You did what?!

Whoa. It’s been a while since I posted. My only excuse is that I’ve been down a writer’s rabbit hole, and am only now popping up to see the light!
Here’s a brief rundown of the crazy events of the past few weeks. My last post talked about the pitch contest I entered, and why I’m a fan of such events. Well, that contest led to an agent request, which was exciting! Then I decided to play along with a twitter pitch contest running a few days later, put on by the same creative minds behind the Pitch Madness contest. THAT led to a small press publisher partial request!

And here’s where things went crazy.

 

That small press pub partial request (query and the first 25 pages of the manuscript) turned into a full request (!) … and a few days later, an offer of publication.

This. Was. Exciting. Like, really (REALLY) exciting. I was in Florida on vacay with the family, trying to sort out what I wanted to do. If I took the offer it meant my book could be in the hands of readers (or rather, on the screen of their e-readers, as it was a digital only press) by the end of 2013. Now small press publishing hadn’t been something I’d considered before. I have been set on the idea of getting an agent first. I really believe in the partnership of agent-author, and that felt like the right path for me.

But to be published by year end? Tempting …

However, there were some challenges with the offer, including editorial changes I wasn’t sure about. Contracts can be tricky and sticky, and I didn’t love the idea of slugging through that process on my own.

So I did what some lovely writer friends advised and sent notification of the offer to the agents I had queried. There weren’t that many of them, because I had only sent out a handful of queries before this all happened, but I ended up with eight agents reading my full manuscript by the end of the week.

To make a long story short (although I suspect it’s too late now, because this story is already long…), by the deadline I had one agent who offered representation and the publication offer on the table. I very carefully considered both offers, and then turned them down.

Many may think this was a crazy decision. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted, after all? Well, yes, but it wasn’t that simple. Through the passing agents’ feedback I got a good handle on what’s really working in my story — plenty of compliments on my writing and the ‘freshness’ of my premise and concept. However, I also sorted out what wasn’t working … and I wanted a chance to fix that on my own first. In truth, while both were GOOD offers, neither was the right fit for me … or my book — for reasons that aren’t important to mention here. But in my gut I knew I had to take a step back and start anew. So that’s what I did.

I have no regrets about my decision, even when I’m struggling through my revisions and feeling like I may never get it all done. Writing is like anything else — if your heart, head, and gut are not aligned, you need to reevaluate what you’re doing. That has never let me down before, and I’m confident it won’t this time either.

Off I go back down my rabbit hole again … see you when I see you …

 

 

Revisions — Part 2

So about a month ago I wrote about starting revisions, and how overwhelming it was. My manuscript at the time was 90,000 words, and it felt like a nearly impossible task to weed through all those words and decide which ones stayed, and which ones met their demise. (Curious about my book, The Doctor’s Daughter? Have a look!)

Well, I’m happy to say the book currently sits around 82,000, and I’m *nearly* done killing all darlings who got in my way. There was a lot of red pen used. I had great beta reader and critique partner feedback, which helped me figure out what needed to come out, or in some cases, what needed to be added in. A lot of the time while revising I felt like this (I got this…I got this…Noooo! Plot points don’t line up…*insert expletive*:

Michael Crichton has a great quote, about how books aren’t written — they’re re-written. I believe it. It took me four months to write my 90,000 words, and it will have taken me nearly as long to revise it by the time I’m done. But once I do, hopefully I have something that can’t be put down:

However, I should stop procrastinating and get back to it. But I’ll leave you with a few tips that have helped me through my revisions:

  1. Eliminate intensifiers, like very, really, totally, completely, and remove every ‘suddenly’ from your book.
  2. Keep dialogue tags simple. This was probably one of the best pieces of advice I took from Stephen King’s On Writing (my fave writing book). Skip tags like ‘he jeered’, ‘she tittered’, and stick with he said, she said. Also adverbs are NOT your friend, a la SK.
  3. There are plenty of nonessential words, but probably the worst one (and easiest to remove) is ‘that’ — at least 90% of these can go. Trust me on this one.
  4. “I saw Sarah go in the kitchen to turn the kettle on…” This is classic tell vs. show. Change to “Sarah turned on the kettle.”
  5. Smiling, nodding, laughing, sighing. *Sigh* This is a tough one to fix, for me. It’s not always easy to signify what a character is doing/how they’re feeling. These are okay…just in small doses. Always ask, “Do I really need this here?” and if not, slash away!

Why I love other writers, and Twitter.

I follow a lot of other writers and aspiring novelists on Twitter. And almost as many agents and publishers. Which means every day I’m seeing plenty of good news in my stream … writers getting agents and book deals, agents signing authors and sharing ‘happy publication day’ tweets, and a whole lot of publishing love.

And every.single.time I see one of these good news tweets I give a ‘congratulations’ shout out. Even if I’m having a bad writing day. ESPECIALLY if I’m having a bad day. Because these writers? They’ve worked DAMN hard to arrive at this good news place — whether it’s getting an agent or a book deal, finishing a new book, receiving a great review, winning an award, learning of a publication date … regardless, they deserve to be recognized for not.ever.giving.up. Plus, every time a writer gets her publishing wings I’m reminded what is possible. And I decide I’m never.giving.up.

I’ve heard rumblings of writers not feeling the love for other writers (market is tough and competitive, blah blah blah). That we’re sort of jealous and territorial about success, kind of like this:

But when I see a tweet about a writer getting ‘the call’, or read someone’s good news on one of the message boards I visit? I don’t feel all Black Swan-like. Nope. You’re more likely to find me doing this:

In my experience, writers love helping other writers, especially via Twitter. Stuck on a line in your query? It won’t take long to get some tips, or perhaps even an offer of a critique. Frustrated by your revisions? Add #AmRevising to your tweet and you’ll find out you’re not alone. Up at 5 a.m. writing, wondering if you’re crazy to be doing so when everyone else is sleeping? Check out the hashtag #5amWritersClub — used every morning by a bunch of super supportive, crack-of-dawn writers who will keep you company. I have been endlessly amazed at the kindness of the writers I follow on Twitter, and how willing they are to help one another out.

So when it’s my turn to announce the good news? Here’s what I imagine I’ll be doing:


And the best part? I know there will be a whole crew of other writers celebrating right a long with me … Kermit flail and all.