Friday, February 24, 2012

ABC Award!

I just got my first blog award!  My friend, Dianne Wilson, who I just met this week on Twitter, nominated me.  Dianne has a great blog.  Stop in and say, hi to her!  In just a few days, I feel like I've known Dianne and so many other people (hi #ClubAwesome!) for a long time.  Thank you for making this shy girl feel so welcome! 

I'm passing this award along to the wonderful Alex Villasante, another fabulous webfriend.  Jump over to her blog and check it out!

Here are the rules:

Add the logo to your site.
Pass the ABC award on to other bloggers.
Use the alphabet to make a list of words describing you so readers will learn more about you

Now, on to my list.  The whole family helped out.  I think they had more fun than I did!

E-Enthusiastic Equestrian (I'm a Kentuckian, I have to love horses!)
O-Open minded
S-Studious (although my husband said to put sexy-love that now that I'm in my 40s!)
W-Weird (my son Zach's choice!)
X-Xanthous (means yellow-haired)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Revision Update

As you know I'm smack in the middle of revising my novel--which is why posting here has become so spotty.  Anyway, I promised to post periodic updates and talk a little more about my editor's notes and comments. 

I want to share the process because I don't see a lot out there about what happens after you sign with an agent.  Now keep in mind, this is just my experience.  Everyone is unique--which is what makes you all wonderful!--so your experience might be different.

So after I signed with Dan, we agreed that the novel needed some revisions, which is pretty typical.  Now the revisions we're talking about are not minor things.  They involve cutting huge swaths of the manuscript which means of course that I have to write new material to replace what we took out. 

I knew this going in, and I'm fine with it.  In fact, let me just pause here and give a shout out to Dan Lazar.  He has such a keen literary eye.  Not because he signed me (although of course that helps!) but because he can look at a book and get exactly what tone the author is trying to convey.  Then he helps tighten the focus and play up that tone.  For me, I'm hoping to convey a beautiful strangeness in my work, and he soooo got that. 

We are working with an independent editor on the revisions, and let me tell you, she is fantastic!  Like Dan, she totally gets what I'm trying to do.  She spent a lot of time going over the manuscript and pulling out its emotional core.  Then she offered suggestions on how to strengthen the emotions in the book.  Because that's what we care about, isn't it?  If we don't have an emotional tie to the characters in a novel, we don't really care what happens. 

Anyway, I sent her the manuscript before Christmas and I got a letter in the mail with her comments a few weeks ago.  (We had been emailing back and forth during this time so I knew to expect the letter.)  Eight single-spaced typed pages.  She examined each character and included specific suggestions on how to improve them.  Then she looked at the plotting and helped me figure out how to tighten the pacing.  Unfortunately for me, that involves cutting part of one character's POV.  Yikes! Which means I have about 1/3 of the novel to reconstruct.  That's why I haven't been as active here lately! 

Anyway, although cutting that POV meant a lot of work, I took a deep breath and saw that she was right.  That POV was giving a lot of backstory which was bogging things down.  I thought I was being witty and smart by structuring things this way.  Turns out, not so much.

So where do things stand now?  After today, I should be a little over 1/3 of the way finished.  That will mean I've gone through the first 1/3 of the manuscript twice.  I go through the first time and add/delete scenes (or whole chapters--ouch!) and then I print everything out and comb through it a second time to tighten up the language and pacing, heighten the emotions, and  make sure the characters are well-developed. 

I know some people go straight through from start to finish, but that's never worked for me.  For me, it's like leapfrogging.  Go over a set chunk, leap back and tighten it.  Move forward with the next chunk, leap back and tighten it...repeat until the whole thing is finished. 

Tomorrow, I'll start on the second third, then leap back and tighten it before moving on to the end.  By the time I finish with this stage, I will have gone through the novel twice.  Then I'll put it down for a week or two before going back over it from start to finish.  If everything's okay, I'll send it off to my agent and editor.  Then I'll wait for the next round of edits, which will hopefully be at the line level and just involve fixing things like awkward sentences. 

After that, hopefully we'll have a strangely beautiful story that's ready for Dan to send to publishers! 

So, that's where everything stands.  I'll keep trying to pop in and update everyone, but it will be spotty until the revisions are finished. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I finally did it...

I joined twitter. 

True confession:  I'm horribly shy.  Jumping into a conversation terrifies me.  I'm the person sitting in the corner of the room reading a book while everyone around me laughs and talks. 

You know what?  I'm okay with that.  Books are my passion and other than spending time with my family, I can't think of anything better than reading a good book. 

For a long time I put off joining twitter because honestly the thought of all that talking...well, it was scary! 

But today I did it.  I joined twitter.  I even sent a few tweats and followed some people.  And you know, it wasn't that bad.  (I suspect you all know that already!) 

So, if you'd like to follow me on twitter, click the link on the right.  And you'll make my day! 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Take a chance

Whew, it's been to long since I've posted.  Last Friday I had a great phone conversation with my editor and since then, I've been ripping apart the manuscript and stitching it back together like Frankensteins' monster--although hopefully with less tragic results.  After I'm finished with this set of edits, I'll do a lengthy post about the process, what I've learned, etc. 

But I had to pop in and share this picture.  Today I was talking with someone who was afraid to send their work out.  I completely understand this.  It is scary to send your work out.  What if no one likes it?  What if it gets rejected?  What if you embarass yourself?   

All of these are very real fears.  Your work might get rejected.  Some people might not like your story. 

But if you don't take the chance, if you don't put yourself out there, you'll ever know what you're capable of.  So dream big and take chances.  Risk embarassment and one day great things will happen!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Where does inspriation come from?

As a writer, I'm always asked where I get my ideas.  The truth is, everywhere.  Everything I see, everything I feel is an inspiration.  I like to think there's a small but cluttered room in the back of my brain somewhere that stores all of these images.  When I sit down to write, I imagine walking into that room and looking through the shelves where I've stored beautiful images like the one above.  Isn't it gorgeous?  Wouldn't you love to sit at a table like this, birdcages hanging from the limbs of an old oak tree, and eat lunch on a nothing special day? 

This is how I write.  It's very organic.  Not linear at all.  I'm a little bit like the hoarders you see on TV, except instead of hoarding empty toilet paper rolls, I'm storing up beautiful and slightly whimsical pictures like this:

After I have my image, I normally smash it against an emotion that seems totally out of line with the picture.  For example, the I love the pink tree above and the quiet little bench below it.  The first feeling I get when I look at the picture is one of peace and contentment.  Of something magical.  But what if I push it further?  What if instead of peace, the feeling is anxiety?  What if the tree is changing colors because the person sitting on the bench (I know, no one's on the bench right now.  In my head I've placed them there) is nervous about something and somehow projects that anxiety into their environment, causing the leaves of the tree to turn pink? 

A little strange maybe?  Sure.  But in my world, strange is a good thing. 

Love to you all, now it's time for me to get back to work!  I'm well into my revisions and I need to keep going. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Write on!

Just a quick note to let everyone know I won't be blogging as regularly for the next several weeks.  I just got my editing letter yesterday (YAY!) so I'll be buried in revisions.  I plan on popping in to update you all on my progress, right now I'm thinking maybe on Tuesdays?  Not sure yet.  But I will keep everyone posted. 

Just know I'm thinking of all of you, my wonderful cyber-friends.  Hugs to you all and Happy Writing!  I'll see you soon!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Poetry Friday -- Billy Collins

This Friday I give you Forgetfulness by Billy Collins.  The older I get, the more I love this poem.  Enjoy!