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Sep 29, 2010

The First Cut is the Deepest

I’m sure I’ve said before that writing the novel is the easy part, but let me reiterate. The first draft of a novel is glorious, you’re not worried about all of the blunders you’ve slipped into the manuscript, you’re just riding the high of telling the story. Now, I’ll admit, my first drafts often tend to end up being crap. I have a weird propensity to throw in random apostrophes, leave off question marks when that question is in a compound sentence, capitalize odd things and completely leave out bits of information between lines of dialog with a strange space between quotation marks….

I have a feeling my first round betas want to pull their hair out when they see all of those lovely little errors. I am not a nice person. I do a first draft, followed by a content/whatever-I-can-catch edit and then let someone else deal with it. Thanks Jenna & Katie.

That being said… I’ve finished my second draft of my space western that still has no name – pulling my hair out on that still – and both betas are nearly done! Yay!

Let’s talk about what I mean by “Content/whatever-I-can-catch edit.”

I’m one of those people – yes, one of those people – who often thinks that I’ve written something into a novel, but haven’t. I’m a little harebrained. So my first go over of that rough draft is like a fun little search game in which I’m looking for the things I’ve failed to put in. Oh! The Horror!

Now, that being my focus, I don’t notice grammatical errors and the like, which I should probably be looking for, but hey, I’m far from perfect.

So it often happens, as it did with my space western, that my word count jumps up. This time I went from 86k to 91k. We’ll see what it ends up looking like after draft 8…

Sep 26, 2010

Another Poll Closed

The results are as follows
A – 9 votes
B – 2 votes
C – 1 vote

From the general notes I’ve received about paragraph A, the big factor in it’s overwhelming victory is the beginning sentence. “Skydra is a killer.” I do need to change the third sentence up a bit, since a) it’s uber long and b) it’s repetitive at the beginning.

Paragraph B is a funny thing, because it’s the summary paragraph I originally sent in and received a request for partial from. It’s been five months since I last submitted, so I figured that if it were the better paragraph, there’d be no harm in resubmitting the same thing. But that’s okay.

All that I can say about paragraph C is… sorry Jenna.

Now I just have to fix the part in the brackets….

Skydra is a killer. The daughter of a deranged tyrant, she is supposed to be the delicate weapon her father has molded her to be.[She isn’t supposed to have a conscience, she isn’t supposed to hear your thoughts, but moments of split consciousness allow her access to the thoughts of others, and have made her a silent observer to the atrocities of her father, including her own mother’s death.]This gift now shows her that the man she is supposed to marry and kill is in no way worthy of that fate. As she gets to know his mind, she finds her task more and more difficult. Soon she is unsure if she will be able to fulfill her father’s demands, and duty to her country, by killing the man she is growing to love.

Sep 23, 2010

Musings on Midnight Fears of Rejection

Faint whispers fill the blackest night, a chorus of reminders.

We must remember who we are, in the soul of a finder.

They seek to undermine us, every inch of our control.

Pushing and prodding they’ll try to divide us, to turn us on the whole.

Errant thoughts invade our mind, Seditious to their core.

We hope to o’erpower them, and keep out any more.

Attempts that may be futile, will move us a measure.

If we drive them out completely, our thoughts we can treasure.

Sep 21, 2010

Words I didn’t know I loved until I revised my novel: A list.

I wrote this a while ago, but it was passed over in posting because Evil Editor reviewed my query. It wasn’t until Randine posted an entry about words she hates that I remembered them. And so, without further adieu, the list!

Alacrity (Promptness or eager and speedy readiness) – I see this word now and I know why I love it (and therefore use it quite often). It has four syllables. It’s a very concussive word. And frankly I think it sounds more whimsical than the alternatives. Why wouldn’t I love this word?

Derision (Mocking scorn) – let’s face it. In my novels I come up with some pretty mean characters, because, well, there are mean people in the world, nothing is going to change that.

Disdain (regarding someone as not worth of respect) – what can I say, I like me some scorn.

Penitent (feeling regret for sins) – I’ve loved this word since the first time I say Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. “Only the penitent man may pass.” And once again, this is a very concussive word. I like them words that be heavy on the consonants, you know.

Penchant (liking or tendency toward something) – don’t ask me why, I just have a penchant for the word penchant.

Plight (unfortunate condition) – Apparently I like words that start with a “p” and end with a “t”.

Slightly (very small, thin, insubstantial) – Oh I hate this little modifier. Now that I recognize it, I do, anyway.

And one word I’ve knowingly loved for a while:

Granted – Granted, I use this more when I’m talking. In fact, I use the word “Granted” like an eleven-teen year old uses “Like.” Ok, maybe not that bad.


Please help me out by picking a query if you haven't already! Thanks

Sep 17, 2010

Pick a Query... Any Query #2

It's time for another round of Pick-a-Query! Please do me the favor of reading through these three options and picking the one that most makes you want to read the novel. Let me know which you like best by voting in the pole that is at the top right of the screen and as always, feel free to comment at your leisure. Thanks for your help!

A.


Skydra is a killer. The daughter of a deranged tyrant, she is supposed to be the delicate weapon her father has molded her to be. She isn’t supposed to have a conscience, she isn’t supposed to hear your thoughts, but moments of split consciousness allow her access to the thoughts of others, even through the walls of the mind, and have made her a silent observer to the atrocities of her father, including her own mother’s death. This gift now shows her that the man she is supposed to marry and kill is in no way worthy of that fate. As she gets to know his mind, she finds her task more and more difficult. Soon she is unsure if she will be able to fulfill her father’s demands, and duty to her country, by killing the man she is growing to love.


B.

Being the loyal daughter of an oppressive Emperor is one thing, murdering for him is quite another. That is exactly what is being asked of Skydra, the eldest daughter of Vladimir, the Emperor of Hetia. But Skydra has an unnatural gift: moments of split consciousness allow her access to the thoughts of others, and have made her a silent observer to the atrocities of her father, including her own mother’s death. This gift now shows her that the man she is supposed to kill is in no way worthy of that fate. With the knowledge of exactly what fulfilling her father’s demand, and duty to her country, will cost. She must decide between duty and death.

C.

Skydra is a princess and a killer. The daughter of a deranged and tyrannical emperor, she is more than the delicate weapon her father has molded her to be. Though years of training attempted to stomp out any remnants of compassion, one secret has kept her human. Moments of split consciousness allow her access to the thoughts of others, and have made her a silent observer to the atrocities of her father, including her own mother’s death. This gift now shows her that the prince she is supposed to marry and kill is in no way worthy of his fate. Her time with the prince reveals the possibility of a life he didn’t dream she could have. She is torn by the realization that fulfilling her father’s demands and duty to her country will mean killing the man she is growing to love.

Sep 16, 2010

3 Points On Querying & Rejection Gleaned From An Annoying Comment.

I was perusing the comments on the author pages at Querytracker.net and came across a few notes that made me shake my head.

One was an individual who was irked by the fact that the particular agent he’d queried and received a rejection from. His comment was pitched with hostility toward said agent because she “doesn't read the queries -- her assistant does.” As well as the fact that his query was rejected quickly. He cited the fact that the agent who has a limited number of male clients (I only know of two that she reps at the moment) as a possible basis for his rejection.

I don’t understand the logic that comes into play her. I understand that the commenter was angry, we all feel hurt and a little hopeless when we get the “thanks, but no thanks” email. But lashing out doesn’t do you any good.

A few points.

Number 1 – Agents are busy people. The fact that they’re accepting queries from potential new clients at all is a mark that they understand that there are diamonds to be found in the slush pile. But busy agents don’t always have time to sift through looking for those diamonds. That is why they hire assistants, those lovely people who sit at a desk and answer the emails of we unpublished – and sometimes desperate – few who feel that their agency is the right one for us. I understand that this gentleman may have felt cheated because his query was read by an assistant, not the actual agent, but that assistant wouldn’t have a job if they didn’t know what they were doing. An agent’s assistant is going to know what they’re looking for.

Point#1: When querying, always assume you have to get past the assistant first.

Number 2 – When I receive a quick response to a query I rejoice. Regardless of what that answer is. The record is a 48minute response time. It was a rejection, but I didn’t have to woolgather over it for a millennia. Did I mention that I got a query back a few weeks ago that I didn’t even remember sending… it took that long to get a response. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to waiting for a query response, I’d rather get a swift “No” than have to wait ten months for it. I’d gather that the his annoyance with the quick response lies in the fact that he feels his query wasn’t given due consideration. The point of your query is to grab an agent. If it doesn’t grab the assistant… chances are, it’s not going to grab the agent.

Point #2 – Swift responses are little blessings… they keep you from getting an ulcer.

Number 3 – I cannot believe the number of time’s I’ve seen a complaint about the publishing industry being sexist toward men… I always balk at that. If you look at the numbers, most of the reading base is women – it’s why romance novels do so well. That being said. I have to laugh at the fact that so many unpublished men out there chalk their rejection up to their gender. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of authors like Dan Brown, Orson Scott Card, Michael Creighton, John Grissam(sp?), Clive Cussler… men who were obviously not hindered by their gender. It’s true, this agent is not known for male clients, but I don’t think that’s specifically because she’s anti-male authors… like I said, she has signed at least two that I know of, one who’s been on the NYT Best Seller list for ages now. I think that it’s just a matter of the fact that she hasn’t seen books from enough men that grab her attention.

Point#3 – Don’t blame erroneous factors for your rejection.

Sep 14, 2010

Battling With the Impatience of My Seven Year Old Self

We’ve discussed that impatient seven year old girl who lives in side of me and is constantly threatening to shatter my façade of “Adultness,” right?

Well, maybe we haven’t discussed the fact that I like to project the image of my seven year old self onto that impatience. I do because, let’s face it, it just works. And it makes me feel like I’m a little less in control of it… I mean, you have no idea of the kind of energy I had back then.
(Don't let the wings fool you...)

In speaking with my father during one of our quarterly phone chats – I’m a horrible daughter, I know I should call more, I’m just… very distracted. And there’s always this feeling of disapproval which I’m probably making up in my head – he recounted to me that when I was little (he didn’t give an exact age, but I recall seven as being an overly hyper age) he once had me for a two week vacation. My parents separated when I was four and I lived with my mom mostly. According to dad, he took me home half way through my stay because “I was quite a handful back then.” I think this is one of those reasons that I’m leary about ever having kids – I was a handful![

Back to how this applies to my writing… I have two weeks until my critique partner returns my ms (and I likewise return hers to her) and I’m chomping at the bit to start querying again (enter seven year old girl).

23yo: Yay I only have two more weeks until my timeline is back in my hands!
7yo: You could send out a query or two now… it could take them two weeks to respond, and then you’d already have things waiting for you when you got the ms back.
23yo: but, Joann could be coddling me by telling me she doesn’t thing a lot needs to change… I should wait and see how much work needs to be done.
7yo: But I want to do it NOW!
23yo: *eardrums bleeding from 7yo screams* you may have a point…

But in the end I snuff that seven year old and instead write a blog post about her because, as we all know, patience is a virtue and we’d all like to be virtuous (at least I’d like to think we’d all like to be virtuous.

So now, I will not send off I query. I will instead return to a ms that is like those snake “firecrackers”…. you know, the ones that look like teeny tiny hockey pucks, but you light them and there’s no spark or anything like that, they just grow and grow like no body’s business. Or like one of those little pills that when immersed in water can become a giant dinosaur.

(p.s. I think it’s the 7yo who’s coming up with all of these analogies.)

Sep 12, 2010

Tear Me A New One, And By “One” I Mean “Query”….

So, a while back, I sent in that lovely query you all helped me so much with by voting on – you know, that one for my space western – to Evil Editor, a blog persona notorious for tearing apart queries. I emailed my query and braced myself for the eventual shreddage.


Friday, he provided his critique. You may read it here at his blog.

I’d hoped for help in ways to make this query better and yet, I find that his monologue about the number of stars in a galaxy proves that I’ve gotten pretty good at writing these things. The thing is, his critique helped me a lot, even though it didn’t require a lot of change. It requires a completely new reworking. I realized from what he’s said, that I need to start from scratch.

Why, you may ask… When he didn’t really have much bad to say? The thing of it is. My query, and more specifically, the title, led you to believe that Calliope is the protagonist, when in fact, she’s the Antagonist. So I have failed in the category of “Don’t confuse the people you want to buy your book.”

So, it’s back to the drawing board, thanks to dear EE. Everything is a reminder that writing is a process that requires all of you.

Sep 9, 2010

Why “Angst” Doesn’t Work For Me…

I am a very empathetic person, this flows over into both my reading and my writing.

When reading, if the book is depressing, I, consequently, am depressed. Happy books make me happy. I’m an emotional reader. Not an emotional eater. Good books make me cry, they make me laugh. That is the measure of a good book for me: physical emotional response.

When I write however, it is not a good thing for me to be influenced by outward emotions. If something irks me, it can mess up my entire day. If I find myself irritated the words wont flow. I don’t need to be in a good mood. In fact, my best writing is done when I feel completely neutral.

It’s like a pH balance. I’d prefer to be at a 7 (neutral), but I can deal with a range around seven. As long as I don’t get above 10, or below 4, I’m still able to work. Once I get closer to the base or acid ranges, my productivity begins to break down until it deteriorates completely.

Sep 7, 2010

I Believe I know What it is Like To Drown.

(Photo by Rachel Malone)

While taking little breaks from my “In a Month” novel, I’ve been returning to “Book 2” the novel created when I revised Duty and Death. Things that were cut from book one were put in a file to be woven into the fabric of “Book 2” when I returned to it.

Now, as I look at the 8,000-words that want a place in this novel, I’m feeling as though those words are forming a giant wall of water that is crashing down on me. This is why I feel that I know what it is like to drown.

It’s similar to what happened when I abandoned the story the first time and returned to it. Except, instead of rearranging and then adding a large number of words, the words are already there and I have to make room for them where I can – and it still makes sense – or I have to cut them (though it breaks my heart).

In the end, I know that my frustration will eventually pay off. I will find the story that needs to be told and my head will not explode, though it may seem alarmingly close to doing so.

Sep 5, 2010

Things I Have Read Recently:

Critique Partner’s MS by Joann Mannix – No spoilers (I’d say sorry, but I’m not sorry for that.) It’s not a genre that I read much of, but it was a good book. And I made my way through it quickly. Touché Joann, Touché. I look forward to working with you for a long time to come.

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy – (I know, I know, if you're paying attention, you'll know I’ve already read this. And generally, I don’t re-read books that soon after I’ve first read them, but this one was worth it.) As far as the revitalization or my faith in SF, this novel has had a huge hand in it. Beautifully written, the novel keeps you on the edge of your seat as you make your way through the universe Ms. Creasy has created. If you haven’t already, based on my previous glowing reports or those of someone else, go buy it now.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – I found this book entertaining, but not enjoyable. I had some serious issues with the novel’s stand point on morality and that soured the rest of the book for me. In the end I was reading out of the curiosity of what horrible things Mr. Card would do to Ender or in turn what he would make Ender do to others. I have no desire to read any of the other books in this series.

Spindles End by Robin McKinley – I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. I’ll admit that a retelling of my favorite fairy tale was already at a disadvantage. This was a story I’ve memorized from the time that I was a little girl, and the fact remains that I don’t think something should be fixed when it isn’t broken. It was interesting to read another take on the story, but the amount of detail made the novel drag on and on until I had to pick up another book and read it for a break.

Up Next:

Dune by Frank Herbert – I have tried to read this novel a great many times. 4th grade, 6th, 8th, and then I gave up. I’m going to do it this time. If I can get through Kilkenny and Ender’s game, I can read Dune. I already know I love the storyline. But now I’ll get the authors view and that excites me greatly.

Sep 2, 2010

The Bits and Pieces of an End



I’m at the point in my “in a month” novel that I’ve got the basic storyline written I’m just filling in the bits and pieces…

I told a friend yesterday that this is the hard part for me… it’s like staring at a plate with a steak on it and being forced to nibble on the sprig of parsley that is a garnish.

I want my meat and potatoes!