Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rules = GUIDELINES!

When I first started writing I was so green that besides grammar rules, I knew NOTHING of writing rules, which means when I started learning about the craft of writing and just how many rules were actually involved in writing a novel (I was in the process of writing Prayers to Russell), I was completely overwhelmed and even put my writing on hold for a while because I felt they constricted my "voice." I mean, who would have ever thought that rules like "no adverbs" existed? And I can't say "she murmured?" I have to always she "she said?" And what's this "show vs. tell?" There are many more where these come from.

I read so many posts on forums and agents' blogs (and even learned in a webinar) how big of a deal these rules are, and got the impression that, basically, anyone who thought they were good enough to "break" the rules, was a rookie who didn't know her/his stuff. That totally turned me off from the publishing industry for a long time because I felt like these agents and editors were trying to "clip my wings." If all writers were to follow these specific rules to the T, wouldn't everyone sound the same? And besides, haven't I read numerous books by best-selling authors where these very rules they say are death to your MS were not followed, or bypassed?

So what's the deal??

I was extremely frustrated to say the least. But when some of that frustration wore off and I couldn't stay away from what I loved anymore, I continued to write, revised and edited based on these rules, and began to understand them more. I actually understood why most, if not all, of them were set. And when I became used to them, I began to write with them naturally and realized just how much they actually helped my writing, rather than hurt or hindered it.

However, I also decided that I knew enough about them to be able to break them every once in a while, when it was in my story's best interest. So in knowing the rules, and why they are put in place, I was able to work around them when I felt my story would be better by veering away from that rule.

BUT there was one rule that still itched in my brain...and this was the most VITAL of writing rules, according to all the "experts." And that is the rule of a constant POV. For the last year that specific rule has eaten at me to the point where I even wanted to give up writing completely, because after trying to rewrite my story in a single POV, I realized just how much it stifled my story. I realized that breaking that rule and instead writing in the all-dreaded omniscient POV made my story more rounded and was simply better. No matter how many people told me it was a "no no," I wasn't going to veer away from that. Even if it meant never getting published.

I even learned from one unnamed professional in the business that told me (without reading my work or knowing anything about me) that it was impossible for me, a new writer, to do it effectively, so I should avoid it completely. And she made me feel stupid for even considering it. It was utterly disheartening to me because I felt confident enough that I did do it effectively (head-hopping). Needless to say, even though it offended me and was discouraging, it made me more determined to do it the way I wanted and to make it sound right.

The whole reason they have the POV rule is because if not done correctly, it can be extremely confusing to readers and they can lose involvement in the characters. But I feel like (and maybe I'm totally wrong) I have done this "head-hopping" in a way that isn't confusing, but actually helpful to the story and insight of the characters. I think if done right, writing in omniscient POV can be a good tool. Yet editors are against it.

So anyway, as I've been continuing to work on my MS, still hopeful, in the back of my mind I can't remove the gnawing fact that because I have broken this rule, I will have NO chance at getting published. And it's honestly lessened my drive a little the past few months.

BUT (now here's the good "but")...today when reading one of my esteemed agent's blog, Rachelle Gardner, she had an excellent post about these rules and shed a light on it from the professional side of the industry that I'd never seen before. And her post wasn't all that was helpful. All 41 comments from the readers were helpful as well.

Basically, it emphasized that the rules are more of guidelines. Know them, and then you can learn how to use them...or not use them at all. Write your story without the rules in mind, but use the rules in your revising process to point out where your story needs work or can be better. Ask yourself "Does following this rule make my writing/story better?" Simple as that. If it doesn't, then DON'T USE IT. A concept I'd never heard before! Well...except in my head.

It just helped IMMENSELY to hear from her and other writers that it's okay to break some of the rules. Most of the rules are put in place anyway because of how many unskilled people abuse them. So knowledge is power. I read some comments from writers who had the SAME PROBLEM AS ME! One said she was a wicked head-hopper, but learned how to do it effectively. I can't even express how much this lightened my shoulders and removed the blackness in the back of my mind concerning this subject. I just had to post about it because I feel it's a breakthrough for me and I realized how many other writers were in the same boat as me...feeling like they all had to conform to the same voice and feel, rather than being artists and allowing their creativity to flow.

One point was made from a commenter that she realized breaking the POV rule (effectively) was, in a sense, her voice. And I loved that. Because sometimes I wonder what my voice is. And I realize that writing in omniscient POV is a part of it for me. All three novels I've written have been in that POV. If any of my readers feel that the POV switching in my stories is confusing, I hope you will please tell me so I know what I need to work on.

Anyway, I am grateful for this new way of thinking. Now I can take what I know and write the way I want to write, and not feel hindered by the rules. I can let them liberate me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hiatus


I know it's been a while since I've updated anything on here and it's because I still don't have any updates. With everything going on lately, especially the baby coming, I think I've come to the unsteady conclusion that I will take a break from pursuing a writing career for the time being.


After realizing just how much work and effort it is once you get published (and I'm holding to the positive notion that I will eventually if I keep submitting), it just seems in my family's best interest that I should wait so that I actually have time for them. I don't know how, while still having kids and nursing, that I will be able to hit up all the events I'd have to be present for if I was published, etc., and still be the mom/wife I need to be. If and when I get published, I want to be able to actually devote time and attention to it.


So though I will not stop writing and writing some more (because let's face it--I can't stop), until I know I am past the child birthing and nursing stages in my life, I probably won't take it any further than that.


I say probably because my mind could change anytime...


My most recent manuscript isn't anywhere near the place I want it to be at anyway. I still feel so uncertain about so many things in it, and a really helpful review from my best friend put some of those points into focus for me. So that's my next step: working carefully through the story and determining where certain things went wrong. And since I'm in no hurry, maybe I'll get it together.


One comment I got was that some scenes made my reader uncomfortable (and I really appreciated her honesty). So I have to determine if I really went too far or if this reader is just overly sensitive (which might be the case). It's hard to tell, but I guess I have to just trust my gut and write what I want to write. Another thing I realize is that sometimes the reader being uncomfortable (with an intense or jarring scene) is a good sign. So I need to figure that out. It'd help if I had more outside readers to criticize.


As far as Prayers to Russell (formerly November Rain), I am still 100% confident in that one and love it with all my heart. I don't feel anything needs to be changed, like I do with my most recent (though my mind is always open to criticism--even with one like this). In a perfect world this is the one I would get published first, but as I mentioned in my last post, I just don't think I'd have any success unless I was already established. Which is why when I am ready, my most recent (still unnamed) is the best one to push. That's why I want it so perfected.


I also have a million other storylines (okay, so maybe more like 8) running through my brain that I'd love to write out into novels some day, so I know on my little submitting "hiatus" I will have plenty to keep me busy in my "me time."

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Latest and Not So Greatest

It's been a while, but there's been nothing to report in the world of my writing "career." I wish it was a career. Right now, unfortunately, I'm coming to terms with the harsh reality that it might always just be a hobby. I've really backed off the submitting and agenting process quite a bit the past few months, owed in part to my pregnancy and all that comes along with it. I haven't had much desire or drive to push it further, thanks to utter physical and mental exhaustion.

But even as I have stepped back, I have given more attention to perfecting not just my most recent manuscript, but my last one as well. I like to think the step back has been good, has given me a more crucial eye as I focus on the material itself and not the stress of getting agented. I've read and studied a bit more on the craft of writing (still learning and always will be), which helped me go back with new things to look for and new objectives when revising.

Over the last few months I have revised November Rain at least 2 more times (I stopped keeping track a long time ago) and my most recent one at least 4 more times. I'd like to think they are near perfect, but with all the revisions in the world I will probably never think that. I'm not sure I will ever be 100% confident in my work...even if it's sitting on a shelf in the fiction section at Barnes & Noble (I can only dream).

But after finishing a revision just a few minutes ago, I have a sense of finality that I usually don't feel, a satisfaction that it's at its best, as far as my skill level allows. Either way, I am done revising for a time--I'd like to think a long time. And when I get up the spunk to start agenting again, I will take what I have learned the last few months, brutally revise my query and pitch paragraphs (which were lacking horribly), and go at it again...this time trying not to get too many hopes up while still keeping a positive "Secret-like" attitude.

And I haven't mentioned a title for my most recent novel, but that is only because I am undecided. I have it titled with something temporary until I decide on a name...which could end up being what it is now (Elanor's Guardian), or something completely different (one on my list of many possibilities is The Lifeline). I have more than a few to choose from and I never thought it'd be so difficult to fully embrace just one. I always thought that when I'd think of the right one, it'd stick out to me and feel perfect, but none of them really do.

I need more opinions, if there is anyone out there willing to read it (who isn't already). Anyway, that's all for now!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Plug, plug, plug...

It's been a while since I have posted anything about my writing, mostly because it's been a slow process and my thoughts have been anywhere and everywhere. I'm still in the querying process for November Rain, and fear I always will be. My train of thoughts with this one is: "At what point do I give up and move on?"

*I am also thinking of changing the title. A book title says everything, and lately I feel November Rain might be a little...emo. Anyone have any suggestions??

I don't want to give up because I feel it deserves representation, and mostly, publication. But at what point do I need to think realistically? It may be a great story with a moving theme and great characters, but what I'm finding is it's just not big enough. I have received some very nice rejections from agents (though most have been form rejections) who have stated that they thought on it, it sounded like a good story, but due to the high demand and busy schedules, it wasn't something they wanted to take on. They're looking for something that catches their eye in a way nothing else does. Unfortunately, this is all based off of a query letter and not the manuscript. I feel if they would only read the manuscript they'd feel differently. But I'm sure every aspiring author feels the same way.

I am going to keep going, however. I had a list of about fifteen more agents, the next ones in line. And now that it is edited to its fullest (as much as it can be anyway), I will probably start that sometime next week. I've actually edited it about 4 more times since my last post...when I said I was done editing it. :) And these edits were the biggest, the most drastic.

On to my next project, which is unnamed as of now. I started writing this book about a week ago and I'm about 23,000 words into it. It's different than anything I imagined writing before, or what I have written, so I have a LOT of mixed feelings. At this point, I'm just not sure how it's going to come together. I worry it will just out right suck and that the story won't appeal to anyone (or they will think it's lame). I'm hoping that once it's done and I go through a few edits and it starts coming together, I feel differently about it.

At one point, I will be writing it or reading through what I've written and I will love it and it'll move me, and then the next time I will want to throw my computer through the window because It just seems to suck. But I think part of that depends on my mood and how tired I am. I also know that I need to keep at it because I might have a better view when I'm done.

One reason I struggle is that I love writing about realistic life circumstances, the human emotions and heart thrilling me, but though this one has those aspects, there is a "fantasy" twist to it, bringing it away from a realistic book. The trick with things like that is trying to write the fantasy side in a realistic way so that it FEELS real...and that's where I worry. It's not a fantasy in the sense of fairies or vampires or anything mythical or huge like that--frankly, I lack the imagination. But it's enough away from this reality that it can be considered "fantasy." I think.

I know where it would fit in the bookstore--mainstream fiction--but what genre do I classify it as when it comes time to query agents? I know I still have a long time to go before I have to worry about that, but I can't help but think it. If I query it as fantasy, I'm worried agents might think it a full-out fantasy. Because it's not the average fantasy--and also not the average women's fiction/mainstream fiction--I just don't know how to categorize it.

But I will cross that bridge when I come to it. So as of right now, I am working on pulling the story together, figuring out the little elements that tie the story together and make the plot driven enough, or believable. I'm stumped in a few areas, but I'm hoping that (and I'm going from past experience) as I start writing it and getting to those points, the ideas will flow and come out as I'm writing.

Crossing my fingers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Synopsis: check

Well, I'm at the point now where I have finally written my synopsis to my liking (thanks to a late, unforgiving night last night...toped off with a sick child. Two hours of sleep. It doesn't feel too great). It still isn't in it's perfected, tweeked state, but the flow and the content is finally where it needs to be. I'm still in kind of a dilema because it's pretty long. It's still within average and acceptable length to editors and agents, but it's pushing the limit, and shorter and more concise is always better in these cases. However, with a story like November Rain, that isn't plot-driven but more character-driven with a slowly unfolding plot, it's difficult to write it short and concise, yet still entice someone into believing it's a beautiful story. In staying true to it's theme, I feel as though I included everything that should be included (prose and content alike) to illustrate the proper feel of the story. And that's the best I can do.

Maybe since my next story I write will be more plot-driven, writing a synopsis and blurb will be an easier process. I hope.

I've also gotten to the point where though my blurbs (for the query letters) are satisfying, I'm not nearly 100% happy with them. I don't know if I ever will be. I'm torn. So in that, I have spent time writing a few different ones, exploring different venues--some shorter and some longer. Again, shorter is better, but unfortunately in all the shorter ones, all the emotional elements of the characters and theme seem to disappear. So I guess I have 4 to choose from and will base my decision depending on the agent I am querying. Argh.

It's just overwhelming when I read so many things about how short and concise is key! After all this time, I just don't see how to make mine shorter and more concise than it already is, while still getting the theme of the novel across.

Now, since I have the difficult stuff out of the way, I'm going to shield my eyes from all synopsises and blurbs for a while and do the other research I need to do, read a few books, and then when I look at them later, hopefully my fresh perspective will help.

I have a couple books I want to read, simply because I have them and they've been on my "list" (Safe Harbor by LuAnne Rice and The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks), but then I'll start on my "assigned" reading. hehe

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

As Finished As Finished Can Be


Just finished my revision! Yay! (This picture seemed fitting somehow, seeing how it's titled November Rain). I feel like celebrating somehow. Maybe I'll eat some ice-cream tonight. Wait. I always do that. Maybe I'll wait to do some celebrating once I get everything else done too, like my synopsis and letter (still dreading it). And even more celebrating when an agent actually takes my stuff into consideration (I'm crossing my fingers). And then even more when it sells to an editor (it may be a dream, but it's possible!). And then the ultimate celebration can come when it's actually published. For now, this is just a tiny step in the beginning, leading to every other step that takes me to the top.

That paragraph was incredibly pointless, I know. Anyway, I am so extremely satisfied with the finished project. Overwhelmingly so. I sure hope I'm not just in a dreamlike stage, thinking it's better than it really is, because I can honestly say I am very proud of myself for how it turned out. And anyone that really knows me knows I don't ever say that...about anything. I have fallen in love with this book so much and though it would momentarily break me if it never became available for the public to love as well, I would move on holding it special in my heart and knowing it was EXACTLY the way I wanted it to be, 100% to my satisfaction.

Now, off to make dinner, get ready for young womens tonight (planning a New Beginnings skit--yay!), and then tonight...back to the synopsis!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Length of a Novel, Practically. :)

I'm working on my last revision before my manuscript is ready for any agents who might request it (I can only hope, right?)--meaning, after all the times I've revised it, this has been the most engrossing, the most time consuming, and my eyes have been more "critical" than ever before. Having that attitude, it's amazed me how much I have found that hasn't sounded right (grammatically and otherwise). I've ended up changing much more than I initially thought. My intent going into this revision was to make it as absolutely perfect as possible, to view it as a critical outsider, nitpicky and looking for any reason it might fail.

Something I've learned is to trust your gut. It's taken a while for me to learn that and even to recognize my "gut" when I feel it, but I think I've got it down and know now that when something doesn't sound right, it's probably because it isn't. So I looked back on all my past revisions and recalled the many places in the novel where I stopped and questioned, "Does that sound right?" or "Does that conversation feel forced and unnatural?" or simply the times I cringed, and this time I'm acting on the impulses. I've taken out some, but mostly just changed things.

There were things I kept in the past even though they made me wince, simply because I thought I should keep them for one reason or another, but I have realized I can't hold onto my "Little Darlings," as Pat Walsh put them. If they gottta go, they gotta go, no matter their "value."

Not only have I made millions of grammatical corrections (okay, so maybe I exaggerated a little) and rearranged some syntax and dialogue to help the flow of the prose, but I even found my mind expanding and adding new things! There are a few scenes where I have added something, sometimes an extra page or two, and I feel extremely satisfied.

This new view as I'm editing has really opened my eyes to things, and I can confidently say that when I'm done with this revision, it will be my final--in as perfected a state as it can be without an actual editor.

Of course this doesn't mean I'll be stubborn. If someone who is still reading it comes across an edit or a suggestion that I didn't catch, and it fits, I'm still open to editing it. But what I'm saying is the chance of that happening is, I hope, pretty slim now.

However, I know that will be a different story when (I'm going to take a positive note and say "when" instead of "if") I actually do get an agent and editor. One thing writing has taught me is to have tougher skin and accept criticism openly and humbly. I feel I have a pretty good ability to sift through the feedback and filter what will be good for my project and what won't.

And along with this, I am so annoyed with myself for letting friends and family read it before it was in its "streamlined" version. I know that part of what got it to that point was having my loved ones read it and offer help, and for that I am extremely grateful because I know I can't do it all on my own, but I am a perfectionist and hate knowing there are imperfect copies out there, and worse, that people are reading them.

I would love it if a few certain people (some of which are still in the process of reading it) would read it again, revised, or either stop the one they're on now to start this newer, more perfect version. But this is reality and I know I can't expect that of anyone. I know people have lives and other things they want to do or read rather than my manuscript, especially when they've already read it before. So if any of you (you probably know who you are) want to reread it, please let me know.

To an average reader, I don't know if the changes I've made will even stick out, but for someone like me who pays such attention to the writing skill of a book and the minor details, I think it'll have a better feel and a smoother flow. Plus, the little bits I've added might add to the story and character development.

Anyway, enough on that. After my revision, my next step is delving back into the query and submission scene (gulp), perfecting and rewriting my query and synopsis (since the first were miserable failures), studying and researching more agents, possibly reading some books they've represented, and then submitting, submitting, submitting. I have a certain annoying habit that's always been a part of my personality that makes it feel impossible to wait things out. I am so impatient. I get so anxious and excited about something and jump the gun...way too often. I did that with the first five agents I submitted to a month ago and I wish I would have waited.

Another thing I have really come to learn is how to let time pass graciously. I've gotten better at patience, I'd like to think, and I have learned that I need to take the time to research and perfect. Writing and trying to publish a novel is a lot more difficult and time-consuming process than I ever thought, and I've really come to accept that--that success isn't going to come easily and that I definitely have to put in the work if I want anything to come of it.

On to my next project, after I am done with all that other stuff I just mentioned, when my manuscript, blurb, and synopsis are as perfect as can be and I'm simply waiting for agent responses, I will start my next book. I lay awake at night sometimes thinking about it and I'm so excited to start it. I already have the whole outline and characters written up, but I haven't started it yet for a few different reasons.

I don't want to take on too much at once and feel that even though I want to do it all because I'm so excited, I need to take things one at a time and focus on the task on hand before I go off the path. When the time comes to start, I'll know. My stomach ties in knots when I think of writing it--out of excitement and nervousness. It's going to be a little different than the other things I've written, with even a twist of fantasy in it, and that scares me. I don't know if I can write that kind of stuff well, but that's why I want to try.

But all that aside, the main reason I don't want to take on too much right now is I'm learning how to balance my time and focus better. My wonderful children need a mom and that's what I am and what will always come first. When I was writing November Rain, I'd get so engrossed in the story and on a high from writing it (literally, I think), that I would get in these modes and let everything else fall by the wayside. Housework, teaching the kids, playing with them. I feel so ashamed admitting that, but I REFUSE to let that happen again.

I have been trying to gather myself and get back on track before I get engrossed in another story so that I can be strong enough to withstand that temptation when it arises (part of getting back on track includes putting more effort and prayer into my church calling). The problem I face is that I get this steady stream of ideas that don't stop (even when I'm trying to sleep, unfortunately), and the only way I can ease them is to write them out. I'm still working on balancing that out and figuring out how I can still be Jennie--the wife and mother--without losing all my creative focus. Hmm. If anyone has any ideas, I'm desperate.

I think what it's come down to is accepting the fact that if I want to get any creative writing done, it has to be at night when my wonderful family is in bed. That way, the house is quiet and the ideas are allowed to flow. It's just that whole thing of deciding what's more important--sleep or writing.

Most of the time, I choose writing. That's why I'm always a tired mess.

Anyway, I love writing more than I can even express. Never ever have I had a love I've been so passionate about that, besides the gospel and my family, I've wanted to consume me. I don't think I can convey to anyone who really knows me how serious I am about it since it's a recent passion (last 3 years) and it had never really been a part of me before, but I will say this:

Besides the gospel, my Savior Jesus Christ, and my WONDERFUL family, never have I been more serious about ANYTHING in my life as I am about writing and popping out novels at a normal rate. :) Hehe.

And I know I need to give thanks where it's deserved--not just to those who have my back and support me. I thank Heavenly Father every single day for blessing me with this talent. It's something that started out extremely week, but with my strong desire and passion mixed with prayer, I have nurtured it into what it is today and I KNOW the Lord has blessed me with it.

I also want to say how much I love my family. I have the best husband in the ENTIRE world and there is nobody better for me on this planet. He is just what I need and I'd like to think I'm what he needs. I have the two most wonderful little boys. They are my everything. When everything else melts away, my family is all that matters and my boys put endless smiles on my face every day, reminding me of that.

I am so blessed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recommended Read


Just got done reading Pat Walsh's 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might (longest title in history, right?). I found the information harsh and abrasive, but above all, extremely helpful. In order for a writer to take themselves seriously on the road to authorhood, I think it's necessary to view all the brutal sides of the publishing industry (including all the annoying, knit-picky reasons you most likely will be rejected--because you almost always will). Throughout the book I recoiled at his "jerk" attitude towards writers (even through my giggles at his humor), but his points were very valid and it made me want to strive harder at putting in all the effort necessary to make myself stand out in the "slush-pile" against all the thousands and thousands of submissions agents and editors receive every year. The book had a strange way of making the less-worthy writers feel like crap, but the dedicated writers feel like a million bucks. By the end, I felt inspired, self-assured, humble, blasted full of knowledge and tips, proud to be on the path I was on, and dedicated to continue to put in the hard work (torturous hard work) to go all the way--presuming luck will be on my side. Thanks for your cut-throat opinion, Pat.

So though no one else who is interested is probably reading this, if you are...I highly recommend this book if you're interested in writing/have written. It will help you determine if your dream is a flusy past-time or a serious decision.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Querying, Querying, and More Querying

Unfortunately nothing new to report here. I've sent 5 queries (about a week or so ago) and have gotten back 4 rejections, which I hoenstly expected. So, what I've really been focusing my time on lately has been re-vamping my query letter and synopsis, because I know it can always improve. I feel that though writing prose for my story comes easily, it is SO extremely difficult to write a good query. I have mixed feelings about the query process. I know it works for most and it's completely necessary for agents to sift through the good authors, but it's frustrating because I don't feel a query letter properly portrays the author's writing ability. Query writing is a completely different style than writing a story--one I find completely difficult. Argh.

But I've gotten helpful books from the library and I've been working on getting it just right before I send it off to more. I strongly believe in my story, I love it, and I KNOW there are others out there that will love it too. I just have to find a way to portray that in 2 paragraphs. I got the comment from my best friend, also an aspiring author, who mentioned that though my letter hits on the points and is professional, it doesn't give the reader nearly the same emtotional connection as my story does--meaning, the writing sounds completely different than my book. I tend to agree.

So, how do I change it to fit? This is something I might struggle with for a while before I actually feel satisfied with the outcome enough to send in more letters--if I feel satisfied at all. I tend to be extra critical, so it's hard to say.

With the help of many family and friends who have read my book/are reading it, I have made quite a few edits, so thanks everyone for catching all my little typos and mishaps! Book writing is definitey a process and it scares me a little to think of what would happen to my life if I did get published. It's a harsh business world, like any other business, and am I really ready for that side?

My answer, I've decided, is yes. If it doesn't interfere with my family (they are first and foremost), it will be worth it. Writing is such a JOY in my life and the rest is a joy if it means I can get the things I am passionate about out there for other people to enjoy also.

On the same note, writing is such a joy that even if I don't get published, I will continue because I feel like it is such a part of me. I have at least 3 other story ideas in mind and I'm so anxious to start them all! I love it and even if it forever stays between myself and close family, it'd be worth it.

It is a little disheartening though to think about all the hard work I've put into it, just to keep it for myself. That's where the option of self-publishing comes in. It's not something I even know how I feel about yet, because there are so many cons to it, and even if it is something I will think about, it's not the time.

Anyway, thanks again everyone for your help and feedback!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Movin' On Up

Okay, so THANKS AGAIN TO EVERYONE WHO HELPED ME TWEAK THE SYNOPSIS (especially Steve...HUGE help)! I think it's where I want it, and so this week I am planning on getting to the nitty-gritty process of searching for appropriate agents and submitting my query letter. Writing the synopsis was the hard part, so I'm not too concerned about the rest, since I'll just plug that into each letter I write--with personal touches to each agent, of course. So wish me luck!

Oh, and here's the final draft:

Raegan Fairbanks refuses to move on with her life after the death of her husband—even a year later when a most unexpected mediator unites her with the mysterious Lucas Cross. Raegan and Lucas can’t deny their distinctive connection, but only upon learning they share the same dark tragedy does their bond cosmically fuse.

Lucas, the unrivaled soul with an empathetic ability to heal Raegan’s grief, guides her through the torturous healing process. In pulling her through denial and cynicism, their divine friendship in turn offers him renewal but, irritatingly, leaves him wanting.

However, through revelation of an ominous secret, Raegan and Lucas realize their tie extends beyond innocent parallels. Buffeted with new tragedies and reeling self-discoveries, Lucas finds himself descending on a path of self-destruction where Raegan, a new hurdle in his downward spiral, may ironically prove to be the only means of his survival. Can she live up to his ideal of “personal savior,” or will her desire to free herself drive him to devastation?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mini Synopsis...updated!

First off, I want to thank everyone for the input! Each and every comment was extremely helpful and I've taken something from each one. I can totally see the benefit of writing forums and groups now. But who needs one when you have amazing family and friends to give honest advice? :)

Anyway, as I said before, it was my roughest of drafts and my purpose for posting it was the NEED for outside opinion. So, in taking everyone's criticism, it helped me view it from the outside and do a little reconstruction. THANK YOU! I left most of it the same, except moved around wording here and there, according to what I felt was best.

I have to say that writing synopsises are like death to me. Hate them with a passion. How do you scrunch a 300+ page novel into three paragraphs and entice the readers without revealing too much at the same time? Ugh...it's a difficult process.

Anyway, I want to address a couple comments I got about confusing sentences, etc. I have tried rewording a few of them, but in my experience and from what PERSONALLY entices me, I think mystery is good. You don't want to reveal a lot--just enough to get the reader wanting to figure out why such and such happened. So I guess in a sense, a little "confusion" is good...right? I mean, not to the point where you're thrown off completely, but its all about mystery. I like reading a synopsis I have to stop and ponder a little, possibly reread a few times, because that's what entices me--maybe a sentence with deeper or double meanings--and then trying to figure it out, possibly as I'm reading it. But I'm weird. :)

And on another note, this doesn't just serve as the "book flap" description. I didn't mention this before, but this is basically what my letter will consist of when I query agents. In countless research for what the mini synopsis should consist of, especially for an agent who needs to know the basics, it's better to lay it out. So I don't know. Finding that balance is hard. Also, as far as your comment, Kadie, about not giving a "this happens and this happens" sort of structure (and I totally see what you were saying, by the way), the reason I form it that way is because agents don't want background on feelings, outcomes, etc. They want to know the actions, the happenings in the book. It's all very tricky, querying.

So all in all, most likely this would never be a "book flap" description, more of a hook to snag an agent, so that's what I'm catering it to. And then when they request a full synopsis, I sweat even more and give them the detailed beginning, middle, and end. That's almost worse.

Also, keep in mind that this isn't going to hook everyone (I have to constnatly remind myself of that). Just like there are certain agents that represent certain genres (I will be selective in only querying agents who represent this taste), there are different audiences to different books and I am well aware there are a mass of people who wouldn't be the slightest interested in this, and that's okay. I just have to think (because I know there have to be more people out there like me) of what I would want to read, and if I'm being honest with myself, this is something that would probably grab my attention...partly because I'd be thinking "What the crap happens?"

Anyway, now after my tangent, I want to again thank everyone for the comments and constructive feedback--I honestly appreciate every word of it! So, here's the next revision. If there are any more comments/feedback, please feel free. I'm still incredibly new at this and each hurdle (tee hee) is a learning experience, so I need all of it I can get. :)

"Raegan Fairbanks refuses to move on with her life after the passing of her husband—even a year later when drawn to the mysterious Lucas Cross by a most unexpected mediator. Raegan and Lucas can’t deny their distinctive connection, but only upon learning they share the same dark tragedy does their bond cosmically fuse.

Lucas, the unrivaled soul with an empathetic ability to heal Raegan’s grief, guides her through the torturous healing process. In pulling her through denial and cynicism, their divine friendship sequentially offers him like renewal but, irritatingly, leaves him wanting.

However, through revelation of an ominous secret, Raegan and Lucas realize their tie extends beyond innocent parallels. Buffeted with new tragedies and reeling self-discoveries, Lucas ultimately learns it’s him that’s descending on a path of self-destruction. Raegan, now a hurdle in his downward spiral, ironically proves the only means of his survival. Can she live up to his ideal of “personal savior,” or will her desire to free herself drive him to devastation?"

Mini Synopsis

So, this is the first and roughest draft of my mini synopsis for November Rain. Again, I'll emphasize roughest because usually the first words coming to mind need plenty of work. I'm putting it out here for opinions, so please comment and let me know what you think--if it's enticing enough or needs work.

Imagine going to the book store, pulling a book off the shelf, and reading the inside flap with a brief blurb describing the book and trying to pull readers in. Thinking of it that way, how does this measure up? Thanks again for everyone's feedback! Oh, and if you're curious as to the feel of this novel, in my imagination I'd like to think it would appeal to those who enjoy Nicholas Sparks and like novels--boldly stated. :/

"Raegan Fairbanks refused to move on with her life after the passing of her husband—even a year later when pulled to the mysterious Lucas Cross by the most unexpected mediator. Raegan and Lucas can’t deny the special connection drawing them together, but only upon learning they share the same dark tragedy does their bond cosmically fuse.

Lucas, the single soul with the empathetic ability to heal Raegan’s grief, walks her through the torturous healing process. However, in pulling her through denial and cynicism, their divine friendship sequentially offers himself the proper dose of renewal and, irritatingly, leaves him wanting.

Upon learning their deceased spouses shared the same dark secret, Raegan and Lucas realize they’re more connected than they thought. Being hit with new tragedies and reeling self-discoveries, Lucas soon learns it’s himself that’s headed on a path of self-destruction. Raegan, now a hurdle in his downward spiral, proves the only means of his survival. Can she live up to the ideal of his own personal savior, or will her desire to free herself urge him into devastation?"

Friday, January 29, 2010

The End...I think.

I finsihed my final edit last night...I'm pretty sure, I mean. I'm also pretty sure I'll be going back and making more changes because that's how I am. I can't seem to find satisfaction in the finished project. But for now, it's as good as it's gonna get. So for now, November Rain is done! (Still not even 100% on the title, but it fits.)

I'm also unsure about the first few chapters or so. Not too sure how it's going to be taken, if the way my characters meet is silly, or unfitting for the rest of the book. I've been going back and forth so much. I re-read it and I absolutely love the book, but the first bit I still question. I love the idea, but as always, my problem is--will everyone else?

Well, okay....so I'm realistic enough to know not everyone will. But hopefully, some people will. The people that have my taste. But as I've been working extremely hard lately on not worrying about what anyone else might think, I know it shouldn't matter because I'm writing what I love. In an agent's blog I follow (I follow quite a few to stay current), the advice she gave to writers for 2010 is to follow their guts and stick with it--trust it. So, that's what I'm trying to do.

I need some readers, people who can give me the editing advice I need--nothing formal, just opinions. I have people in mind and have even already asked a couple, but I haven't decided how far I want to take that route yet. A few people I want to ask haven't even finsihed my first book (that I know of), so I feel like I'd be bombarding them if I asked. However, I'm tempted to say to those people, "Put it down and forget it." I'm not extremely proud of it and don't think it'll ever go anywhere anyway. If someone's going to read one, I'd MUCH rather it be this one.

This project is just so near and dear to my heart, in a much more real way than my first. Season of Change was dear to me because it was my first--it was my canvas of learning. But November Rain took me to a place I didn't think I'd go and in falling in love with the characters and the story, it's become a part of me. Which is also one reason I'm extra anxious for opinions. I'm anxious because I want so badly for people to love it as much as I do (granted, I know that probably wont happen), and am a little leary on hearing negative criticism. But I definitely want it--all the feedback I can get. And while it isn't action-packed or fast-moving by any means, it's heart-felt and I hope others feel it as I did when writing it. Maybe I live in a bubble and I'm way outta my league and thinking it's more than what it is. And if so, oh well. I wrote what I love.

So, next is writing the synopsis, mini symopsis, agent research, market research, and query letter writing. Fun stuff. Not really. But it's worth it. However, I think I might take a breather for a bit before I get to that stuff. Maybe wait for some opinions of people who've read it. I also think I need to give my mind a break for the time being. Anyway, when I have written the mini synopsis (the few paragraphs I'd be putting in my one page query letter), I think I'll post it so I can get some feedback. I want it to be as perfect as it can be.

Anyway, thanks to everyone for the support! I have the most amazing family and friends and your support means THE WORLD to me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

All Good Things Come To An End

It's late and I should be getting to bed, but I'm too excited just yet. I had to blog that I just finished my novel! Once I got back in the groove the other day, the rest flowed out and I realized I was closer to the end then I thought. So, even through my exhaust tonight, knowing I only had the epilogue left, I had to finish.

Now, one more final read-through and edit to make sure it all fits, and I'll be done!

Next, the grueling process of querying. Gulp. Not so fun...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bump in the road...

It's late and I'm tired, but because I haven't written anything in a few days, I feel the need to write something...anything. I'm stuck in my novel. I've reached a spot where I have ideas, written some, but I can't go further until I figure out whether I really want to keep things or not. Feeling stuck makes me feel unstable inside. LOL. Things have been flowing so smoothly that it's throwing me off to feel in a rut. I think sometimes my mind is so crammed with ideas and the constant flow is bound to jam sometime. Maybe a few more days without writing will get me back on track. Who knows?

Sometimes I just wish I could step outside myself, sit back and read what I've written as me (because I know my taste), but as the me who hasn't written the story and doesn't know it forward and backward, behind and front. It's hard for me to say if it's really good, if people (people who like the same things as me of course) will actually like it--or if I'm just dreaming. Sometimes it's hard to trust myself.

I start second guessing myself and think, even though I like it and it is definitely something I'd read, I'm afraid everyone else will think it's boring. They probably will. It lacks suspense and action...that kind of stuff. But it's full of emotion, loss, love, betrayal...all the raw human emotions--and just what I like to read about.

So, I guess I have to tell myself, just like I said before, that if I like it, there's got to be other people out there that like those kinds of things, right?

I also worry that because I've written this one so quickly, that it's flowed so well, it stinks. Do you have to have spent months and months on a book to make it good? Hmmm...

Oh, to be someone else in myself for just a day, so I could read it and know...and know what direction to take with this road block! Grrr....it'll come.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Full of thoughts...

Feeling alone most of the time in my bubble of writing, I decided in order to release the pressure that seems to build, I'd blog about it--about all the struggles I experience, my insecurities, confusion, thoughts...basically anything that has to do with my measly writing career. I'll save the other stuff about my kids, etc., for my other blog--my other blog I rarely update. :/

The writing community is a big and scary world and I feel completely inadequate to take it on. However, I am bound and determined to follow the dream as long as my family life allows me to do so. That's the trick--not getting swallowed in it. There are so many times I have to audibly reaffirm to myself that "I am a mother and wife first, a writer second." Sometimes I blur the line, and it's that I'm desperately trying to work on.

It's hard when you have something brewing inside you, a story you have to release, and you feel like if you don't you might self-combust. As with any artist, writing is my outlet and I feel a thriving need to submerge myself in it daily or I'll lose myself, lose the flow. Sometimes I feel it a struggle to explain that to my loved ones, that they don't understand, but it's my "anti-depressant," as my best friend put it. :)

Chloe, my wonderful best friend of thirteen years, is also a writer--one of a couple select friends of mine who share that same passion--and though we don't talk nearly as often as we should, when we do I feel lifted that there IS in fact someone else out there who experiences the same things as me--so similar it's uncanny!

The way I was drowning in the unknown when writing my first book, unsure of its worth and second-guessing myself constantly, the way I went about things COMPLETELY the hard way--she experiences it, too. Everything I feel, the concern about what other people might think, especially loved ones, feeling as though at times it's all you want to do, getting so lost in a story and in the beloved characters you've created that it's all you can think about--I'm not alone! Even in my constant giving excuses I'd do when someone would ask to read it. Before I handed it off, I felt an annoying need to apologize ahead of time or explain myself for its imperfections and mediocrity.

Though I feel like I am the only one harboring this stuff, it helps immensely to know someone else, and someone I love, is experiencing them, too. Maybe that's why I wanted to blog. I love to talk about this stuff--need to, in fact--but feel as though it would be an enormous bore to most of my loved ones in my life, people that don't understand. This way, I get my feelings out there, exploit my struggles without bothering anyone who isn't interested.

An awesome story really quick about Chloe and I...

The first two years I wrote I kept it basically to myself, only told those closest to me. It all boiled down to embarrassment and inadequacy. It'd been something I'd never attempted, and have never even taken classes for, but it was something I'd longed to do for a while and decided to try it out. It felt safer not telling anyone. That way, if I really sucked, I didn't have to let anyone, including myself, down. :)

But turns out it was becoming a serious passion that I had no idea lived inside me. I learned and grew a lot as it progressed, but still held no mention of it, unless someone else mentioned it first. I'd talk to Chloe every few months (we haven't seen each other in years), but never mention it (I think my biggest fear was someone saying "Ooh, I want to read it!" and feeling too insecure in my work to let them). Then about four months ago or so, we talked for the first time in months, catching each other up on the latest news with our families, our high maintenance children who are all too similar, and I decided to mention it.

The funny thing is, a few days before that when I was thinking about Chloe, I imagined telling her and had this fairy-tale idea that it would be so crazy if she I found out she had been writing all these years, too. Neither of us had in the past, but we always seem to be on the same page with things in life, even though our lives are not connected by more than phone calls these years, that it seemed fitting. I laughed that off, and thought nothing of it.

But when I mentioned it to her, we were both surprised to learn we have BOTH been writing out first novels (mine was done at the time)! Almost everything in our situations is the same, except her knack is writing creative fantasy and mine is writing real life (sometimes I wish I had the creativity and imagination to write fantasy...).

Anyway, we talked again today, both feeling lifted by the end because it helps so much to share that with someone else that can relate. Our husbands that don't fully understand, even in their support, our families and friends whose opinions you value highly, but don't always turn out the way you wish.

I've written one novel, one short story, and am almost finished with my second novel, and it's all been a huge learning experience for me in finding my voice and the avenue of writing I want to follow. Now, in my second novel, I feel I've finally found it. I always felt insecure about my first one and even now when I look back at it I still do.

But as I said it was my learning experience. I will always love the story, hold the characters near and dear to me, but I will be realistic is admitting it doesn't show the extent of what I feel my literary talent has developed into. It was my first, the roughest of drafts, and in learning the "way of the business," it helped me in more ways than I can count.

I was serious about getting it out there, not about to give up no matter what rejections I got, but 10 submissions and 8 rejections later I've moved on, given up on it going anywhere. Not given up in a quitters kind of way, just realized it's not marketable. I've used it as the lesson it was, gained what I needed from it, learned a LOT about what not to do, and have moved on.

I have SO appreciated everyone's help and feedback who've read it. I've gotten nothing but good comments (and great advice from a good friend, Steve, who is also brilliant in my opinion), but I always referred to it as "juvenile," for lack of a better term. Then in talking to Chloe today, she mentioned the word that I feel fits it perfectly: easy. It might appeal to many because the story is simple, and the writing easy to follow--even to those who've not had much experience reading. It's a cute story, but in reality not marketable.

I look back on it now and almost cringe. I feel as thought I have come leaps and bounds since then and have finally found the voice I desire to represent myself. Part of finding that was in writing my short story (really short story--under 2 pages). I was extremely proud of it, the writing on the page sounding just like I wanted it to--unlike Season of Change, my first novel, where I constantly second guessed myself, read it back and wondered if it really sounded the way I wanted.

And again, with the amazing help of my friend Steve, I was able to learn a lot more about writing just from that page and a half (I told Steve after that that I should pay him to be my English teacher to make up for not ever having one). However, though in literary terms I felt immense satisfaction, I realized not everyone will feel the same way. Others, especially those who don't make reading a passionate pastime, may not get the double ended meanings, the symbolism. Others may be bored, unable to break it down and see the writing the way I intended.

I realized that when Dave, my wonderful, supportive husband, read it and had absolutely no comment. It was hard not to laugh at myself, get discouraged, but I had to come to terms with the fact that Dave has no English or literary background whatsoever, and that avenue is not up his ally by any means.

I've even started reading him my new novel, feeling ten times more confident than when I read him my first, and oddly I've come to the sensation that he doesn't see it for what it's worth, that he actually enjoyed my first, less well-written novel more! I didn't understand and it made me start to second guess my gut that told me it was good. I started doubting myself, thinking it must be horrible, but again, in talking to Chloe today I realized that though he might be biggest supporter, it's just not his genre. Dave doesn't read much, has always hated literature, so I can see why this might be more boring to him.

I realized that there are ALWAYS going to be people that don't fit in the group that will love your work--even if they are your family. What I've learned (and not just from Chloe, but I also had a stimulating conversation with my sister, Heather, about this a few days ago) is that you can't appeal to every audience. You just can't. But there IS an audience out there that happen to love reading what you are writing and have been waiting for it.

Ultimately, my goal in writing what I love is to write something someone else will love--even if it isn't my family and friends. That's what it all comes down to. I've also learned that writing is the fun, easy part and after that's done, that's when the real work begins. At least I know what to expect now. For the most part.

Something else that has been weighing inside me lately (and this is the gist of what Heather and I talked about) is how to uphold to my standards as a member of the LDS church and still write what moves me. Now, I am not one for sexually graphic books. I find them extremely offensive and they just plain make me sick to my stomach. The few times I've got a novel, started reading it, and have found it actually a smutty romance novel, I've felt like I had to shower afterwards just from stumbling upon the words. It's extremely disappointing to be into a good story and have to stop it to preserve your sanity.

Anyway, so what I'm saying is I don't write that stuff, never will. I will also never use the "F" word or take the Lord's name in vain in a novel, because some things are going to far in my opinion. However, I feel as though I'd be cheating myself if I didn't hit on the realities of life--the sometimes dark and sinister, less clean ones. I haven't censored myself much in my new novel (besides those strict guidelines I mentioned earlier) and have been worried about how that might look to other people--I can think of a handful of family and friends who I worry might be "disappointed" that I've "let values slide," or not portrayed my faith in my writing.

Let me point out, because I'm sure I'm making it sound MUCH worse than it is, that to a normal person, what I write is perfectly normal and respectable. I know many people that have high standards as I do that read projects of equal content and enjoy them. My concern is that, will people hold me to a higher standard, knowing I'm a member of my church?

I shouldn't worry so much, but I can't help it when I think of certain people reading my book and coming across an occasional cuss word, or less respectable thoughts of the characters.

We are all human, all have flaws, and in my writing I enjoy that I can expand on that. It's real life and that's my liberation as a writer--to write what moves me. As Heather so brilliantly put it, I am not writing to represent the Faith I am a part of, but I am an INDIVIDUAL who is writing about life, who just so happens to be a member of the church I am.

I always got annoyed with people when I was younger who would appreciate something less "worthy" because it was "art," but now I can say I understand (to a certain degree, of course...let's not get extreme). I love to appreciate literature for its brilliant writing quality, despite the fact that some of its content might be hard to stomach (besides the written pornography I mentioned earlier, of course). Good writing is good writing and should be appreciated.

Where am I really going with this? Haha...I'm not so sure. I kind of went off on a rant. But I guess that's what the point of this blog is, right?

Anyway, even before I started writing, I always thought that if I did become a writer, I'd want to keep my religion separate. Writing about things and relating them to gospel principals scares me, frankly. The last think I want to do is write something and have our religion--the thing I hold most near and dear to me--judged or taken out of context because I inappropriately represented it. I think it's great that people can write good, LDS related stories and I commend them for that. I just don't feel I'm up to the task, and honestly a part of me doesn't want myself to show through my writing. My writing is something I've created, not me in any personal way.

Anyway, that being said, I am a devoted member of my church and know it to be true with all my heart, and therefore intend on keeping my stories at a level where I won't "compromise" mine or any of my readers values, regardless of some of the raw material in my projects.

Being the peacemaker and pleaser I am, I felt the need, though probably unnecessary, to put that disclaimer. :) I know this post probably beats most in longest blog post of the century, but now that it's started, I'm sure shorter posts are to follow--little blurbs and vents about my thoughts here and there. And thanks to anyone, if there is anyone out there, who has the patience to read it. :)