Tag Archives: writing

99% say no?

I’ve sent out draft 2 of my manuscript to my readers (thank you readers!), leaving me with some time on my hands. Rather, leaving me with some time to do publishing research. What’s next?

  • review edits and suggestions from readers–implement
  • create a list of agents to query
  • write a query letter (which needs a synopsis and title)
  • brainstorm a title (no small feat!)
  • write a synopsis

I’m excited to be at this next stage of the novel-writing process. I’m trying not to be daunted by statistics I find on agents’ websites: “I reject 99% of all query letters that cross my desk.”  I keep telling myself that I can’t get rejected (or accepted!) until I send in some queries.

Long term:

  • query agents
  • wait for responses (anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months)
  • hyper-edit the first three chapters (if an agent likes my query, they’ll ask for the first three chapters)
  • research self-publishing
  • self-publish?

It’s a process. There’s a learning curve. But I’m taking it one step at a time and trying not to think about that 99% statistic.

Advertisements

and then it ended.

I wrote the ending to my novel. For the second time. And for the second time, it was anti-climactic. I typed in the last words, re-read the last paragraph I wrote, hit command-S, sighed, and closed my computer. And I went down to the galley and started to make dinner. It wasn’t until half an hour later when Hans came home that I realized I had finished my latest round of edits.

You’d think that when you finish editing a large piece of work that you’d feel satisfied, accomplished, proud. Nope. Not me. Not with this manuscript. I think because I know that it’s not really finished. I’ll read it through from start to finish again, find more changes to make, make the changes, pass it over to a reader, the reader will propose more changes. And I’ll make those changes. Again.

When do you know when your manuscript is finished? Will I see fireworks? Will a the lights flash? Will the 1812 Overture suddenly start playing? And if none of those things happen, when do I say: “it’s finished.”?

(As I write this, I know it’s not finished. I just remembered a small plot detail I need to add to chapter 3. Will that ever end? Or will I wake up in the middle of the night five years from now with the brilliant idea that I need to add a dagger to the green room with Colonel Mustard?)

that wasn’t hard

That wasn’t nearly as hard as I had anticipated (which is good because I can’t count how many inner-monologue paragraphs filled with questions I have in the manuscript that need to be edited).

From this:

When the light was nearly gone from the sky, Sam stood up, stretched, and went into her apartment to start unpacking and getting settled into her new home. How long would it take for Green Island to feel like home? Had she made the right decision? The island was so small—1,000 people? That’s about how many people lived in her apartment building and the one next door to hers in New York. And what was she going to do with her time? Go to beach every day? Get a job at Bananas like Alley suggested? What did everyone else do on the island? Sam pushed the anxiety to the back of her mind and hoisted her suitcase on her bed. It was better to focus her thoughts and energy on unpacking clothes than on her sudden life change.

To this:

When the light was nearly gone from the sky, Sam stood up, stretched, and went into her apartment. She wanted to unpack and get settled into her new home. She caught herself—she was getting settled into her new house, not her new home. This small apartment on a remote Caribbean island of merely 1,000 people—about the same number of people who lived in her apartment building in New York City—was not home yet. It was simply a roof over her head. It was, of course, a roof with a long porch, comfortable chairs, hibiscus blooming outside, palm trees down the hillside, and an expansive view of the town and harbor. She loved the apartment, but had no idea what she was going to do with her time. She could go to the beach every day, but that would get boring quickly. Alley’s idea of working at the bar intrigued her—at the very least it would be a great place to meet new people—but she’d never worked in a bar before. Sam pushed her anxieties to the back of her mind and hoisted her suitcase on the bed. It was better to focus her thoughts and energy on unpacking  her clothes than on her sudden life change.

writing challenge of the night

How do I convert this:

When the light was nearly gone from the sky, Sam stood up, stretched, and went into her apartment to start unpacking and getting settled into her new home. How long would it take for Green Island to feel like home? Had she made the right decision? The island was so small—1,000 people? That’s about how many people lived in her apartment building and the one next door to hers in New York. And what was she going to do with her time? Go to beach every day? Get a job at Bananas like Alley suggested? What did everyone else do on the island? Sam pushed the anxiety to the back of her mind and hoisted her suitcase on her bed. It was better to focus her thoughts and energy on unpacking clothes than on her sudden life change.

from lots of rhetorical questions the main character is asking herself…

to a block of text that conveys her anxious state of mind without leading questions?

Stay tuned . . .

beware of the glare

Philadelphia got hit with a big snowstorm last night. The airport is reporting about 16″. I trudged up and down the dock around midnight and at that time it only about 8″ had fallen. I estimate around 3″ fell after midnight, so, in my very scientific opinion, I think we have around one foot at the marina. It’s heavy, wet snow. Perfect for snowmen. Not so perfect for boat biminis. Hans did his best to bang the snow off the bimini a couple times before we went to bed last night and luckily there is no damage. The whole marina is now iced in, but the sky is blue and the temperature is well above freezing so hopefully there’ll be no ice skating here.

My question of the day: how do I go from this….

the bright winter view from Stinkpot this morning

to this?:

Vieques, Spanish Virgin Islands

And no, I don’t plan on buying a plane ticket. My novel is set on a Caribbean island, so on this snowy, winter wonderland-esque day in Philadelphia, I need to transport my imagination to a tropical beach in the Caribbean and write about heat, humidity, afternoon thunderstorms, surfing, snorkeling, fishing, and beach bars.

1 + 1 = . . . 1?

My novel has two main characters that serve two distinct and necessary purposes in the plot. One is a platonic friend to my main character; the other is a romantic interest. But after reading the bulk of the manuscript, my husband suggested I merge the two characters. I can’t do that! They are two different people! Obviously my character development is lacking.  Good. I have an easily identifiable problem. But how do I tackle it? It seems daunting, to say the least.

During my sleepless night (ice knocking on the hull, baby knocking on my stomach), I visualized my two characters.  I visualized two actors playing the roles of the characters in a movie. I watched them come to life.  Of course I remember doing this, but since I was half asleep (and grumpy from lack of sleep), I don’t really remember what I imagined. But, daydreaming! What a great tool.  I’m hoping I can daydream my way from 1 + 1 = 1 to 1 + 1 = 2.

2 names. 2 characters. 2 roles.

documenting my life

My first journal was a confirmation present from my parents when I was 13. It was white with light pink flowers and the edges were gilded in gold. It had a small gold lock. My journal-writing days began. That journal lasted for years. By the time I went to college, 5 years after starting the journal, it still contained blank pages–but what 18 year old is going to bring such a girly journal to her freshman year? Certainly not me.

In high school I started a “holiday journal” with the goal of writing an entry on every holiday and birthday. That lasted about two years and five entries.

College? I don’t remember writing in a journal. If I did, I can’t wait to find it!

2002: Hans and I set out in our Toyota Corolla for a 2-month cross-country road trip from Massachusetts to Montana. I learned that it is much easier to document your travels than it is to document daily life. We kept a journal, which we wrote in, together, every night. We used a camcorder (yes, a real camcorder with a VHS tape). We took still photographs with Hans’s dad’s old Canon SLR. We aren’t going to forget that trip!

2005: We are given a travel journal as a wedding gift–we wrote an entry every day of our honeymoon.

2006: Hans and I set sail in s/v Whisper for the Caribbean. 4 years later and what a technology boost. We took photographs with our tiny Canon PowerShot SD 1000 (which I still use). And we wrote in our blog, almost weekly. I tried to write regularly in my black Moleskin journal.

2009: I started a new holiday journal: Christmas – gifts received, gifts given, cards received, cards sent, highlights at the end of the year, and New Year’s resolutions.

2009 to present: Philadelphia. I am still filling in the blank pages in the Moleskin I started in October 2006.

2010: I start this blog.

I am a writer. Ask any writer for their advice on how to become a better writer and their answer is: write. Read. And write. Write daily. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write daily. I can write in this blog, in my writer’s journal, in my personal diary, in my novel. Anywhere. But I have to write. (Oh, and emails and facebook updates don’t count!)

If my only outlet for writing is a journal, my history shows that I will fail miserably. I have consistently owned a journal since I was a young teenager, but I have a hard time writing frequent entries. Since I’m not a very private person, the blog format is the perfect place for me to work toward writing every day. I know people are reading it (okay, maybe only 10 or so, but still!), so I feel a responsibility to keep it updated.

2011: I am working on starting a Baby on a Boat blog. I want to document my baby’s life beyond quick digital snapshots and I want to document my experience as a new mom. A blog seems like the perfect place. I could start a new cloth and paper diary, but, hey, look at my track record. I’d skip months of my child’s development. The best solution for me is to air all of the dirty diapers on the internet.

Writing. Every day. It can be a challenge, but, if I gather all my media, I’m up for it. Who knows, maybe this year I’ll fill in the last blank page in that 2006 journal!