2014 Goals: August Status Report

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I’m a little late with this update, because I was way too excited about finishing the read-through of my edited manuscript. Priorities mandated writing about that accomplishment first!

1) Pitch The Muse.

August was all about finishing up the monumental task of reading through the edited manuscript of The Muse, (see The Last Line). Thanks to work and a nasty cold that task took a little longer than I would have liked, but ultimately the goal was achieved.

As I wrote last week, I am immensely happy with the work my editor has done. I have a small list of changes (about 30) to make and I’ll be working my way through that list during September.

In addition, I’m close to finalizing my query letter. Once changes are made in the manuscript, I plan on starting the pitching process once again. The most recent issue of Writer’s Digest has a list of agents looking for writers and a few of them might be a good fit for my novel. Here I come!

2) Outline and start writing The Muse: Lineage

As I wrote last week, the epilogue for The Muse is causing a few problems.  Therefore, most of my focus for the sequel has been on figuring out how to get out of the corner I’ve created. The good news is I’m starting to make some headway.

3) Submit writing.

Tunnel vision regarding The Muse keeps this goal on the shelf.

4) Continue to build author platform.

Facebook continues to be my favorite hangout. This month saw more growth in traffic and Likes. Hope you’re all enjoying the quotes, images, and random quips!

Twitter, however, continues to be my weak spot. Once again, my total followers dropped despite acquiring several new followers. One of these days I’ll figure out why Twitter is fun.

Facebook likes grew from 373 to 375

Twitter followers dropped from 551 to 544

Thanks so much to everyone for clicking those follow and like buttons! Your support is greatly appreciated.

5) Inspire others.

As always, I hope I am a positive presence.

The invisible goal:

6) Be flexible.

My eyes are open and so is my mind. As I start to see out agents, I’m also seeking out other modes of publication. One way or another The Muse will be in print.

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c.b.w. 2014

Too Much Information

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The good thing about living the Age of Information is there’s a lot of information readily available. The bad thing is there’s a lot of information readily available. I find myself wedged between my thirst for knowledge relating to writing/publishing on one side and the overwhelming sense that my brain is about to explode on the other.  In the last week alone, I bought three writing magazines filled with helpful articles covering writing tips, reference sources for agents, publication listings, websites, submission checklists, and advice from bestselling novelists. I’m soaking it all up like a dry shammy, but I’m fairly certain all the pieces of information I highlighted in purple are going to get lost in the shuffle.

Information Overload!

I always feel like I’m on a steep learning curve because I haven’t been published (beyond a little blip in the local newspaper) and I think a lot of other unpublished writers feel the same way.  We are constantly researching the industry and trying to figure out how it all works – knowledge is power, right? However, I can’t help but question how much is too much.  There are a million books out there with a tried-and-true methods of writing a novel, magazines that come out every month with loads of do’s and don’ts, and websites that teach everything from writing query letters to crafting the perfect sentence.  When do we stop listening to what everyone else says and start relying on our own instincts?  I’m torn between wanting to follow the rules in order to be a publisher pleaser and wanting to break every single rule in the name of creativity.

Agents are looking for fresh voices and strong writing that stands out above the rest, but there is also a strict code of rules when it comes to the format of query letters, synopses, and manuscripts. The most frustrating part of it all is that some of these rules are infuriatingly vague. Each agent is looking for something different, but they all speak the same secret language.  Now, I say this as an outsider looking in and perhaps this reflects my naïveté concerning the whole process.  There’s also the fact that I’ve been staring at a blank page for months every time I sit down to write a synopsis. Even after reading multiple how-to articles and books, I still have no idea how to tackle this mountain.

As with most things in life, balance is the key.  Information gleaned from other people will help, but only to a certain level.  The rest has to come from me, which means I have to start making decisions on what pieces of advice I will follow and those I will ignore in favor of my own ideas.  In coming to this conclusion, I realize it’s not what I know that gets my foot in the publishing door, it’s the chances I’m willing to take to get my work noticed.

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c.b. 2012

Query Letter Lessons

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I haven’t looked at my query letter in over a week.  For the most part it’s done and all I have to do is send it out.  Or so I thought.  The more I research agents and agencies the more I realize there is a lot more to this process than I ever imagined!  Most of the agents I’ve pegged as possibilities want more than just a query letter.  They want a one-page or extended synopsis, the first 10 pages, or the first five chapters.  All things I thought would come after I was rejected a few dozen times and then finally accepted by one (wonderful) agent.  It’s funny how my writer’s imagination often tries to paint my future!

My goal was to send out three queries before the end of the year, but the added tasks at hand are a bit concerning. I now find myself scrambling to polish my novel’s minor punctuation errors and fixing a few issues regarding missing “of’s” “the’s” and the bane of my writers existence: homophone mix-ups. It looks like I’ll be spending a few more evenings in my writing spot to get all of this done!

It’s all so maddening, but I can’t help but step back and do a little self-reflection.  I’ve learned a lot since I made the decision to try and get published.  The process is far from over and I have a lot more to learn, but here’s where I stand now:

1) Query letters truly test your ability to not only write, but sell your story.  I truly believe this is the ultimate test of whether I’ve got the gumption to follow through.

2) Writing a synopsis is difficult, but I’m making it much harder than it needs to be. My fears and doubts are holding me back and I need to start fighting.

3)  My novel is done, but I’ll always want to change it no matter what.  My inner perfectionist will never be satisfied and I have to learn to be okay with that.

4) I can’t make everyone happy.  Everyone sees my novel differently and perceives my query letter through an individual lens.  I can’t beat myself up when someone doesn’t get it.

5) Allowing doubt to fuel my procrastination has to stop.  Today.

c.b. 2011