. Waiting patiently for me to continue editing chapter 16. Removing those pesky crutch words. Still no word for the partials I have out there. Guess its time to send out more queries.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Update

Into July 2010 and the weeks have flown by without a post to my blog. Life puts incredible demands on ones time and efforts. One must work to survive and to live one must survive. At this point I am stuck in the survival mode. Days pass by in a blur with only an occasional respite to reflect on the living part. I have not backed off from the RABBIT SLAYER - in fact I've been surging forward.

I currently have several queries floating out in cyberspace and have two agents currently reviewing part of my manuscript. Patience is once again a lesson I am having to learn. The two agents looking at the story have indicated it may be up to 10 weeks before I get a response. Ouch. Until then I'll continue to chug away and polishing the book. From past readers I have learned that I did not eliminate all of my crutch words. I use the pronoun "she" extensively - so I am rewriting many sentences to remove excess. Many of the critiques I received commented that I also rely too much on the passive "was". I've found it difficult not to use the word entirely, but I have learned how to use it sparingly. As for the "that" and "had" words, I've also learned that if the sentence sounds correct without the word - delete them.

I'm currently reviewing chapter 16 and seem to be able to do at least two chapters a day if I can remain focused on the task. I've gotten little response from the 25 or so Beta readers I gave the story to, but I think the work is at a point where the readers will not provide additional benefit. I know the story line is sound, the imagery is decent, and my character development is unique for each. Sub-plots and cliff hangers move the story forward and drive the reader to continue.

I think my trouble with getting responses from beta readers stem from reading online. Sitting at a computer for hours at a time reading a book isn't appealing to most people. I know that the eBook thing is kicking off and has a strong following, but unfortunately Kindle doesn't load pdf files - and even if it did none of my beta readers own one. I have promised a teenage boy in PA that I would send the book to him. Other than him and my wife I'll keep the story to myself and agents until it is published. (Notice I am trying to be positive in saying that it WILL be published.)

Oh and if anyone knows how to center the picture in the header - PLEASE tell me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The KEWL Factor

Somtime during the writing of RABBIT SLAYER I wrote a sort of short story based on the my characters. The story originally was the opening sequence before I morphed it into an event that would occur AFTER the story. Either way I felt it was cool. Lots of action and was filled with graphic descriptions. On a whim I sent it to an English teacher for his opinion. After reading the story he introduced me to the KEWL factor.

KEWL, as he put it, is writing a scene for the reason of being cool - or desiring a shock value. When the writer places more attention and description on the action than on the rest of the piece (s)he had introduced the KEWL factor. It's an interesting concept and one I have tried to keep aware of since then. You'll see kewl in many high action or high graphical effect movies. Tim Burton's new adaptation of Carroll's classic is an example of where the visuals over shadowed the story. The movie went from cool to kewl.

Recently I have been reading others work in my online critque groups. I enjoy a good action book - one of my favorite geners - but I have been seeing more kewl than cool. It is easy to picture writers salivating as they write these supercharged, adreniline filled scenes with little attention to story itself. Blowing shit up my look cool in Hollywood, but in a book there should be a reason for why the explosion occurs. Let's face facts here - shooting a gas tank in a car with a pistol will not create a massive fire ball that will burn down a half the city. THAT is KEWL not COOL.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Itch to Write

The long weekend is over and I'm back at work. Even though its a short week I'm dreading the Monday(ish) blues. But I'm not here to write about this upcoming week, instead, I'd like to reflect on the past weekend and the itch to write.

I've stayed out of the RABBIT SLAYER for nearly two weeks with only an occassional edit here and there as I get trickles of feedback from beta readers. My mind has drifted over what to write next. I have thought about the next step in Emily's life and I have thought about the history of the Alice Legacy. I want to start the next book (even if this one doesn't sell). The only question is where to go.

I feel that a writer must write what he or she feels most passionate about. If that is the case then I write the beginning of the Alice Legacy, but I was wanting to release that story last. I could always venture to one of the 4 other story ideas I have.

I wonder - how does other writers decide what to write next when they get the itch to write?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Act of She

Wow, almost a week since my last post. Been nearly a week away from a computer. The ramp at work and bringing a new line to life has left me with little to no time. Coupling that has been my renewed interest in getting the excess weight off my body. Which leads me to my topic for today - cutting excess weight from the manuscript.

Recently I have learned that the iPhone can open emails with PDF attachments. So knowing this I sent myself and my wife the manuscript in PDF to our phones. Over a casual dinner we can pull up the manuscript and discuss what works and what doesn't. During one of these discussion I spotted an excessive amount of the word "she" in the draft.

Tenchnically there is nothing wrong with using the word, except when repeating it four times in one paragraph. So I have become determined to reduce the amount of 'she' words in the manuscript. I started yesterday with the first chapter. The delimma I was faced with was how to find them all. I could print out the chapter then attack it with a highlighter (which I have done in the past). The problem is that I alrady have a 8 inch stack of paper for this book (yeah - I've saved every print out related to the book). The answer came yesterday while teaching people how to use MS Word at work.

MS Word has a "find" function. Most people use it to locate unique words in a document. Word 2007 also has a "replace" function. "Replace" is great for changing an occurance of a word with another - like changing a name. While showing this function I noticed the "replace" function has a "more" option. It turns out that you can change the format (such as font color) of a specific word. So I went into chapter 1 and had all the "she" words replaced with red font. Bingo. I instantly saw all the "she" and was able to correct the repitition problem.

Next step is to use it to find "was", "had", "were", "saw", and every other crutch word I like to repeat when I get lazy. I think it'll also work to change the font on the letters 'ly' so I can fix those pesky words too. I love learning about new features that save me time.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Friday!!!

I have not been so happy to have a Friday come to an end in such a long time. Work has been crazy. 120 people trained in one week on a program that the company has never worked before. There is more to be done to get them up and running, but we have made major strides.

Nothing to do with the book really, other than I haven't even opened the thing all week. I've been considering what to do at this point and the more time I ponder the more I think that printing the book and reading it aloud will be the next best step to creating a polished piece. The only that has responded to reading the book in the current draft is my mother - believe it or not. Mom - the woman that hasn't read a book in nearly a decade - the same woman that never read any of my school papers growing up - the woman that thinks that newspaper is only good for house training dogs. She actually read it. Her response? "Well, I was bored a lot and there were words I didn't know." Go figure.

Anyway she did point out a few areas that I may be able to cut to quicken the pace and remove more words. At the moment I am below 95K words. I could loose another 5K without really affecting where it is now. It really feels like I am spending more time editing this book than it took to write it!

I've been thinking of the 'what next'. I'm really feeling compelled to write the beginning of the chronicles. I really wanted to release that story last, but my mind constantly drifts back to Alice Liddel's story and her relationship with Charles Lutwidge Dogdson. The real story is facinating and leaves so much open to interpetation. My whole concept fits really well into history. Sort of a historical fiction / fantasy / steampunk thought going. Hmmmm.....

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Yeah, I know that I haven't posted in a while. Not much toward the book has happened since my last post. The ciritque group is humming along, but I've taken a back seat there for a while. My biggest issue at the moment is exhaustion. Work has me running ragged so by the time I get home I just want to sleep. To add to this today and tomorrow will be late days due to orchestra. Our final concert of the 2009-2010 season is tomorrow. Yay!!!

So where am I with the book? Well, I have removed an additional chapter to get the reader into the meat of the story quicker. I've also moved the rave scene back to the beginning. Now I am back to fighting that freaking first sentence. Here is where it is at for the moment:

"Surrounded by the industrial celebration of candy colored teenagers, Emily sat feeling alone and abandonded with a healty dose of fear."

Well... At least that is where it stands now. I haven't gotten any feedback on the sentence from anyone yet. I've been waiting before sending out queries until feedback comes back. It's all quite from the 20 or so people I sent out the 4th draft to (with the old sentence). I may read over it this weekend - out loud.

Let's see....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Rollercoaster of Emotions

Only a short note tonight. Recently my emotions have been quite low. "Pit of despair" maybe - though not quite that low. Regardless, my motivation for doing anything except vegging (wonder if my UK readers have that word) out infront of the tube. The seasons are changing, the weather is warming up, and I feel lathargic. I have been trying to pull myelf out if it, but every time I look at myself in the mirror down I fall. So what's bothering me....

Well first is my weight. A few short years ago (right before I started writing RABBIT SLAYER) I was energetic, slim, and loved to exercise. The pitfalls over the few years has made keeping that body impossible. Now I've ballooned out and lost all my endurance (can you believe I used to run marathons and Half-Ironman triathlons?). Next is my financial situation. Though I have a job and I am working on paying off the debt incurred during the past few years, I still have little money left. Lastly, this whole adventure into writing a novel. I know I should be happy that I finished it (well I wrote the story) but I want it to be good enough to publish. And I am finding that the road to seeing it on the shelves is an uphill battle - in the wind - while storming - without shoes.

I will do this. I will pull myself out of my funk and I will see this book thing to the end. Even if it means that it'll never be good enough for publication. Point is - if I don't try I'll always wonder "what if".

Sorry for the downer post, but it helps to vent from time to time. So is the life of a writer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Critique Mishaps

As I think I stated before I decided to join a few online critique groups. But I'm finding it to be a challenge. I'm getting a crash course on the personalities of writers. Mine included. While some people take criticism well some take it really hard. I can't really blame them - we writers put so much of ourselves into the stories we can't help but to take comments a little personal.

Case in point is a recent posting for a writer in our group. The opening chapter was long and - in my opinion - was overwhelming the reader with tons of information on characters, society, and sociology. Granted the perspective is unique, but all in the first chapter is a bit heavy for a reader. I tried to explain this and a few other points in my critique. By the response I got back from the writer I felt as if she could she would have reached through her keyboard and smacked the hell out of me.

Critiques should be taken in a manner of being positive. Obviously some critique ARE personal attacks, but personally if I disagree with suggestions or critiques I file it away. If I get several that say the same thing than I'll look at it. If not then it is that person's opinion - they are entitled to it. Let's face it what we write isn't going to please EVERYONE. If we could, we'd be on the best sellers list week after week instead of struggling to get out our first book.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting Away

This weekend I was afforded the opportunity to get away for the weekend. After months and months of constant attention to working on the book I take some time away. Living in Texas allows for some beautiful weather and being in the north east we have some outstanding scenery. Weather is a key factor when driving the back roads of our country on a motorcycle.

The Dallas / Fort Worth area is known as a transistional area. The area to the east is wooded and filled with rivers, streams and lakes. The area to the west have open rolling hills and vasts plains. Our trip this past weekend took us east, through small towns and villages established nearly a century ago. With the mind of a writer I absorbed the richness of these town - taking in each nuance of the buildings, the landscape, and the people.

The trip allowed my brain to relax and in a way recharge with creativity. To break beyond the strict confines of editing. To allow my imagination to flurish with possibilties. I'm hoping at as I return to editing the RABBIT SLAYER I can work on the prose in imagitive ways - to remember that editing does not have to be stoic. It too can be a creative process - one line at a time.

The pinnacle of the weekend occuried when I arrived home and read the English project written by my daughter. The project was to use a multi-medium (she called it genere) work that depicts the life of a fictional character based on historical relatives. My daughter choose the life of her great-great grandmother. A woman that immigrated from Germany in the late 1800s with a toddler. Not a lot is known of her, but my daughter did a splendid job of using multiple writing techniques to depict an immigrants life in New Work at the turn of the century and beyond. It is an excellent piece of work - and I'm not just saying that because I'm her father. - Well maybe I am. Seriously, sometimes I am amazed at the mind of my child. If only I had the imagination she appears to possess.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Family Ties

Last night I began outlinning book two of THE ALICE CHRONICLES called FAMILY TIES. At first I just stated at a white screen and wondered what to do next. I then decided to follow what I did with book one and see what follows through. Here is what I did and plan on doing to begin the next installment.

First I wrote out the objectives. The things that I wanted to accomplish in this book. These will be the sub-plots that move along with the story. The problem I faced was looking for the catalyst. What is going to raise the stakes enough to warrant the book. For this I looked to my idea that I had planned for book three. It clicked. Everything fell into place in my mind and I know it'll work. Leaves me a little dry for the catalyst in book three, but its too early to worry about that one.

As I have mentioned in the past, my problem over the years was coming up with an end of a story. It was what allowed me to do RABBIT SLAYER. I knew the beginning, the middle, and the end before I started. So for FAMILY TIES I have done the same. I wrote out the beginning, the middle, and then the end (well sort of). It is like writing a query at this point - more of a note to myself of what will happen in each section.

Once I completed that I began writing a chapter by chapter outline. My outline is more like a guidline to the chapter. For example "Chapter 1: Emily wakes up in Alice's apartment with a splitting headache. Emily will attempt to leave, but is stopped by Alice..." and so on. Nothing really formal, again just notes for me to at least get a feel for what will happen in the book. No real details unless there are specific imagery I want to put there. Last night I got as far a chapter 4. That's kind of where things started to get complicated and will need more thought.

Now when I am done with my outline I do not for a second believe that the ending book will flow exactly the way I wrote in the outline. I am not so rigid that I don't allow the story to take over. I know that when I wrote RABBIT SLAYER the sotry flowed down paths I hadn't considered. That is the beauty of wiriting allowing the story to write itself. So I have to go back and modify the outline to allow for the new twists. The end result remains mostly the same.

So this is my method. An outliner that gravitates to organic when in the flow. What are the methods you use for starting a new book?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Is it a New Idea?

This past weekend I browsed the local book store while the wife shopped nearby. I really had no intention of buying anything, just wanted to look. I first checked out the fantasy and YA generes to see what new books were populating the selves - and to see if I recognized any. And it was some where along my search that a title jumped out and grabbed hold of my imagination.

Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter

OMG! What a title - what a concept. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Granted I have seen "Pride, Prejudice, and Zombie" - even bought the book for my daughter - but the interest was no where as great as when I saw the Lincoln book. I had to see what the author had done with his life story. Amazing. It appears that he had created a secret life of the president - all associated to vampires. It was so intriguing that I had to buy the book (and seeing how it was 30% off - a bargin too).

My wife and I talked about the concept on the way home. I told her that I wasn't certain what gravitated me to the book when I had passed over others. She felt that was probably due to the fact that I had done something similar. Really? How so? She explained that I too had taken a known classic, put a dark twist on it, and made it my own.

I'm still not certain that I did what Stephan did in his book. So I start to wonder, is this a new idea or one taken to the extereme? I know of "Wicked" a twist on "The Wizard of Oz", but are there any more?

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Dreaded First Page

I say the dreaded first page, but it really starts at the first word. The first sentence. The first paragraph. I'ts all tied together in a delicate balance that must be synchned perfectly or the whole thing comes crumbling down.

What am I talking about? Well the list of firsts in a novel. There are books on the subject so I'm not going to rant on what has alrady been discussed. Instead allow me to rant on my thoughts about the subject.

1st. Is the first word. How simple can that be? Surprisingly not simple at all it seems. I once, a long time ago, read that you don't want to start any work with the first word as "the". It went on to explain why, but suffice to say I have an adversion to starting work with the word. So what else are no-nos in my mind. Well - names are next on the list followed by quotes. Oh and let's not forget words that are three letters or less. Now its narrowed down and we find out first word.

Next we move on to the first sentence. The hook. That first word has to fit with the hook to make it work. The hook has got to jump off the page and grab the reader on the nose and drag them into the second sentence. Of course the hook would not be complete if the first paragraph doesn't complete the thought that the hook genereated.

That first paragraph will be setting the tone - introduce your voice, the POV, and your pace. Yikes! That's a tall order. And that is where I am having the biggest problem. But this isn't where it stops. Now we have to finish out that first page. The first page will continue to enforce the pace, introduce the opening scene, and most importantly tease the reader into turning to the next page. If we can't get the reader to move past that first page - we are sunk.

So here I sit - struggling with that first page. Making changes - sending it to my few trusted readers and stir in agony until they reply. Man does it kill me to wait. Is it good enough, will they hate it, will they even respond. There is 299 more pages beyond that one all riding on the first.

It's enough to drive a person mad!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What to Do Next

Been debating on where I should go next. I'm in a lull until I get responses from beta readers, so I feel like I should be doing something. Should I begin book II of the Alice Chronicles, or work on the companion to book I, or outline several other stories that have been rolling around in my head for the past two years? So many choices - I think that I'll head over to the gym and run a few miles to clear my head.

Yeah I'm strange that way...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Draft 3 - Done

Last night I finished up the revision on the final chapters. It feels like another step closer to getting this book published. I did manage to get the word count down below 100K and hopefully its enough for more serious offers. So what next??

Well I'm going to do some editing based on comments I've recieved from the writer critique groups I'm involved in then I'll compile it into a single pdf file. I'm actively looking for beta reader and hope to get the pdf out to them by the end of the week. While I'm waiting for comments from my beta readers I'll be reading the book myself - and out loud. Once it's polished up from the reviews I'll start sending out queries and pray.

Interested in being a beta reader? Let me know.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wondering and Watching

Several months ago when I queried my monsterous 180K novel I got a form rejection on my full manuscript less than 24 hours after sending it in. Being new to the game I wasn't about to accept a form rejection on a full. I mean, their okay for a query but for a full? I want more than that. So I snapped off a polite email asking what specifically didn't pass the muster. I got similarliy formal response about how the writing didn't "grab" him and that the business is "subjective". Yada yada yada. But then something caught my attention.

He said that there was a lot of "wondering" and "watching" going on.

Huh? I was kinda stuck by that. Well yeah, people watch and people wonder - what's the big deal?

Well as I approach the ending of my latest draft I'm fully aware of what was meant. Here is an example of what I just edited.

original: "Alice watched as Emily lifted the door and put in front of the fireplace."
As I look at this now I see that the "Alice watched" is redundant since the chapter is taken from her POV anyway. The line could do just as well without the "Alice watched as". Which is what I deleted. Wow - three more words off my count.

Throughout my manuscript I have noticed where I have done that. Adding a "wonder" or a "watch" - even the "looked" (or what ever other synonoms I managed to find) significantly added to my word count. More importantly it slowed down the pacing of the story like a literary speed bump. Pacing in stories are so important in today's literature. If the story is paced too slow the reader is going to put it down. No matter HOW interesting the topic is - or who the writer is. Honestly, I stopped reading Stephen King because his pacing has gotten sooo sloooow. It's a shame because I love his ideas.

When I am done with the draft, I'll have to go back and read for these "speed bumps" in my writing. I wonder does anyone else have examples of "speed bumps"?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Where do Ideas Come From?

I've read that people ask that question all the time. I've also seen book on the topic of generating ideas - or breaking through a mental block. From these tidbits I assume that the problem is out there, but I wonder "really?" Is it really hard to come up with ideas. I mean I get so many ideas for stories that I don't know what to write sometimes.

Take for example as story from the latest webNews. Richard Zimmerman, a cave dwelling loner in Idaho dies at 94. WOW! The obit goes on to explain that "Caveman Dick" has lived in his apartment complex of caves since 1947 - without t.v., a telephone, or electricity. The possiblity of stories from that man's life is so bountiful. Next story on the list announces lucrative summer jobs. Seriously. A job on a cruise ship! "Die Hard on the High Seas".

Ideas are all around us, we writers just need to know where to look and "how" to look with our imagination. We can even find ideas within our dreams (um... "Twilight"). I've had a few of them, though I have yet to make them into full stories.

The most common question I get now is "where did RABBIT SLAYER come from?" Sure you might THINK it was "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" but the truth is the idea came from a song. Many years ago I found an MP3 clip of a song that was a parody of Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits. I thought "how cool would it be to see something like that in story form?" Then while taking a shower I fused the song with Carroll's book to get a little story for my daughter. The little story has now morphed into the book and series that I call "The Alice Chronicles".

My point is: ideas are all around us. We just need to look with our imagination - asking ourselves "What could I do with it?" There we go an idea is formed. Try this little exercise - go out into our local city square, some place populated and watch what goes on around you. What catches your eye - then let your imagination take over and create a snippet of a story showing that scene.

That is just one exercise I use to keep up the creativity. There are tons more. What exercises do you use to help generate ideas?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Active & Passive writing

As I've been editing/revising I've begun to take notice of the "voice" of my sentence structure. The voice I'm referring to isn't the writing style that voice is usually associated with. I'm referring more toward the tone of the voice. I know that there is a better way to explain it - I'm just too ignorant to know it. So I am going to use an example from a line I currently revised.

"The view of the gathering was revealed to Alice when the executioner fell forward."
This was my original line. I once read that when revising you need to identify "active" or "passive" in your writing. An active voice has Cause then Effect while a passive shows the Effect follow by the cause. In fiction writing the writers wants to build tension and the active voice helps build that down to the sentence level. My example above shows the effect "gathering was reveled" before the cause "the executioner fell forward". This is a passive voice. So I switched the cause and effect - here is my revised sentence.

"The executioner fell forward revealing to Alice the view of the gathering below."
With this revised sentence even though the story is told in a past tense the reader gets the feeling of the action happening - thus the active voice. Now that I've written it this way the second sentence will need to be revised - and the rest of that paragraph. Regardless of the amount of revisions if I keep the tension of the writing up the reader will be compelled to continue with the story.

I'm not an English major (or been very attentive in High School English) so I might not be using the correct words for the "active" and "passive" writing. Feel free to correct me. The fact remains that we need to keep a look out for lapses into "passive" voice (not to mention the use of our "crutch words"). We writers want to hold our reader's attention so that they can't put the book down. If we can do that, they'll want to pick up another of our stories. Which means a demand for future books. See - the salesman is taking over.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An April Update

Just a quick note to record my progress on the revision/edit of draft 3. I'm currently working on chapter 22. I have cut out a large portion in the center that has no bearing on the revised "trimmer" story line. It's relevant to the overall story happening in Wonderland, but we're saving that for the next book aren't we?

I've edited the first section of the chapter and I have also jumped to the last section and switched the POV from Beth to Emily. The last section was mostly dialogue so the revision was a snap. I think next I'll work on the King's death scene. Originally I wrote it from the POV of the Queen of Hearts. With the new story line it's not going to work. I'm debating on just how much of the scene Emily is going to see. I can only put in what Emily sees because Alice is occupied with killing guards.

Well that is where I am at. Anyone want to share their current status in "Revision Hell"?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Artist and The Salesman

I've been struggling over my last few chapters for the editing/revisions. Many "writers" have said that they write to tell the story they want to tell and I've also read where agents/publishers purchase books that can sell. I can see both points of views "the artist" and "the salesman". So I am caught between the two - which is right and which is wrong.

The artist's philosophy states that you write the best that you can and tell the story that you want to tell. You then hunt down an agent that likes the story. If no agent buys into the story you "trunk" it. The point is that the story is the tale the writer wants the reader to see. Much in the same fashion that a painter creates a portrait and presents it to buyers. If no one buys it then it's their loss. But what he doesn't do is go back and try to fix the painting.

The salesman on the other hand states that the writer needs to write what he can sell. The agent (our salesman) is in the business to make money. He looks at quieries and manuscripts much the same way a car deal will inspect a potential trade-in. If he (or she) won't make money on the car it's passed over. The salesman knows his/her market and knows what will sell.

So the question is does a writer write as an artist or as the salesman. I do believe that we as writers are considered artist in a way. The construction of our prose is our brush strokes, words - the paint left on the canvas. But we have one advantage over the painter - we can correct and change the way the paint sit upon the canvas. It is part of our craft. I'm beginning to realize that we write to tell our story, but we must keep the salesman in mind when write. Writing just to write is indeed a passion but a hobby. Writing with the intention to publish is a bit more involved. Other variables must be considered when writing a story that you intend to publish.

I've been thinking this over during the weekend. I am at the climatic chapters of RABBIT SLAYER and had to face a decision. Do I write (edit rather) the story I originally wanted to tell or do I compromise my original story in order to create a sellable manuscript? It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of advice from others to make my decision. The story was orginally written for my daughter and I think I have achieved what I had originally set out to do. She has her story (even if she doesn't want read it). That goal has been acheived my goal now is to publish. In order to achieve that goal I'm going to have to modify the story (and those climatic chapters) so that I have a product that is marketable.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Consistancy and Sacrafice

I think the key to writing - nah - writing well - is to write consistantly. I've been neglecting that consistancy as of late - thus the sparseness of my blog entries. Work has dragged my attention to the point that I don't even want to turn on the computer when I get home. But all is not lost.

One of the side effects of my new focus at work is that I have seen an increase in energy levels. I may not want to be on the computer when I get home, but I don't want to sit still either. Prior to starting RABBIT SLAYER I was an advid triathlete. With the changes in my life on and around the decision to write my interest in triathlete training waned, which resulted in crashing my energy levels and an explosion in weight around my middle.

So with my new found energy I have begun to get back into training. As a result the revisions have slowed. I must learn to balance the interests and still remain consistant on my writing. I know the balancing act is percarious and is a trick that must be planned out. I can do it - I know I can. I am certain that people all over the world have learned to create this balance - or have they?

Most likely, if you are reading this you are a writer. At least I beleive all my followers (all 12 of you) are writers. If so, I have a question for you. How have you learned to balance your life repsonsibilties with your passion of writing OR have you let things suffer to give you more time to write?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rant of the Day

I am so glad that work is over today. I feel like I've been put through the wringer and then hung to dry. Frustration level is high and I've got more stress tonight for the dress rehearsal for the orchestra. Seriously, how much stress can one person take in a day. And now as I am sitting here writing at Borders someone has to park in a spot in such a way that the sun light is beaming directly into my eyes. - Yeah Isabella I know that you would like to have more sunlight in the UK, but that is why I am in TX; for the sun. NOT

Okay, so today is a rant session for the blog. My ranting really has nothing to do with writing but it does help relieve my stress so I can focus on the tedious job of editing. The rant for the day is work ethics. This week I had to release three people from employement because of unprofessional work ethics. Is it really too much to ask for a new employee to come to work, pay attention to the intructor, and do the word assigned? Work is not a social club - it is not there for the pleasure of the employee. And when they make a mistake OWN up to it. Take responsibility for you actions. One of the things that will aggrevate me the most is the "it's not my fault" excuse.

Then to continue on the rant. If you don't pay people much AND you only give them a quarter of the needed training AND there is no previous experience DON'T expect full production! Come on people give me something here. You can't have cheap labor, massive production, happy employees, and good quality work. It doesn't work that way. Pay people, give them the tools they need, and provide positive re-enforcement for a job well done.

Okay. Now that I've bored you all with my ranting I'll go and do some editing. Only 7 more chapters to complete. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to change POV in several of those chapters. Crap.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crutch words

In order to keep the editing momentum going I'll keep tonight's blog short. My discussion for this entry is the use of 'crutch' words. I'm not sure if there is specfic term for the phrase so 'crutch' will have to do. So what is 'crutch' words. Well, they are the words that comes naturally while writing to simplfy the process.

These words are not entirely incorrect in their usage, but they seem weak.

The sentence above is an example of using crutch words. The underlined words are crutch words. The above sentence implies the use of the words create weak sentences. While editing I have been attempting to keep track of my crutch words. I first noticed their use when working on the second revision of RABBIT SLAYER. In fact I have begun to create a list of these words so that I can keep an eye out for them during my current revision/edit. I think that to create a more polished piece with stronger writing we writers should be aware of our crutch words and strive to minimize their usage.

Here is a list of some of the words I rely on too much. 'but', 'seem', 'just', 'probably', 'no doubt', 'had', 'as', 'she', 'he', and 'still'.

These are but a few words I watch, though there are tons more. I'm curious - does anyone else have 'crutch' words?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

More thoughts on my nemsis - Editing

Finally!!! My thrill of finishing the revised Chapter 20 is short lived though. I have opened up my mail and recieved comments from my friendly critique from across the pond. Not that the critiques were spot on (and surprisingly light), but they did point out a particular perspective of editing that I have neglected to include in my editing/revising process.

It had dawned on my while reading her comments. She pointed out that a few of my paragraphs were disjointed (my words not hers). As I mulled over her comments I realized that my lapse in flowing prose throughout the chapters were a result of my lack following through with what I know I need to do. Specifically I am referring to reading ALOUD my work - completely.

As we edit (okay maybe it's just me) we do so with the time we have. An hour here, 30 minutes there. No matter how much time I manage to grab it is never enough to finish a chapter. In fact I think Chapter 20 has taken me nearly two weeks to complete the revision. Meaning that it is bound to be choppy in place. I know that the fix is to read through the whole chapter in one sitting. Aloud and with a pencil in hand. But for some reason I have an adversion to reading aloud. Why this is I have no idea. I just do.

I have done this exercise in the past. I have read sections to my wife and the mistakes or the rough spots stuck out like a red suit at a funeral. I know it'll work, but I have to find the right time - and when no one is around (except for maybe my wife - if she can stand it).

So let that be a lesson to all my writer friends - after editing read what you wrote. Read it aloud and from a paper copy so that you can make quick marks as you move through the prose. Don't try to fix the problem then - just mark the spots that you have to come back to.

Now for those that do practice this method - what other tips can you provide as I near the point that I'll have to do it myself?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Miss the Mad Hatter

In my last revision I had worked hard on devleoping a complex character - the Mad Hatter. In the new revision he is not seen until Chapter 20, and then it's not even from his POV. It's so hard to develop a character from the opposite POV. How can I let the reader into his head, provide the reader with his motivation, how do I explain that some of his outbursts are caused by the little imp? As I lay in bed last night trying to get to sleep my mind drifted over my conundrum. Combined with the emotional bog I was in I thought of the possibility of creating a parallel story taken entirely from the Hatter's perspective.

It could be done. In fact I still have all the chapters that I cut from this draft. The idea is intriguing and I want to jump on the story. Just another of the multitude that have been flying through my head. Not wanting to forget any of my ideas, I open up new files and jot down the basic ideas. As new ideas for the story come to mind I jot them down in the file. But I have been trying to stay focused on polishing RABBIT SLAYER. My hopes is that once I get a fairly decent novel finished I won't be spending nearly as much time with the other books.

But editing and writing are two entirely different mindsets. The more I edit the more I understand this. Writing this blog has helped curb my desire to be creative. However, if I don't get this finished soon I think I'll go out of my mind!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Writers Emotional Rollercoaster

I've come to learn that writing is an emotional rollercoaster. There are points when you finish polishing a passage of your story and you congratulate yourself on your superior use of craftmanship. Then there are days when you feel like your whole manuscript is shit and its time to pack it into the bottom of a trash bin.

Tonight I'm in the latter of the two moods. I know that the emotions are to be expected and that it is all part of the process - at least that's what I tell myself. But then the doubt creeps into my psyche and I wonder if I'm good enough - or even passable. I've had some people read my work and reply that it is good, but then others just don't seem to get it. Granted that a story will not appeal to everyone, but still...

It's all quite frustrating and I try to refrain from being defensive; thus the use of this blog to vent. I hope I'm not the only one to get into these frames of mind. One of my characters - the Mad Hatter - has an alternate ego that is personified in his mind. He refers to the personality as his "little imp" - a voice in his head that is much different than his primary. (Too bad I cut those sections out of my book.) Tonight I feel as if my "little imp" has taken control.

Monday, March 29, 2010

End in Sight

Early in 2006 I completed my first marathon. It took me a little over 4 hours to do it, but when I was done I couldn't walk well for at least three days. I've since learned lessons on how to keep from damaging my feet, unfortanetly it has done little good to prevent the pain incurred during the past two weeks. A supervisor at my company had been released from employment so I stepped in temporarily to assist the abandoned employees. Though the effort has provide with vast amounts of rewards the price I've paid is the extreme pain in my feet. Walking around the production floor for 11 or 12 hours a day for two weeks has taken its toll. Not only has me feet suffered, so has my editing of RABBIT SLAYER.

But there is an end in sight. Tonight I'll get an hour or two to work on Chapter 20 then tomorrow the new supervisor will be taking over the production line, which will allow me to resume a normal work schedule. Meaning that I'll have more time to edit.

I have come to the conclusion that the little arm chairs in Barnes & Noble are not sufficiently big enough for a man and his laptop. If I prop my elbows up on the arms my shoulders press into my ears. If I squeeze them down to the sides I feel like I'm crushing my rib cage. Neither is particularly comfortable.

And I really do enjoy helping people. The is a gentleman here at B&N pulling up a book on triathlons, so of course I had to talk to him. He's wanting to do a Sprint Tri coming soon. I've given him the name of a few books that are much better than the one that he is currently looking at. I really do miss doing the triathlons. Now that it's starting to warm up I need to get back into it. I'm wanting to get back into it and loose the extra weight I've put on in the last two years (since I started writing RABBIT SLAYER).

Oh joy - a table opened up with a close by power outet. Time to start editing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Back to it

The weekend is over and I have a clearer head. The sun is shinning and the warmth is returning once again. It is weird to think that yesterday morning there was several inches of snow on the ground with the white stuff still coming down. I can feel the first searing rays of the sun that signals the start of Texas spring - which last less than a month. Within a few weeks we'll be seeing the boiling temps once more.

I've got a few hours to kill before going to rehearsal so I've parked my butt at a local Barnes & Noble in preparation to embark on the agonzing journey of editing Chapter 20. I know that I have only eight chapter more to edit before completing this revision of the book, but these next few chapters represent a daunting challenge of several POV switches. It is the part which I have been dreading for weeks now and I think it shows in my procrastination.

I know that the only way that I'll be able to get through these rough parts is to push forward, but at least my psyche is in the proper place to perform the polishing of the prose. - Yes the use of "p-words" is purposeful.

The chapter is open now and calling my name. The first paragraph needs attention. I am uncertain if I have been able to accomplish the desired affect. Which just drew myself to another literary quandry - the use of the word 'but'. I have found that I have been relying much on the use of the word to tie two sentences together. For example in the above sentence "I am uncertain if I have been...". I had orginally wrote that line to say "I know the effect I wanted to achieve, but I am uncertain if my goal has been accomplished." The newer sentence is about four words shorter and I have eliminated the 'but' word. With less words I have managed to convey the same message. I only wonder if the voice is carried across. I'll have to look into that more as I write and edit.

Yes I am trying to delay getting to my editing. Does it show that much? Okay - I'm going.

Really this time I mean it...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taking a Break

Every so often writer's must take a break from editing, writing, and reading. I think that I am in one of those moods. For the past few days I haven't looked at the book at all. This isn't the first time. Over the past few years that I have been working on RABBIT SLAYER I have found myself in what I call a "writing rut". I'm just not in the mood to pull up the book or to do work on it.

It's not a bad thing I think. Forcing myself to work on the book in these moods will only create bad writing. I need to have a polished book at this point, not half-assed work. Polished work is going to sell my book. So I can't force myself into editing mode.

So I have been reading up on writing, visiting QueryTracker, and looking into online critique groups. Not sure how critique groups work, but the itdea is intriguing. I have been working with a person from England that has been very helpful. I think with some others the both of our writings can improve.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Critique Groups

Tonight I need to vent. For several weeks now I have been a part of some online critique groups (would have some personal ones if I could ever find any), and have come to a conclussion. They are good - up to a point. A writer must know when enough is enough and that we will not please everyone - especially ourselves. It's so easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that our work isn't good enough. I am no different. I don't know how many times I have wanted to give up thinking that I suck at this writing stuff. But I pushed onward and I am still pushing.

I am not saying that all critiques suck, but they all aren't good either. I have decided to look at critiques as critically as I would when I edit my or other's work.

My first point would be the credability of the person doing the critique. I will look at the critique from an agent or an English major differently than a sixteen year-old highschool student with several unfinished works. I'm not saying that the 16's advice isn't good (considering I'm writing a YA book), but I'll be more selective.

Secondly, I'm going to look at the critique itself. I've noticed that lots of people will question things that really don't have a reason to be questioned. I've been getting the impression that some will critique just to say they are critiquing - but not really knowing what the hell they are asking.

Next I'll want to look at the suggestions themselves. People who say "I don't like this" but don't explain why or provide an alternative may not be worth taking too seriously.

I've also noticed that people have strengths. Some exist in grammar, others in puncuations, while others work well with structure. I think that I'll look at those areas first.

Lastly, what does everyone else say? If someone gets lots off comments on one area, but one reply is out in left field - then perhaps I should not be really looking at what that person has to say.

Well, I'll get off my soap box now and get back to my editing. Thanks for tuning in.

And if you have some across critiques that really piss you off - let me know. I hope I'm not the only one that feels this way.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Back to the Editing

I've survived the week from orchestra hell. My arms feel like mush and I'm exhausted, but it's done. I have a short (only two hours) rehearsal tonight and then tomorrow I get an afternoon to rest. I still have a couple of hours to work on editing, so I find myself at the nearby Barnes and Noble on the laptop getting ready to edit. I've found that the blogging has helped my in getting my brain switched from the madness of work to the madness of editing and trimming my manuscript.

Okay, I'm curious.

Where is the strangest place you've found yourself working on your writing? Better yet - what helps you get into the right "mindset" for writing?

Sorry for the short post, but I have a short time to write tonight...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A break in the madness

Sunday morning and I have about an hour to myself. It has been quite a hectic week for me. Why does it always seem like life wants to intefere with my writing (or rather, editing). Oh the woes of the writer. So what else has been going on with me? Well let's see.

I finished the book "I Am Ozzy". I had to read this book because it's Ozzy. Granted that he utilizes a ghost writer, but it really has the "Ozzy" feel to the prose. I can easily picture Ozzy sitting in front of a mike talking about his life, Sharon translating what he said, and Chris transposing it to word. The book has got to be one of the funniest things I have ever read. It's great to see all the 'rumors' put to rest with Ozzy's own account of what has happened - no holes barred. If you don't get offended easily, its a must read.

I have also been reading "The First Five Pages", by Noah Lukeman. An excellent book on how an agent sorts through the massive amounts of manuscripts they see each week - and how to get passed the cuts. There are a lot of good suggestions in the book - even if the writing is a bit dry.

Oh and I did go see Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" movie yesterday with my daughter. I love being able to have an intelligent conversation with my 16 year-old on the merits of a movie. She felt that the story line was weak and relied too heavily on the special effects. However, she did like the reference to the books that was played on throughout the movie. I'd have to agree with her for the most part. I'm still not happy with the over use of the "nonsense" talk as Carroll used in the book. I'm also amazed that they can make an entire movie based on the short nonsense poem that Carroll put in "Through the looking glass". Burton's imagery is outstanding - as in most of his movies - and the plot is fairly straight forward.

So here I talk about life getting in the way of my writing, but I have time to read and see a movie. Sounds fishy right? Wrong. All my work is on a computer, which means I got to get to my laptop, power it up, and connect to the internet (to access my files). Something that takes time, space, and an ISP. Unfortantely I don't always have that luxury, but it's fairly simple to bring a book and get in a few pages while idle.

But today will be the last of the packed days for a while, so I can get back to editing RABBIT SLAYER. I have gotten up to Chapter 16 - and its open right now, staring at me, calling my name. This was an added chapter so I am still debating on its inclusion to the final MS. It does develop the connection between Emily and Dinah and it serves to get Emily to Wonderland. A critical point. So I guess I keep it, but slim it down.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Mad Hatter

Wow, look at that I now have six gracious followers to my blog. I wonder if I now need to come up with some clever words to entertain and keep them. Nah. I'll continue writing as I have since I started this a few months ago. But the question today is what to write?

I'm still creeping along with the editing down of my manuscript. The first 56K words was a cinch really. Cut this chapter or that one and before I know it there goes the prose. It really is a shame though to see them filed away in the "trash" folder. There is quite a lot that the reader is going to be missing out by my deleting those scenes. I am seriously consider creating a companion story that will run parallel to Rabbit Slayer. It might actually be more interesting to see the story behind the "anti-hero" of the Rabbit Slayer - the Mad Hatter. In my thought he really isn't all "bad" he's just a bit touched, but his heart is kinda in the right place - right next to his two livers and the singe kidney.

You know it wasn't right what the other suits had done to his family. It was quite a shame and to go through life knowing that you are the sole remaining survior of your blood line has got to be difficult, so its no wonder that he gets a bit obsessed at times. Seriously, there is all sorts of germs climbing around people, and some are placed there quite not be accident. He still remembers the horrid green look on his Da's face as the poision ate away at his innards. Quite gruesome, even for the Hatter. And to top it all off he had to learn a trade, like any commoner. A hatter no less. Could he be blamed for being mad with the tannum and dyes seeping into his brain as a youth?

Then there is the imp that had taken residence in his head sometime after he begun his apprenticeship. At first it was only a small voice that spoke to him in times of great emotion. By the time he had advanced to a master hatter the imp had a full personality unto itself. If it hadn't been for the imp Time would still be in control. But the imp was selfish and had taken over the hatter imprisioning Time. The Hatter has tried countless times to find out where the imp imprisoned, but he won't say.

So in all the Hatter, though mad - isn't such a bad guy after all. He just wants returned to him what is rightfully his. And so what if a few commoners are killed along the way. In the end it really doesn't matter only family matters.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Editing Woes

Well, I was hoping to get through much of my editing over the weekend, but life had other opportunities for me. Saturday morning I kissed the wife good-bye (she's an accountant and had to go to work), turned on the radio, and sat down at the laptop for a full day of editing. I had gotten chapter 13 opened when the DJ on the radio reminded me of Ozzy Osbourne doing his book signing less than 15 miles away. I hadn't planned on going, but the sun was shinning and the dog was lounging on the back pourch - a sure sign of a nice day - so I decided it'd be a nice ride on the motorcycle. And if the line was too long I'd just turn around and head back home - no loss.

I got to the store and there were people, but not too much (or so I thought). At 12:30pm I purchase two books for Ozzy to sign. 3:30pm Ozzy finally arrives. 6:30pm they finally call my group to line up. 7:30pm I find myself standing in front of Ozzy. And then I am pushed away before I can think of anything clever to say. He signed both books and sent me on my way. Needless to say I got no editing done on Saturday.

Sunday, I promised to take the wife to Phantom of the Opera. At $50 a ticket (already purchased) I wasn't going to stay at home. No worries, I can edit when I get home - right? WRONG? A friend of mine calls up with some personal issues and I happily help him. He leaves aroung 9:30pm. So no editing on Sunday either.

Actually I did do a little. Sometime during church I managed to figure out what was wrong with my first paragraph of chapter 1. Out comes the iPhone and I write the new paragraph, much to the dismay of the wife.

Today, I managed to get through 13 and I got back Chapter 1 from a new friend across the pond who graciously looked it over for me. It amazes me how many times I can look over the same sentence and still not see what is actually written! My mind knows what I want to say, so my brain inserts or deletes the words that are missing. Yeah, I know I got to read it outloud. I promise I will, but I'd really like to get through the 3rd rewrite before going back to do the reading out loud editing.

And here I thought that writing the book was the hard part - and I have 8 of these things planned? I must me as mad as the Mad Hatter in my book.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A note on editing

I've come up with a new slogan:

If writing is a passion then editing is an obsession and its only through our obsessions can we achieve great writing.

I say that because of my 80K word cut has become and obsession with me. I made the first nearly sixty thousand word cut fairly simply by cutting the Wonderland scenes. I hated to do it, but it was necessary to get the word count down. Besides the story is reall about Emily and Alice. The sub plot happening in Wonderland, though intriguing was NOT what the story is about. I'm not trashing the cuts, but putting them aside for a future time.

So that leaves me with another twenty that I have to hack and slash. I know that in latter chapter I'll have to do complete re-writes to change the POV to either Emily or Alice. Which means I have to redo the critical scene with the Queen of Hearts.

I have also decided to chop my first two chapters. The feedback I was getting from critques was that the reader did not get to "know" Emily or got the wrong impression of her. The first five pages - the most critical - sort of dragged to most people. I therefore, have decided to start the book on Chapter 3 (Alice). The new start puts the reader right into the Emily character as she wakes with a massive headache. The first five pages then expands from there to introduce Alice. So now I have the two main characters introduced in the first 1500 words. And I think it will hook the reader into wanting to read on to find out what is going on.

The whole rave scene is not completely cut though. In the second chapter Emily must tell Alice what happened at the rave, so I decided to combine the first two chapters (cutting most of the first and the beginning of the second). I just need to make sure that the reader knows for sure that it is a flash back scene. I also needt to keep the word count down. That is the hardest part.

But on a more positive note I have what I think is a complete first chapter. It has been polished and "wife approved". I'm still concerned with the first paragraph, but I'll see what others think of it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Emotional Roller Coaster

Earlier this week I was at an all time high! My book was completed and life was good. Today I am in a pit of dispair. Welll, not that bad really. Deciding to cut 40% or more of something you worked so hard on is devistating, but it is the craft. I must remember to keep telling myself that.

So this past week I had started quering agents. At the same time I was learning something new. Most firt time authors only present manuscripts that are 100,000 words or less. Which is industry talk for just over 300 pages. Ouch is to say the least. My book is 180,000 words which equates to about 560 pages. So I'm thinking "Harry Potter" or "Twilight" right? Well, yeah - if I want to wait 6 years to find the right agent or spend countless number of dollars to go to conference and try to shove it down a publisher's throat. (And I am not saying that is what happened in the other cases.)

No, my goal was to get it published traditionally. Agent, publisher, the whole bit. To do so I need to conform to the guidlines most agents use. I have a much better chance getting it published if I do it that way. So here is my plan.

I keep out the queries that I have - who knows an agent might want to try representing a monster. In the mean time I'm going to rewrite the whole book - not like I did before, but narrow the focus to Emily. It is her story that I wanted to tell. The rest of the story are additional scenes for the entertainment of the reader and of the writer. But still 40% cuts a lot out of a story - as story unto itself, right? That's what I'm thinking. With the material I do cut I can use it to create an anthology or try to sell the "chapters" as short stories to magazines or online publications. I am thinking that I can do this to start a fan base even before the book is released. If not, I use them as a quick second book to the Chronicles. After all that I why I wanted to create a series - I can tell a story from any character's POV.

So off I go to write the next 100K words for the first novel I ever wrote - It's almost funny typing it.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I am so bored at the moment. After spending two years working on the book I am at a loss to know what to do with my time. The book has been my security blanket for two years. A comforting environment I can escape to and pass the time. It has been fun to create the world of my imagination in words and prose. I have learned so much about writing and the artistry of writing. Now, sitting here and staring at the completed manuscript of the first book is surreal to me. I had never expected to get to this point. Even more to the point I had not expected to get a bite on the work as early as I have.

That's right. I got my first bite. I try like hell not to get too excited when I think about it. It's like a fisherman yanking on the rod before the fish has the bait. Pull to soon and the fish swishes away leaving the fisherman dispondent (see all the new words I have learned). I don't want to be like the fisherman to talk about the one that got away. If I don't read too much into the bite - I won't get too excited.

So here is what has happened. Last week I looked at some of the features that the WeBook website has to offer. One such feature is what they call AgentInABox. The idea is that you create a sample Query letter, fill out bio, synopsis, and work submissions. You then select agents you wish to submit your work to. Well, for the hell of it, I submitted Rabbit Slayer to 10 agents. The very next day I recieved an email from one of the agents. The agent said that though my genere was not her speciality she 'urged' me to submit my manuscript to a fellow agent. Okay - here is why I get excited.

First it was not a 'no' as I had also gotten that day from another agent. Secondly, agents do not request full manuscripts if they aren't going to read it - or if the sysnopsis is not intriguing. The website shows who has opened the mail and what areas of the submission that they have read. The site is showing that the agent has looked at the query and my sample (first chapter). So I got toes and fingers crossed hoping that it is because they want to really look more into me and my story.

Keep praying for me...

Monday, February 1, 2010


More days have passed, but I have not been idle. In my quest to find other writers to converse with I have found an online community of writers. How cool is that? I have had a few people read the first two or three chapters, but it is VERY slow going. The comments I get in the first few chapters that talk about writing style and voice will transpire through the whole story, so they are valuable. I have also compiled the whole book into one file and forwarded that file to about 25 people or so. As of yet I have gotten NO feedback from them. I have some of my daughters friends reading it, but I get nothing back. So I continue with my own self editing. So here is what I have learned thus far.

First, reading your work outloud, though embarassing is exteremly helpful in finding flaws with your sentence structure and flow. If you stumble on the sentence, then it won't flow in the readers mind. Fix it. Of course it would help if you have an audience to listen to, but I don't think that my dogs really care one way or another. It'd be nice to read it to a live person. I would record it, but I can't stand to listen to my voice - that's why I write.

Next, critique other people's work. Now this one has caught me by surprise. On the online community feedback is given for feedback received. Guess it's as good a monetary system as any. But the benefit is that you start to see errors in the other writings that you may have not noticed in yours. For example I have been told I have a tendency to repeat myself when I write. I didn't really see what that meant until I seen it in another piece. Now I know what to look for. After you critique some on other people you start to get into a mode that'll help you critique your work in the same fashion. Just be nice to others, so that you will be nice to yourself.

Next thing learned is that the book shrinks in editing. It's amazing as you read something you see that this part or that part you can do without. It really hurts to press that delete button, but the text reads so much better after you do it. I am on about Chapter 15 with my editing and have thus far removed nearly 2K words.

I've learned something else, but I'm not sure if it is a lesson exactly. In editing the first chapter I found that entire paragraphs can be moved around and reordered with minimal rewording. This was was amazing for me to see when I did this. The section included description as well as dialogue. I managed to rearrange the order and it still read well. In fact it now reads smoother than the way I originally had it. I still hate the fact that  I had to delete 1K words from that first chapter, but its done. I think it works better.

Lastly, accept criticism honorably. Don't get defensive, but at the same time don't bash another's writing because you didn't like their feedback. That is childish and not going to help you in the long run. Take a serious look at the feedback, another set of eyes may point out things in your work that you haven't seen before. Several points have been brought to my attention in those first three chapters that I had never thought about. It's good to have those new - trained - eyes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Myths about writing

This past weekend I spent much time working on the book. That's right, I'm still working on it. Why? Well unlike what has been shown in the media, writing the book is only one part of working on the book. And that gets me into the subject of my post today - myths on writing.

First a book - a full novel - CANNOT be written in one sitting. I am sure that besides myself there are thousands of writers out there that wish it can be done in one sitting. I was watching a story on J.K. Rowling and in it they had said that it took her six years to write the first Harry Potter book. SIX YEARS!!! And I thought that two years was a long time for my first book. I've seen the myth portrayed in movies several times. You watch the whole movie and in the end the main character sits down and over night has a three hundred page manuscript of the story. That my dear friends is bullshit.

Here is another myth that I caught on that piece on J.K. Rowling. In it they said that she locked herself in a hotel room for an extended period (not sure if they actually said how long). But at the end they show her finishing off the last of the last chapters of the last book. Sorry to say people, you just don't "finish". There is no "THE END" and your done with the book.

Nope. That is just the beginning. My first draft of my book took me 15 months to write. I finished the last line of the last page and thought "I'm done". Man was I happy - until a week later when I read what I wrote. OMG! It sucked! The idea was there, but it was far from being a story. Even at 303 pages I knew it needed a lot of work. The result is a nearly complete rewrite of the entire book. That took until last week. Nine months after I started the rewrite. I compiled the book into a pdf for people to read - its now 505 pages. Okay, so the size is irrelevant. I am not disillusioning myself this time. I know that I need to edit, but as I read through the book this time, I think that it now looks like it should have the first time.

But the point still remains - there is no "I'm done" to writing. There is always the next step. Even Rowling wasn't done there. She had to sit down with an editor and go through the book again. Which leads me to the next myth. Or at least what I think is a myth - one I hope to prove with my book. An author does not sit in a conference room in a chair next to an editor and go through the book page by page making corrections. OMG! that would be painful. And her books aren't small. I am sure it took several days or weeks to edit through the book. Then I am sure that there are the bickering back and forth between editor and author about sentence structure or some technical crap like that. Oh how I long to get to that point....

My point is that writing a book, at least in my experience, is not what you see on television or in a movie. Writing a story - a full length novel - requires a massive amount of work and a long term commitment. Is it worth the time and effort?

I hope so.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So the editing begins

It has been several days since I have done any blogging. Most of the time because I was writing. The roll was on so I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. The two chapter climax turned out to be three. Could it have been done in two - perhaps, but I like the way that I worked the chapters out.

The first of the climactic chapter provided the action. Essentially the best laid plans blowing up infront of the characters faces. Nothing worked the way ANY of them wanted. The second of the three focused on the main character's pivtol break down. A character can not have a massive change unless something cataclysmic happens. That was the second of the three. The third chapter is the rebirth of the main character. The epiphany. The realization that there is something more out to the character's destiny than they would have ever dreamed.

Hey it worked pretty well. I am happy with the climax. I am even more pleased that I have acheived all the objectives that a good climax should have. I may have done more exposition than I should have, but I'll let the readers tell me that. Which brings me to the next step.

I had decided early on in the rewrite to use the final two chapters from the original draft. However, I need to read over the chapters to make sure that I didn't miss anything because of the changes that I had made from the original draft. I already I need to make mention of one thing in the last chapter, but a one line comment would suffice for that.  While I am reading the last two chapters I'll go ahead and edit them as well.

While editing I need to focus on working on the sentence structure, spelling, tenses, and basic grammar. I don't want to wind up rewriting entire sections - like I just got finished doing. No. The objective is just to only do enough to make the story flow easier and convey the story - without essential errors.

While I am doing this I will be compiling the entire book into a single pdf file. I will then email the file to my "readers". The readers are people that have volunteered to read the book and provide me suggestions and comments on the story. I will have a few editors helping me correct my spelling and grammar, but that is not the objective of the reader. I want the reader to go through the story - from cover to cover - as a real reader would and tell me where I need to make improvements.

Interested in being a reader?

Send me an email...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Starbucks ramblings

This evening I am filled with excitement. The final two chapters of the 2nd draft are in progress. I've taken the time to write out bulleted items outlining the actions to occur in chronological order. Now I only need to go back and fill out the passages that correspond to the bullets. But it is much harder said than done.

The passage for my first item took nearly a page to write. I need to remember to focus on keeping exposition out of the passage - or at least limit it as much as possible. I don't really need it, with the amount of action that is happening in these chapters I can use dialog to convey more of the information. It is still difficult not to considering that I have been doing it for the past 165K words.

Today Starbucks introduced the full leaf teas. The 'Awake' tea is stronger in the full leaf style. I'm wondering if I could get the venti tea with a single tea bad and be charged only for the grande size. Damn Starbucks is trying to nickel and dime us to death.

I do really enjoy sitting at Starbucks though. It give me an opportunity to people watch. Today's Starbucks is the one in North Richland Hills on Pipeline. The weather is a bit warmer today so there are more people sitting outside than there has been in recent days. At the moment my largest oddity is the group that is sitting on the west side of the building. A thin black man with glasses and a goatee is strumming on a guitar. I say strumming because he will play a few chords then stop. There are two other people sitting at the table with him, but they are blocked from my field of view by a shelf of coffee. I know that the two are young white women, but can't tell anything more significant.

The man with the wolf-like dog just walked by. I have been coming to this Starbucks for a couple of years now - ever since I started playing at the orchestra. Every time I am here the man walks by with the dog. In the summer time he will stop in the store and get a cup of water, most of which he give to his dog. I say that the dog is wolf like, but it more than likely is a Siberian Husky - as skinny one. I wouldn't really know how to tell the difference between the two - especially at a distance. I may want to look into that somethime.

The group with the guitar grew by one memeber, another black man with a reggae do. I take that back it is two young black kids selling candy bars. Interesting - I didn't know that the store would allow it. That might be because the employees aren't looking in that direction. I am watching the crew as the two youths make the rounds of the store. I give a gentle nod - no. The youth continues on. They have made their rounds, selling a few bars, and have left. The crew never even noticed. Funny too. Now that I look at the boxes I realize that they are not selling the candy for a fund raiser. They are selling directly out a Crunch and Twix box. A box that you could purchase (or steal) from Sam's. How's that for being an entrepreneur.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Climactical Chapters

I've finally come to that point in the book that all the pieces must fit together. That scene the is the culmination of all the efforts of the characters in the book. The point that all the best laid plans come tumbling down. The climax of the story is also the breaking of the novel.

A well written climax will give the reader the satisfaction from staying with the story throughout the hard parts of the book. A well written climax will give the reader the a sense of completion, as if the whole thing was worth it. The climax can also be used to snag the reader into coming back for more, like a thrill ride. If the ride is good there is desire to do it all over again.

This is especially useful if there are going to be more than one book, as I plan on writing. There is so much that rides on the climax chapters. No pressure huh?

I think that I have a good outline for the climax. I have a good vision of the choreography. So I'm thinking that it willl work out well. But as I write this I come to a realization.

Of all the books I have read, they all say that the climactical chapters are important; but none really talk about the archeticture of the climax. For example, there have been books writeen on the opening of a scene or the opening of the book. They have examples, guidlines, and what-not-to-do. There are books written on all othe aspects of the book; dialog, expositions, plots, etc. But the only thing said on the climax is that it is important.

So what are the guidlines of writing a climax? The only thing that I have to go off of is what I like about climax chapters. I seem to really enjoy climax chapters that are filled with actions and movements. Expositions should be kept to minimum, hopefully I have set most of motives in the chapters leading up to the climax. Now is a time for action. I also like climax scenes that are fast past. This will mean brief passages from multiple angles.

I think I have those angles covered. I'll write out an outline a the begining of the chapter that flows with what I wrote in the first draft. I can then use that to keep me on track for these two chapters. Once these are done, I am finished. The final two chapters of the novel I'll use the first draft manuscripts.

It's so close to being done I can taste it...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Resuffle madness

Life is slowly returning to normal from the holidays and wedding. I am trying to focus my free time on completing book. The estimates show that I am just over 12K words from completion. That is still a large number of words, but considering the end result is 172K, a measly 12K is a drop in the bucket. I wonder if 160K words is enough for a story and I am confident that 150K was enough. But this story demands more. I must continue until I am satisfied.

Chapter 32 is proving to be interesting in the manner in which I have been creating it. I began the Chapter with the understanding of what needed to be accomplished. It is a combination of segments from two scenes in my first draft. However, with the desire to increase tempo and do the climax of the book justice I have combined the concept into one chapter, but I am using it from different POVs - a lot of them. But that is not what is uique about writing this chapter.

I started with the key elements I wrote in my first draft. Key conversations and instrumental actions. In the chapter I wrote the passages in the order that they would occur. I then left a line space between the passages. From there I was able to go back and expand on the passages that I had a clearer vision on what would transpire. Doing it this was I was able to actually write out the end of the chapter before really having a beginning or middle. Knowing the ending my job is to get the cast from their point in the beginning of the chapter to what has to be the end of the chapter. Do I know everything that will happen? No. But it must happen.

Now I wonder if I have written myself into a corner...

Honestly, I don't see it being an issue. My concern at the moment is determining if I have too many POVs and if the shifts are occurring at resonable points.

Thought popped into my brain as I write this... I have noticed that I as I write more I am finding ways of eliminating adjetives from my passages. I'm not sure if this is something that I have read somewhere or something that has progressed naturally over the course of writing 250K (90K from first draft + 160K from this draft). I'll have to pay more attention to that as I move forward.

I'll add that to the list of other things I am avoiding, such as starting a sentence with an 'ing' word or 'It was'. I also have stricken certain words from my vocabulary - such as 'just', 'something', 'and', 'probably', 'no doubt'. Just to name a few.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Last night was night full of small lessons. The first of which was that it is exceedingly important to bring ones laptop charger when when one plans on having extended writing sessions at local Starbucks. Seeing how I had failed to learn this lesson prior to last evening I found myself stranded without my laptop and over an hour to go before having to show to my rehearsal with the orchestra. Bored and not wanting to remain idle I ventured into the local Barnes & Noble to check out the works of those that have come before me. I am utterly convinced that my book will sit upon the shelves with Patricia Briggs, Anne McCaffery, and Doulgas Adams. It was then that I learned my second lesson. My book will be placed upon the others only if I have the determination and dedication.

I believe that it is the determination and dedication that creates published writers. Looking through many of the books on those shelves I see that my work is on par if not better than some of the works there. The only reason they have their books on the shelves and I don't is because I have not finished yet. I must remained determined and not give up on myself or falter in my faith that I am at least a good a writer as those already published.

I also came to another realization while browsing the Science Fiction/Fantasy - Young Adult shelves. The first is that every Dark Fantasy novel deals with the same concept - Werewolves, Demons, or Vampires. I think that in that respect I have a leg up - having a Dark Fantasy novel that does not deal in those areas. Secondly, and more depressing is that most main characters are female. I can conclude two theories from that. The first is that until recently most heroes were male, so now it seems that the market is flooded with female leads. I theorize that it is because that doing so appeals to the largest demographic of readers - young females. I am hoping that this will mean that there is a good demand for the book that I am writing.

We shall see, but first I got to finish it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chapter 32 Rambling

Chapter 32 may be taken from one or two POVs. The thought is that it’ll start with Emily move to the Queen of Hearts. Then end with Emily. However, I might take the whole scene from Emily’s POV. The advantage of doing the chapter from two POVs is to quicken the pace of the story at this point. The reader is just coming from a 12 page chapter with the Queen. Granted that I might reduce Chapter 31 a bit by removing transistions and use line breaks between locations. It's still a long chapter and breaking this chapter up might be advantageous. Another possiblity is to take the second POV from either the April Hare or Beth, neither of which have really been heard of since the early chapters.

Thinking about April and Beth leads me to think that doing the chapter from their perspective would not be so bad. In fact doing it from all three perspectives would be beneficial. Start with Beth and her impression of the Queen, then move to April, and ending it off with Emily as she is being sentenced to death. Or go from Beth to Emily then to April.

The order at the moment is not really important, but I think that I just decided on a major factor to writing the chapter. Using the three perspectives. Moving from POVs while running the time line will help increase the tension as well as the pace. This will also give more greater freedom to jump around in chapter 33 (and possibly a new 34).

As for Chapter 33 - oringinally "the party crasher" I've nearly settled up breaking that into two chapters as well. There is too much happening in that chapter to be only one. It'll mean that I'll end up with 36 total chpaters, but that isn't too bad.

I am so close to finishing the book - or at least the second draft. There are several areas that I need to do revisions on, but I don't think that a major revision as I am doing now will be required. Editing though - that is a different story. I have been told even though I have tried to be conscious of it, I am still lapsing into present tense while writing. A bad habit of mine. But the fact is that I am nearly complete - 94.57% complete according to my estimation. (Yes, I know, I'm OCD. Bite me.)