Back From The Editor … Now What?

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While I was on vacation, my editor finished up with my manuscript. Being the superstar she is, she sent me two versions of the work she completed. The first version includes comments about the changes she made and grammar corrections (I have a feeling I’m going to get a major crash course in grammar rules after reading through all of them!). The second version hides all the comments and presents the manuscript as it would appear with her recommended changes.

The chaos of returning home from vacation has left me with just enough time to read the only the first page of both versions, but I’m already thrilled with the recommended changes. It’s funny how a fresh pair of eyes and a little rearranging can make such a huge difference!

Now comes the tricky decision of deciding which version to read first. On the plane ride home, I had plenty of time to think about whether I wanted to comb through the comments to get a really good understanding of her rationale before diving into the modified version or if I wanted to simply read the modified version of my novel without any explanations.

Ultimately, I decided to read the “no explanation” version first. My reasoning behind this is simple: I want to read my book as I would any other YA novel and judge it as such. Seeing as my version of the manuscript has been changed, it will be entirely new to me as a reader.

In order to further this “reader” mindset, I’m going to send the modified version to my Kindle Fire. Documents on a Kindle Fire look just like a real ebook, so that should get me in the mood to read it as if were a published novel. I used the same technique when revising the fourth draft of my novel and it worked incredibly well. In addition to creating the illusion of an ebook, the Kindle Fire also allows me to highlight and make notes within a document. That should come in handy when I read through the “comment version.”

Once I’ve read through the modified version, I’ll go back and read through all of my editor’s comments. I’ll likely have a list of notes and questions by the time I get to this version, which I can then reconcile with her rationale. From there, I can decide whether to keep the changes she made or stick with the original version.

The decision to hire an editor wasn’t an easy one and I know the next couple of weeks are going to be a huge test for me as a writer. On one side of things, I have to protect my initial vision, but on the other I need to have thick skin and open mind. My editor only wants the best for my book and it’s important that I remember this as I read through her comments and consider her alterations.

As I get ready to jump into this next phase of novel writing, I keep reminding myself that everything I do from this point on should be focused on making my novel the best it can possibly be. That might mean learning to let go of things I thought were important or considering a new way to tell a story that matters so much to me. The key element in this entire process is staying open to change.

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c.b.w. 2014

 

Are You Avoiding Revision?

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As a writer with a pencil pouch full of highlighters, sticky notes, pens of many colors, and an insatiable need organize (even when it’s really not necessary), I know what it is to procrastinate. While procrastinating on Facebook, I found this quiz to be spot on hysterical. Whether you’re writing the next classic novel or the essay that’s due tomorrow, take a little time to laugh …

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Writer’s are notorious for procrastinating, or is that just me? I tend to work in bursts of feverish writing mixed with moments of wandering off. My wanderings usually take me to Pinterest, Facebook, or an online thesaurus, which then makes me think of shopping for yarn, (I’m a writer who can’t stop knitting).

It’s a wonder I get anything done! How about you?

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c.b.w. 2014

Building a Chapbook

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After participating in the Writer’s Digest November Poem A Day Chapbook Challenge, I found myself with thirty poems and a deadline. The second phase of the challenge involves narrowing thirty poems down to twenty and arranging them into a chapbook. For a newbie such as myself, this is utterly terrifying as I don’t know the first thing about formatting a poetry manuscript.

Aside from the technical logistics of formatting the actual print manuscript, I have a bigger fear that stems from one central question: In what order should the poems be arranged? During the challenge, I chose not to lock myself into a particular theme or type of poetry. I simply followed my muse when responding to each prompt. Thanks to my willy nilly approach, I ended up with everything from multiple stanza poems to haikus.

While not ideal, I decided the wide range of poetry I wrote was more of positive than a negative. Seeing as they are all rooted in my voice, they already had one common thread binding them together. Somewhere in the madness of irregular pieces, my story was waiting to be found.

I printed all of my poems and cut them out. Squares of all sizes lay scattered across my dining room table, each one a small piece of a bigger tale.

I started by making three rows of randomly placed poems so I could see how they “reacted” with one another. From there, I just started moving poems until a timeline of sorts began to appear. Without even knowing it, I had written 20 poems describing a journey I had taken two years prior.

My last trip to London changed my life in so many ways. Everything inside of me shifted and nothing has been the same since. It was a trip that taught me I had more strength than I ever could have imagined. As it turns out, that strength has been an incredible ally as life has tossed a number of challenges my way since my return. Sometimes I wonder where I would be today had I not discovered that piece of myself.

Fragments of emotions and thoughts still wander through my mind, all of which reach back to my days of wandering London streets and soaking in a new environment. All that time alone in a country so far away changed my default settings and forced me to see my world in different way. While I recommend this experience to anyone, it is not for the faint of heart. It’s easy to lose yourself and your footing when attempting to change your perspective.

In honor of an experience that uproots any sense of foundation, my chapbook carries the title, “Finding Gravity.”

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FYI, the deadline for the chapbook challenge is January 7, 2014. Good luck to everyone who submits!

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c.b.w. 2013

Novel #2 Progress: Conflict!

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It was another great week for Novel #2. Once again, I was immersed in scenes that rank among my favorites in the story, so my already super-charged motivation received additional jolts when my writing time rolled around each day.

Word Count Progress:

Draft #1 Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 52,576
  • End Word Count: 55,440
  • Total: 2,864

Draft #2 Revised Word Count:

  • Start Word Count: 54,012
  • End Word Count: 57,074
  • Total: 3,062

Writing Process Notes:

  • This week I began reading Sever by Lauren DeStefano for two reasons: 1) I love the Chemical Garden Trilogy. It’s one of the most original and well-written YA series out there. 2) It’s written in first person, present tense. While I’m enjoying the story, I’m taking notes on the overall structure of the novel. I’m looking at this as an amazing learning tool to help me with my own work on Novel #2. I see places where I’m implementing point of view and tense correctly, but I’m also starting to see where I need to make some adjustments.

Novel Tidbit:

Conflict:

  • They say the core of every good story is conflict and that is particularly true for YA. However, for my novel I wanted to make sure the conflict I created would showcase the importance of self-reliance and selfless sacrifice for those we love.
  • Through trial and error, I discovered how important it is to make sure conflict comes from a place of truth or it will not seem authentic to readers. Even though, my novel is rooted in urban fantasy, human beings are at the core, so that’s where I had to dig to find the origins of internal and external conflict.
  • There are several layers of conflict built into Novel #2, but here are a few examples of friction in terms of characters and plot:
    • Amanda and Ian: They are a couple, but like all couples they don’t agree on everything. Ian often underestimates Amanda, (not because he thinks she is weak, but due to what he is in comparison to her mortal status), and that infuriates her! On the other hand, Amanda constantly tests Ian’s boundaries, which causes him to question the promises he’s made in the past. In addition, these two argue frequently over the concepts of free will and fate.
    • Amanda on the inside: Amanda is constantly at war with herself as she oscillates between her duty to her mother and what she wants for herself. Her fierce loyalty to family keeps her trapped in an impossible situation, while her longing for something better keeps her optimism alive.
    • Ian on the inside: Everything about Ian is a contradiction. He is locked into a particular path thanks to his true identity, but he secretly dreams of a different existence. His love for Amanda coupled with his secret could lead to his demise – a reality that haunts every decision he makes.
    • Amanda and Ian vs. The World: Ian’s friends and those from his world all disapprove of his relationship with Amanda. Ultimately, they have to fight for their right to be together, despite ancient laws and traditions bent on destroying their bond.

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c.b.w. 2013

2013 Writing Goals

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After much contemplation, I’ve finally arrived at a list of writing goals for 2013.  The goals I’ve set are designed to push me out of my comfort zone, while also challenging me to go a little further than I did last year. Within each goal, I’ve set smaller sub-goals to help me stay on track.

1) Complete final draft of Novel #2.

Novel #2 turned into my passion project in 2012 and my muse is showing no signs of changing that focus. As a result, this project will have priority status in 2013.

Sub-goals:

  • Complete revisions/editing
  • Track progress via word count bar graph
  • Send second draft to two beta readers
  • Polish final draft

2) Work on converting Novel #1 into first person.

This project has had its fair share ups and downs, but I’m not giving up on it just yet. I’ve decided to go forward with the first person conversion process with the added long-term goal of considering the possibility of e-publishing.

Sub-goals:

  • Convert at least half of the manuscript.
  • Track progress via word count bar graph
  • Research e-publishing possibilities.

3) Submit 5 pieces of writing.

Another year means another challenge of submitting my work to journals, magazines, and contests. However, this year, I’m going to try and add a bonus challenge of submitting specific kinds of work to give my writing muscle a good stretch.

Submission sub-goals:

  • One series or piece of poetry
  • One short story
  • One non-fiction piece
  • One item that is out of my element (something I normally wouldn’t write)

4) Submit three query letters for Novel #2

After last year’s learning curve, I’m bringing this goal back on a more limited scale. Hopefully, the creation of sub-goals will help keep me on track so I can have a little more success with the query letter process. Of course, all of this depends on staying true to Goal #1.

Sub-goals:

  • Finish revising current letter
  • Send final query draft to two beta readers
  • Polish final draft
  • Research agents and submit

5) Continue building author platform

Once again, I’ll be working hard to maintain and continue building my author platform. 2012 was a fantastic year of establishing a social media presence and finding a voice in the blogosphere. I’m looking to create more growth on Facebook and Twitter, while also expanding my presence on World Literary Cafe and Goodreads.

Sub-goals:

  • Increase followers on Facebook and Twitter, while also interacting with other people.
  • Increase participation on World Literary Cafe
  • Create Goodreads author page
  • Join at least one new network (for writers or readers)
  • Keep up with blog and upgrade by purchasing my own domain

6)  Read three books on the writing/publishing process.

This is an area where I definitely need to improve. I tend to get lost in fiction more than I should, so its time to pull a non-fiction book or two off my shelf. If I’m going to jump into the query letter/agent game, I should probably know a little more about what I’m up against.

Sub-goals:

  • One book about the writing process
  • One book about editing/revising
  • One book about the publishing process

7) Inspire others to keep writing.

I made the same goal last year and I enjoyed it so much, I’m bringing it back for 2013. Hopefully, through my blog and life in general, I will continue to be a positive presence to those around me.

Sub-goals:

  • Share my experiences whether a success or epic failure. Either way there is something positive to consider
  • Write posts that showcase and inspire creativity
  • Write posts that that share little pieces of wisdom as I come across them

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What are your goals this year?

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c.b.w. 2013