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Skipping to the End

I am officially halfway through my rewrite! It feels amazing. So, guess what I’m going to do? I’m skipping to the end. Why, you ask? Because, after many rewrites of many first drafts, I’ve learned (finally) that writing the middle is almost impossible if you don’t know how the story is going to end. Some people say you should even write the end first.
I tried that and it didn’t really work for me. It didn’t work because the beginning is my favorite part to write. It’s the dating stage of a relationship where you get to know all of the little quirks that make your characters tick. It’s the foundation of the story. It’s world building. And it’s no fun if I know how it’s all going to play out. In the beginning, I just write. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not. I’m a pantster (no plan, no outline) at this stage. At about thirty pages, maybe more sometimes, I start to work out an outline and some character bios. The outline is loose, but I like to have a general idea about where I’m going.
And by the middle, I need to know EXACTLY where I’m going. That’s why I am starting to write the ending now. Then, if I need to throw in some earlier clues or a stronger lead-up, I can do this without having to rewrite the whole darn thing.

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Writing Life…Starting at the Beginning with an Authors Platform

Today, I began the journey of building my “Authors” platform. I knew this was an important step, but I’ve been dragging my feet a bit because whenever I get minutes on the computer, I usually try to write. If I’m blogging or posting pictures or telling everyone about my day, then I’m not writing. And those minutes are precious.

Smeagol

I’ve already got a bit of a head start–I started this blog a bit ago. And some of the other pieces are in place, though not used very well. My first step was to change my screen name to these different sites to be closer to my actual name (without a lot of numbers or nicknames in them). I had no idea how much this work this was going to be or how many sites I should be a part of.

The first was Facebook. That one was kind of a no brainer, but I truly don’t like Facebook that much anymore. I got so tired of reading about the trivial nuances of my friend’s lives that I gave up on it. And now, it looks more like an informative magazine. Either way, I started a professional Facebook page and you can find it here if you’d like.

I already have a Twitter. So, that’s done.

I read somewhere (actually lots of places) that I need a Google + account. I haven’t done that yet, but it’s on the list.

I already have a Pinterest account. This one is my favorite. I love Pinterest! Maybe it’s all of the pretty pictures.

Next, was Tumblr and Instagram.

This was starting to feel like a lot of work. The last thing on my list was to get a website using my first and last name. I went on to GoDaddy.com and signed up.

Okay, step 1: Building an Author’s Platform is started. It’s a work in progress, but at least I started it!

Inspired

I’ve gotten lazy. Not the type of lazy that warrants sitting on the couch all day though. I’ve been creatively lazy. I didn’t even realize it happening at first. My mornings always felt rushed and afternoons were spent at work. I spent evenings making dinner and cataloging a crazy amount of time watching Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, and Peaky Blinders. I gazed at Pinterest boards and read blogs. I designed pretty To-Do lists and calendars. On the weekends, I gardened and cleaned.

This last week, I sort of snapped. I started to feel myself becoming the person I didn’t like. I was grouchy and moody. I was mean. I didn’t know what to do. I felt the pent up energy bursting to be free and had no outlet for it. I tried running and went to a yoga class everyday this week to find some sort of balance. It helped. Like a band-aid on a gushing wound, it helped a little.

Then, a writing buddy asked if I could beta read for her. I figured since I wasn’t doing much writing of my own, I might as well carve a space of time to help her out. At first, it felt like a chore. But, the more I edited the hell out of her manuscript, the better I started to feel. It may not have been my work, but it was the outlet I needed. I needed to see the words, to shape them into something, to help them breathe life into a character. It was awesome!

I picked up Only the Dead (my current manuscript) and started to read, and soon I’ll start to write again.

The burden of being a creative person is the necessity to keep doing it. So keep doing it people and never stop.

The Contest Junkie

Like I said before: it’s writing contest time!

First, there is Baker’s Dozen over at Miss Snarks’s First Victim which is too late to enter, but the real fun is just about to get started. Authoress has meticulously gone through all the entries and chosen 60 to go onto the Agent Round. They are already posted, so if you feel like having a read and maybe offering some helpful feedback to all of the writers, you should head over. Go Misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com

Second, there is Pitch Wars at Brenda Drake’s blog which begins on Monday, December 2. What do you do to enter? Well, you need to go to the link and check out all of the mentors. Then, you have to choose 4 of them to pitch your manuscript. You write a personalized query letter to each of the 4 and attach your first 5 pages. If one of them chooses to work with you, they will go through your entire manuscript and polish it up for the Agent round. The greatest part about this one is that almost all of them will offer you some feedback on the query and the 5 pages you send to them. It’s almost a win-win.

Third, there is a First 5 pages Workshop over at Adventures in YA Publishing. The workshop sounds pretty intense so be prepared to work your butt off.

The Power of Voice

Voice is one of those things that took me forever to understand. I would listen to other writers talk about it, agents insist upon it, and often deny because a lack of it. I’d look at my own writing, reading it aloud and trying to inflect my voice into the characters. I felt like my Voice was there. Yet, sometimes I would get crits on “losing my voice” in areas. I’d scratch my head and still have no clue as to what they were talking about. I’d read and read. Still nothing. Then…BAM! Finally, it became clear. There are books, several actually, but this one for me…

Image

You don’t have to be a fan of the book to appreciate the quality of voice evident in the writing. I easily read 75-100 books a year and I couldn’t understand the concept until now. There are others, obviously. But, within the first paragraph I felt I had a solid sense of character. Believe me, that’s pretty tough to do.

I thought voice had something to do with prose. Personally I’m not a huge fan of “purple” prose, or super flowery writing. I like writing that is direct and to the point and lets me do some of the imagining.

Now, when I read I can sense the Voice so much clearer than I had before. I don’t necessarily need to like the Voice every time, but at least I can recognize it and I can appreciate my own Voice too.

Revise Day 1…The Plan

I’ve spent the last few weeks tweaking my query. Alas, I think I have it! But, in working on said query I now know that I have holes in my plot–as in, I completely forgot about it and got carried into the “B story.”

So, today will be my first day of Revising. I thought I’d let you all know the process I go through in doing this.

1. The first thing I did was import my file back into Scrivener. It’s been in Word the last couple of months to do basic edits. Scrivener is easier for me when I want to make global changes to a manuscript.

2. The next thing I did is separate the manuscript into sections according to my Save the Cat beat sheet.

3. This week I will focus solely on Section 1–roughly 7 chapters. During a quick read, I decided my MC needed a bit of a hobby. I’ve already made another one of my characters have a photography hobby, but since it served no real purpose, I am switching that hobby over to the MC where it will serve a better purpose. Also, my MC’s best friend needs to have more page time to really emphasize the connection between them–I am adding a scene later that will be stronger if this connection is made more clear.

2013…100 Book Challenge

The New Year always brings a fresh wave of resolutions and promises. It thought this year I would play upon something I already love to do and challenge myself to do even more. My first and most obvious challenge (as per the title of this thread) is to read 100 books throughout the course of the year. By the nature of my schedule most of this will probably be done during the summer months when I’m not working. I started and finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn already. I’ll get to that review next. My second resolution (of which I have a pretty good start) is to really fine tune my manuscript for submission. I tested the waters late last year and didn’t have too much success. It’s not surprising–not now anyway. My query was a mess, my first few pages still need polishing, and I’ve never had anyone really read it. Those are so huge issues. If any of you writers have never heard of Absolute Write, it is like a crash course in writing. There is an endless supply of information and support and criticism. I’ve posted, reposted, and reposted my query. I think it’s finally ready. <happy dance> Next, is my first ten pages. They need to shine like nothing else. That’s step two. Also, through perfecting my query, I found some glaring issues in my MS. It’s funny how you don’t see these things sometimes…

Query Letters…oh my!

Have I mentioned how much I don’t like writing query letters. I really don’t. I have done my homework–read books, participated in contests, I have a critique partner, posted in forums…seriously, I’ve done it. So, what’s my problem. There are three things that every query letter should have:

1. Who is the protagonist and what do they want?

2. What does the protagonist have to do to get it?

3. What happens if they don’t?

I can see these things in other queries–no problem. But when I write my own, I tend to be very vague. I don’t mean to be, but there is a fine balance between enough information and too much information.

I’ve recently started reading this book called “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder. If you are a writer (of any type of story–novel, screenplays, whatever) then you NEED this book. I think I read the whole thing in one sitting. Now I’m going back to put it into practice. One thing he states right up front though is that I should have written the logline/query BEFORE ever attempting to write the book. Until he said it and explained the reasons, I never would have thought to do this.

So, why do it this way? Because we as writers, get very attached to the scenes we write in our books/screenplays. If we attempt to do this before a single scene is written, we stand to look at the whole thing as an idea–that idea is our logline! If there are holes and problems in the logline, then there will be holes in the novel. How much easier is it to fix two sentences over hundreds of pages?

 

Anyway, I am posting my newest query attempt. Feel free to critique.

When seventeen-year-old Tessa Chase agrees to go to the Peddler’s Fair in her small town, she hardly expects to stumble across a dead girl—or bump into the Guardian angel at her feet. Then she rests her hand on the angel’s arm and her ability to feel the emotion of others is kicked into overdrive. It’s hard to scream for help when she doesn’t even know how it happened or when the boy is invisible to everyone else.

This is Tessa’s first meeting with the Guardians, hunters dedicated to finding fallen angels and sending their souls to heaven. It’s also her first encounter with John, an angel whose slightest touch feels both dangerous and exciting—and makes her so dizzy she can’t see straight. In less than a day, Tessa is pulled towards John with a vengeance when he saves her from being crushed by a bookshelf and later when a fallen angel attacks her. But why would the Fallen be interested in a girl like Tessa? And how is it possible for Tessa to see them? The Guardians would like to know…

Tessa must uncover the secrets to her ability and the reasons she can see what she shouldn’t before she is chosen as the next victim.  But the clock is ticking and by the next new moon another girl will die.

Writing a Log line…

As I get more and more into the trenches of querying, I’ve realized that I may have gotten only slightly ahead of myself. My novel is finished, polished, and ready. I wrote my query, researched agents, and have begun the query process. There are contests that I am looking to entering in the very near future, namely the Bakers Dozen Agent Auction, hosted by misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com. I hate to admit to this, but I’ve waited till the absolute last minute to prepare *gasp* my log line. Between NaNoWriMo and my last blog challenge (memoir and backstory) I have been completely and totally overwhelmed. I’ve been researching what a log line should include and its pretty straightforward.

Main character, goal, and conflict. How did I do?

Any advice on it would be appreciated.

When several girls are murdered in a quiet town, the arrival of a mysterious boy stirs the empathic ability of seventeen-year-old Tessa Chase to an unbearable level. If she can learn to stop fainting whenever things become overwhelming and harness her ability, she may be able to help him end a years long killing spree and finally find love.

October Memoir and Backstory blog challenge

Year 12:

“We don’t have to do this. ”

“Yes we do.” Dan’s hair was slicked back and he was wearing a crisp collared shirt. Carole’s death had done something to him. It brought him back to a son that no longer wanted him.

“Don’t you think I’m getting a little old?” John twisted in his chair. Every one of his limbs twitched uncomfortably. He had been inside all day. What he really needed was a run, not a slow leisurely walk with the pretense of getting free candy.

“You’re short. No one’s going to say anything.”

John wasn’t worried about what other people would say. He didn’t care about any of them anyway. But his mind felt too tight, like a rubberband stretched beyond its capacity.

“Go change.”

“I don’t want to wear that costume.”

“Then you should have picked one out when we were at the store. You get what you get now.”

John pulled the costume over his clothes. “Seriously? A jail bird.”

“Well,” his dad shrugged. “You know what they say.”

John felt the heat rising in his cheekbones. He had gotten in more fights that he could count. In the beginning, everyone said it was a product of what he was going through. They said he’d get over it. They never said when it would happen.