Monday, July 25, 2011

Dear Story

Dear Shiny New Story,

Oh, how I love thee, my story, in all your shiny newness. Your sparkling ideas. Your youthful hope. Gone are all my thoughts of those "other" stories. I thought I loved them, but none of those loves can compare to you, my Shiny New Story.

Even though I've only known you for 13k words, I know it was fate that brought us together. As soon as I laid thoughts on you I knew you were the One. I hope you do not think me rash, my Shiny New Story, but I've already started practicing writing my name below your title (or I would if I actually knew what your title will be).

You are so witty, my Story. Your prose are flawless (at least the ones I remember, I haven't actually gone back to read them). Not a plot hole in sight.

I know people will say that our love wont last, that I'm ignoring your flaws, but they are all wrong. We are different then all the others. Together we will dance into the sunset, hand in hand, and right onto the NYT Best Seller list.

With you at my side, my Shiny New Story, nothing can stop us.

Adoringly yours,

To be continued...

Picture from

Friday, July 22, 2011

Kissing the Frog: Reading Backwards

I'm still working on editing Beneath a Broken Sky, but as I'm doing that I'm also getting critiques back from my different readers for In the Twilight Between. It made me realize that I have a lot of errors in this particular manuscript and I know why.

As I've stated before, I'm dyslexic. Over the years I've tried several different methods to combat this (btw, nothing really works, but I still try). One thing I tried was a dictation program. My hope was that I could edit my story, print it out, then read it back into the computer and weed out all my spelling errors.

Unfortunately it didn't work out like I had hoped. The dictation program did pretty good, but it miss heard me fairly often. Things like my heroine's name "Nadya" it would write "not yet a". I never got it to recognize that name and started calling her Jane, then find and replaced it later.

So in the end it created more problems then it helped.

Now I have to go through and try to find all the errors. The problem is I've read this MS fifteen billion times. When I start reading my eyes gloss right over the words (or I start quoting it from memory, followed by twitching and the urge to poke my eyes out with my pen).

I had heard of reading your story backwards as a trick for proof copies and I decided to give it a try. I have to say it works slick.

You start with the last page, go to the last paragraph and read through it. Then you go to the second to the last paragraph and so forth all the way through the book. By reading a paragraph at a time you still get the sentence structure, but your mind doesn't get engaged in the story. Every time you change paragraphs it brakes up the monotony and helps you focus on just that one part.

So far it's really been helping me and I would encourage anyone trying to proof edit their work to give it a try.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

To live or to die

Earlier this week I opened up my email and found a brand new rejection letter to one of my agent queries. Now I'm not new to rejections (I have nearly 30 of them so far), but this morning I have to admit it got to me and I gave in to the despair for a little while.

As writers we strive and struggle to write the first draft, then we continue the battle into the edits, revisions and rewrites. After that we move to the next battle with writing the query letter and synopsis. Then finding the right agent to query, organizing everything and sending it off.

You would think after a solid year (or much much longer) of fighting we would be on the down hill slope.

You would be wrong.

This is where the real battle begins. When those rejection letters rolls in, we need to really make a decision. That diction will put your writing life on the line.

If you've done your homework then you'll probably be braced for the first ten maybe twenty rejections, but of course you hope that you'll be the exception and be accepted the first try.

One rejection arrives after another. Five, your still ok, a little disappointed, but ok. Ten, you start to have doubts, was it really that bad? Maybe I should rewrite the query. Fifteen, this has gone on way longer then you had expected, but you stick with it. Twenty, despair is hovering over your head, landing whenever you even glance at your email and you are scared to look at the mail box.

Now is the time that you make your decision. You really only have two choices, to live or to die:

You can look at your pile of rejections and let the despair sink deeper. Like a slow acting poison it will seep into you and take hold. You'll start writing less and less. That new idea probably sucks just as much as the last one. Why bother? It will just be rejected too. Soon you'll stop writing all together. And just like a plant with no sunlight your writing self will die.

Or you look at your pile of rejections, maybe cry a little, maybe buy a bottle of wine and pretend they don't exist for a day or two. But then you shake it off. You don't let the despair take root. Maybe this story doesn't work. That doesn't mean the next one wont. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. You sit down and start the battle all over again.

This is the difference between "writers" and those who have written a novel. A writer will keep going because that is what is in us. The love that will weather the darkest storm. I have a friend I talked to last week who has written a novel. He has come up against the wave of rejections and some poor choices. He confessed to me that he was frustrated and hadn't written anything in months. I fear that his writer self is already dyeing.

Being a writer is a battle and a joy. It's a pain and a relief. It will drive you crazy and sometimes it's the only thing that keeps us sane. That is the duality of writing. Of being a writer. It's not easy, but nothing worth fighting for is.

On another note, I've started a new story. 7k words so far. I'll have to put up a little word count widget to show my progress over the next few months.

Picture from

Friday, July 8, 2011

Done! (well, not really)

I finished the first round of edits for Beneath a Broken Sky Wednesday (yay!). In that round I went through and cut big scenes, added new ones and made sure everything was where it was supposed to be. Big stuff. I didn't bother with too much line editing at this point. If I saw something then I would fix it, but I didn't allow myself to obsess.

Now(proving how it's time for the paper edits/line edits. For this I like to print the whole thing out and slap it in a binder. There's just something different about having the fiscal paper to look at that makes you see things that you missed before. It's also cool to have tangible proof of all your hard work. On the computer you can look at the file size, but that doesn't have the same impact as slamming down 301 pages of solid story on your kitchen table.

As I move into this new round of edits I'm going to be focusing on my description. I'm one of those writers who (if she isn't careful) has characters talking in a white room. I don't like going on and on about the furniture or the trees or whatever else is surrounding them, but of course I need to have something there. So that's what I'm going to be focusing on.

I've found that it helps to pick one main thing to look for when going through a round of edits. If I try to fix everything all at once, I'll go crazy and the book will never be done. But if I just pick one, there's a much better chance that I'll actually fix that one thing and at the same time I won't go completely insane. Pick your battles and fight them to your fullest.

On another note, my desk is a mess again (well, messy for me at least). Scraps of paper, scissors, little pictures, note book pages with scribbles on them, a half drank cup of tea and sticky notes. That can only mean one thing... I'm almost ready to start writing a new story.