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Now I know why agents have to ask you to finish a manuscript before you send a query.

 

When I first started querying agents, I read that little instruction with a bit of disbelief. Why wouldn’t you finish the manuscript? Now, no longer a complete novice, I know.

 

I hate waiting. Waiting for a possible rejection or even a possible acceptance is excruciating and I’m already feeling it now. In first draft!

 

I’m progressing at a little over a chapter a day, about nine a week. Intellectually, I know this is a pretty a good clip. I’m writing not just for volume but for content. But I’m impatient with myself and I feel like I’m going agonizingly slow.

 

In between chapters, I’ve been working on a query. I’ve got a pretty good framework now and I entertained the thought, briefly, of polishing it and sending it to all those agents who only want a query. Maybe *gasp* even polishing the first five pages, a synopsis and the query, sending them all out and then picking up the manuscript where I left off.

 

We all know that it can take up to six weeks and longer for an agent to respond even to the initial query. By then, heck, by the end of February, the entire manuscript will be completed. If I send the queries out now, I can work on the manuscript while I wait. I’d be wasting time if I didn’t. What am I waiting for?

 

She sighs and hangs her head. No. I won’t.

 

Why? It has to do with professionalism and honesty. If I tell an agent I have a complete manuscript for his or her review, I’m going to have a complete manuscript for review; even if it means spending weeks waiting. I do already have the next project in mind. It’s not like I’d be twittering my thumbs or having writing withdrawals.

 

On the other hand, can you think of a better way to assure an agent asks for a complete manuscript in record time than to not have one ready?

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but the main, important story progressing scenes are all done. Just shy of 65,000 words and if I wasn’t so tired I’d be yelling YIPPEE! It’s so much easier to type than yell. : ) My mom (don’t have a nickname for her except mom) took D4 for three hours, I was going to say glorious but I don’t want you thinking that I don’t love my little munchkin, I do. 

Tomorrow I’ll do some literary spackle work and finish editing some of SO’s bits and pieces for the new book. He has an interview coming out. My goal is to learn how to put a link in the body of a post by the time it’s published.

Bit of other news. D4 and I picked two large buckets full of tangerines and oranges and spent an hour or so juicing them. 64 oz of oj is now in the process of freezing in my freezer  (I’m thinking I’ll try to save it to make orange sorbet this summer but we’ll see) We had our fill of juice and orange and the kitchen smelled divine. We also picked a wheel barrel full of grapefruit but that’s still outside. I really wish I knew someone who liked it. And my trees are still dotted with orange and yellow balls most of them so high I can’t reach them with the ladder. Sigh. I’ve wonderful tool but as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, citrus doesn’t like to be picked… the  fruit picking pole (I don’t know it’s proper name) has little tines on it like a bent fork. The idea is to catch these tines on the fruit and pull it from the tree.  It doesn’t always work with the oranges or the grapefruit. Picture this, you get a hold of a big juicy looking orange about the size of a soft ball, you pull, it doesn’t come off, you pull harder, now you’re putting your entire weight behind it and the branch is bending at almost a 90 degree angle  but the fruit still refuses to budge. So you decide to let the fruit go before the branch breaks, damaging your tree. But when you do that, it causes the tension in the branch to spring back the other way, this finally shocks the orange into letting go and so it goes flying in the opposite direction, like into your neighbor’s pool….

Yeah, we’ll call that adventures in orange picking.  Did I mention I’m tired and probably not making any sense?

One more thing, when we were out working in the yard, Mr turtle showed up. I don’t know where he’s been or what’s he’s been doing but he has complete amnesty as long as he continues eating my snails. We were going to call him Claws, but although that’s descriptive, its not a very good name. Any ideas? I’m open. Thought you might like to see one of my grapefruit trees.

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A little history

Well, it was one of those days, you know where you don’t get half as much done as you’d like and I’m really hitting a difficult crossroad in the new manuscript. Namely how much to put ‘on air’. You know, do I write that scene or let it happen ‘off camera’ …. how long do I want this  book? So instead of my 2000 words, I wrote 1500, drew a rough map so I can make sure my mental orientation works on paper, visited all my favorite writing blogs for emotional support (and a few smiles), and created a TDYK playlist. Yes, my manuscript has a play list. You know for when they make it into a movie. Just kidding… really.

Probably most of you don’t know that the reason I finally broke down and wrote the first line of the first version of the then titled Ilythra was because I’d had a dream and the dream wouldn’t leave me. In fact the dream, and it’s main character, Ilythra, seemed to be growing daily, taking up more and more of my thoughts. And there was one particular song that brought everything about the dream into sharp focus and I still don’t know why(I Need You by Jars Of Clay–go figure). By the time I sat down and began writing the story out (long hand) it was an act of self protection.  I had to get it on paper and out of my mind. It didn’t quite work that way. As I was writing the first draft (100 pages long) a friend of mine introduced me to a band called  Chasing Furies. Well that did it. Joined a writers workshop and wrote those 100 pages into an entire 110,000 word manuscript. I can still pick out scenes and even chapters that were inspired by a particular song or rather the emotion in the song.  In fact, there are some songs that the  characters have so taken over,  I can’t listen to the song without being transported back into the scene. If you want to know about my antagonist, listen to Romance Me by Chasing Furies, he’s there. Yeah I know it’s kinda a love song; it’s the tone of the song, captures his essence perfectly. If you have a Myspace and are interested, it’s in the music section. : )

Oddly enough, most of the manuscript was still written in long hand probably because I wrote every chance I could wherever I could. I wrote the ending in a little notebook, sitting in the Kaiser parking lot and sobbing my little heart out. Just as I finished, D1 called to find out when I would be home and immediately thought something was terribly wrong. I had just seen the doctor. She understood when I told her I’d just finished the book. Have I said how much I love D1? Of course that wasn’t the end. I’ve since taken the 110,000 words and translated it into four books, each about 86,000 words long. Not bad for one little dream, huh? And you know what? It’s a damn good story. Once you met Arien… well, one day I hope you get to met Arien and Ewen, Ilythra, Mohan(he stole the show in the second book) and Ryliann and well, you get the idea.

This new manuscript had it’s genesis as I was jogging on a tread-mil. No joke. I was listening to Evanescence and boom, it was there. I jumped off and started writing… Vampire, go figure. I’m not sure if I could describe it, its as though my vision goes soft and I can ‘see’ something else. The scene/characters playing out behind what I can see… My that sounds wacky. My then agent wasn’t having much luck with the three publishers she tried to sell Awakening(which I think then was called Ilydearta.) to so the next time I spoke to her, I told her about my idea. She said vampire was passe. Over done, not a good idea. This was about 8 months before Twilight hit the stands. But there is no bitterness. No, really : ) She’s a nice lady, she really is and if I wrote chick lit, I’d turn to her again but I don’t, I write fantasy. Anyway, I’ve tweaked the storyline since then and I love how it’s progressing butI think what my prose was missing was a good old fashion dose of music inspired emotion and for this manuscript Evanescence seems to fit that bill; add a little Flyleaf and Paramore… I think I’m feeling more creative already. I am the kind of writer–and I honestly don’t know if I’m odd in this– that if I can’t feel it, if I don’t fall for the protag, if I don’t cry or melt or respond to the writing, I don’t expect anyone else to do any of those things either.

Well, this certainly isn’t what I expected to blog about today. Like I said, it’s been one of those days.

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It’s the sound of the last nail in Awakening’s coffin. I know, dramatic, give me a break I’m dealing with something here. As you may of guessed I heard back from wonderful agent with a not-so-wonderful rejection of the manuscript. Don’t get me wrong, it was polite, respectful, even kind… and enough to make me want to scream. *Deep breath*

Yeah, I know I’ve moved on, but its hard to admit, even to yourself–maybe especially to yourself–that your baby is somehow flawed. I can almost hear SO take a deep breath to begin his ‘it’s a damn good book’ speech. And it is, and I know it, but even if it’s a flaw in timing, it’s still a flaw and it still isn’t a fraction closer to being published than it was a year or so ago when I decided to rescue it from the drawer. Quite frankly, chocolate is in order. To hell with the diet.

On another front (there’s always another front) Today was the first day back to school. We all woke up on time, all made it to school on time and when they were safely out the door, D4 and I cleaned the house… well the living room and kitchen with quick straighten of our respective bedrooms. But for hours today, the house, at least what visitors see, was clean. Yeah! And then I told D4 to watch tv for a half an hour(the length of a Diego episode) so mommy could work and then we’d play together. 34 minutes later, I walked out to see why she hadn’t held me to my bargain. Surprise surprise, she was sleeping! Yes, at 10 am, taking a nap. She doesn’t do that often anymore and I don’t encourage it. If it’s a matter of  her sleeping for a few hours during the day and staying up until midnight, or staying up all day and going to sleep early, I’ll pick the early. But at 10,  I mean that’s early enough that it shouldn’t affect her bedtime. Right? I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, I had two uninterrupted hours to write. That hasn’t happened, well, since she stopped taking her naps. It was nice, very nice and I got a lot of work done on some difficult chapters.

Well that’s the good and bad of it. And from the sound of things, it’s bath time.

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Question of the Day 2

I did think about this a lot. But today I have what feels like ten thousand bees buzzing in my head. No, not a cold, some damn difficult scenes and a plot point I need to advance in hte new manuscript and don’t know how. Top it off with four hyper kids who know this is the last day before school starts and want to get in as much ‘fun’ as they can which seems to involve a lot of  ‘mom! so and so is doing so and so’. So its been a bit hard to concentrate. Nothing a good walk wouldn’t sort out, the exercize seems to jog lose my creative process when it stalls.

 I don’t think I ever could do what Tammy did and just walk away from technology but I’d be lying if I didn’t sometimes feel a little jealous. Why? The simplicity. Technology makes our lives complicated. It really does. Sometimes those complications are a good thing, but sometimes they aren’t. 

I was running through my favorite inventions and imagining life without them and I could see a trend. For example: I love my washing machine. It’s difficult imagine life with  five kids without one. But would my children (or I) own so many clothes that they won’t fit in our closets if we had to wash them by hand? And wouldn’t we take better care of them? IE: picture a teenage girl’s room. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped playing with my kids or helping them with their homework or just talking to them so I could go answer the phone. I spend a lot of time answering the phone. The moment I stopped doing something that was important to do something that might be, but probably isn’t, my quality of life went down, not up. Technology went from being a help to an intrusion.

It can happen with anything. I love my computer. I need my computer. I can’t imagine writing a manuscript without cut and paste and formatting and all the gadgets that I use. Not to mention my SO lives half way around the world so email is my friend. But there are times that I’m surfing the net because I’m in between scenes or playing solitaire to unwind and I could be with my kids and where are they? On their various games probably. I have sent D2 a message on myspace when I could have walked into the other room and told her myself.  We all exist in this house but at times we don’t all exist together, you know? Sure I put checks and balances on it– ‘no son, you can’t take the DS in the bathtub with you’ — No. Seriously. But it’s there and in quantity and its fighting for their attention and guess what? It’s more interesting than me, school work or chores or pretty much most things. In a world where first graders have cell phones, there are 10 billion channels, DVD players, Wii’s and PS2s, how do you teach children to ‘play’. Simple I guess, turn it off. Only that’s not always so simple. Try it. I just imagined the look in my niece’s or cousin’s eye if I told them they couldn’t have their cell for two hours. No high speed internet! What?!? They’d go ballistic. I don’t think they’re alone in that. But what does a 17 or 14 year old girl need a cell phone for? 

And it’s not just electronics. Technology has changed the family dynamic. We no longer need to work together to survive. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, personally, I like having a thermostat and running water, but it is one reason why my children have chores. I want them to know they are necessary to the running of this house. They belong, they’re needed. I want them to know we, as a family, are a team. I’m hoping they will feel valued.

Do they? No, now I’m the not so cool mom who won’t let them on the computer until they make their bed and I have heard D2 say, ‘no I have to do chores.’ on the phone talking to her un chored friends with a tone of whiny resignation. Will they? I don’t know.

To sum it up? Technology is a good thing, a very good thing for a lot of reasons, but like most good things, too much of it tints it to bad. I think it comes down to whether you own the technology or it owns you.

So yeah, if you call and I don’t answer, I’m probably playing with my kids.

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Well, SO is safe, exhausted but safe, back half way across the world and I swear the house is two degrees colder. No, really. OB finally got the ick night before last but he seems to be doing better. He’s the last so lets hope it doesn’t make another round. And one last item: I’ve begun the countdown until school starts again.

Love the kids, really I do, but the extra week of Christmas break feels too much like summer without the option of saying, ‘why don’t you guys go play outside for awhile’.  Torture.

I’m still on par with my writing schedule. I’m thinking the rough draft is now about 2/3 rds done. Then I’ll go back and edit chapter by chapter and that will be the first draft. I’ll send it over, chapter  by chapter, to SO who will edit and send it back. We’ve gotten better, we used to do this 4 or 5 times, now just 2; but we always read it aloud before we call it finished. It’s amazing what you hear but didn’t read.  Then the synopsis and query, I’m already deep in stress land about the pitch.  ARGH I’m not even going to think of it until I’ve finished my second cup of coffee.

I am way behind on the editing front. But as this book doesn’t actually have a buyer, I suppose it’s okay. (Read SO keeps saying, don’t worry about it, finish the rough draft first and I know, somewhere behind that is the fact that as soon as the book he’s working on now, the one we DO have an option on, is finished, I will switch priorities to editing in order to get it into Anne’s lovely hands as soon as possible and He wants the rough draft done by then.)

I’m a bit worried about this third book, it’s rather large and the scope is…. well, huge. It might just be the kind of thing that is either a best seller or a flop and I don’t have much faith in the gods of chance, you know? But then I’m a newbie in the publishing world and know enough to know I don’t know anything except what makes a good story and that doesn’t always translate to sales.

So when the time comes, I’ll edit it to the best of my ability and leave the rest to Anne. I’ve grown to rather trust her judgement….too bad she’s not my editor too. : ) Ah, one day.

On that front, I received a new rejection in my in-box this morning. I’ll have to check my excel because I thought everyone who would respond, had responded. Nice polite, not right for my list, stuff. I still haven’t heard from the wonderful agent (and I did my research this time, she is wonderful) who requested a partial and I don’t know why I’m so unwilling to type her name, but I am, so there.

So far on the board (not counting query letters): I refused one offer, one agent declined after reading the manuscript (that hurt) and I still haven’t heard from the third (WA) who only has a partial.

I’m becoming resigned to the fact that this means she’s not interested. So okay, I mean I am already moving on, but its like having that one thing you really wanted to say to a new ex that you never really said… you know unfinished business.  

And now reader, I’ve put off what I really need to do long enough. Namely take a shower and get moving. In my defense, it’s cold in the house.

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Addiction

I don’t make resolutions. My theory has always been if you’re going to do it, just do it and don’t say you’re going to. But I thought perhaps if I put my goal out here, it would help me to reach it. Nothing like a little pressure to keep you going. So here it is: I’m planning to finish this draft by the end of January. It means I’m going to have to write 2000 word a day, but that’s not undo-able, you know?

I’ve also started editing one of SO’s manuscripts, with another in the wings. That will add to the pressure. To reach my editing goal (and dangle the manuscript under the editors noses in time to fulfill SO’s contract ) I’m needing to edit 50 pages a day. Because of the strange way my brain works, adding the editing to my writing has actually inspired me to write more instead of despairing about having too much to do. Perhaps I work best under pressure, I don’t know. I do know, I’ve written 1500 words today so far and made notes for the next 10 chapters and I’ve edited 40 pages. So what am I doing here? I’m taking a short break. And of course what to do while taking a break from writing? Why write on your blog of course. It’s an incurable addiction, really it is.

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