Sunday, January 31, 2010

Putting It Out There

I sent my first 500 pages to the Kidlit contest today.  Yes I waited until the very last day.  This is just the way I am.  I have a hard time putting anything out there unless I've done everything in my power to make it the best it can be.

I'm really anxious to get this feedback and I think it's an amazing opportunity to get a 500 word critique from someone so experienced, and whose oppinion I have come to value so much.

I have to work hard to turn-off the fantasy that I've created and focus on the reality that this will make me a better writer no matter what.

Repetitions Removed

I finished editing my book for repetitions.  I'm excited to get it typed up and see how many words I was able to cut.  I'm betting it's down to 30,000 words.  The story gets tighter with each revison. 

One thing I notice though, is that I seem to make fewer and fewer changes as I go along.  I think I just poop out and let things slide that I woul dhave nit-picked earlier.  This concerns me.  It also tells me that I'm reaching a place where I need professional help, and no I don't mean Psychiatry,  although...

I picked up a few more editing books, Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules among them.  What a crack up.  I was going to take it into the gym and read it on the treadmill.  I'm glad I skimmed it first, because the whole book took me less than 20 minutes to read.  Yet every word was dead on, including hooptedoodle.  So I'm trying to follow Leonard's advice.  The hardest one is getting rid of all exclamation points.  He says you're allowed two for every 100,000 words, which means that I'm not even allowed one.  Ha!  That might be tough.  But since punctuation is the bane of my existence to begin with, what did I expect.

The thing that is impossible is to not describe my characters.  I could normally go along with this suggestion, wholeheartedly, and have at least one book in mind, where I will never give a physical description of any character.  But for this book their physicality is essential to the story.  They simply must be described.  However, I do try to show the descriptions of the main characters instead of giving a "police blotter" summary.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Repitition Revision

I thought I was really close to finishing my revisions when I came repitition revision.  This involves going line by line, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, chapter by chapter and looking for any place where things have been repeated.  Wow, this is hard.  I've got so much to do. 

It's funny the things you notice when you start breaking down one task at a time like this.  What sounds perfectly normal in your head, when you pick through it in detail sounds funny. 

It may take a while to finish this revision, and based on the amount of changes I'm making I may have to re-type and print before I can do anymore revising.  But I'm almost at the end.

The last revision is the dreaded grammar, comma placement, style, etc..  But it will be a while before I get to that.  I'm not stalling really!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kidlit Contest

I've been working really hard to get my manuscript up to snuff so I can enter this contest on  Mary Kole, with Andrea Brown Literary Agency is running the contest.  One of the requirements is that you post the contest to two other web-sites.  Sound simple right?  Unfortunately, I'm such a neophyte at this blogging, social networking, thing that I'm not at all sure I did this right.  I posted it to the SCBWI discussion boards, and on my blog on Jacket Flap.  However, I've already seen the same information posted on these sights previously.  I hope this doesn't disqualify me. 

I really am trying to get this all figured out.  It's unbelievable how much information is out there for writers.  Frankly it's overwhelming.  Anyway, Mary's site is one of the best out there.  She tells it like it is, but she really tells it.  She posts daily about things writers need to know.  I honestly don't know how she does it, because like all agents she has a full day of work, and then reading slush, etc. after hours.  And I'm not just saying this because she might check up on my blog. 

Whether you enter the contest or not, check out her blog, along with Kristen Nelson's they are two of my favorites.

Kidlit Contest

Monday, January 25, 2010

Very Short Blog

I'm still working on typing up all my re-writes from my last five revisions.  I have to have a clean copy or I'm going to get confused.  But it's taking soooo long.  I will finish for sure tomorrow night, so I can make another print out.  I know some people can work off the computer, but not me for a couple of reasons. I have to have a print out that I can take with me, and I have to be able to see it in print. 

Also, I am almost unable to walk after Saturday.  It keeps getting worse.  I did my regular 60 min on the eliptical thinking it would loosen my calves up, but they are seriously damaged.  I think boot camps not my thing.  I swear I can't put my legs straight when I walk I have to walk on my toes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Beats and Boot Camp

Today I finished highlighting all  the beats in my manuscript.  Now I need to go through and make sure that none of them are strangling my dialogue.  Also to make sure that I have beats where I need them.  I'm still hoping to eliminate a lot of the "saids" in my manuscript. 

Tomorrow I need to type up all my changes from the past 5 reviews, and make another print-out, so I can continue reviews.

I also have to get my first 500 words up to perfection for the contest.

So what's boot camp?  Well although this blog is 99% about my journey as a writer, I thought it might be good to include some funnies from my day-to-day life.  So boot camp has nothing to do with writing.  It's a class I took at the gym.  It was an intence one hour hell of areobics, weights, spin, all together.  Oh Lord help me, I'm pretty sure walking is going to be out of the question tomorrow. 

Here's the thing, I didn't just haul my big 44 year old behind out of bed one day and decide to go to the gym and do "boot camp".  For one thing, my behinds not all that big, for another, I work out 28 days out of 30 and have been doing for over two years.  I spend an hour every night on the eliptical machine, sweating like a pig and shedding 600 calories.  So I thought, boot camp, sounds tough, but I can handle it.


Oh my what a joke.  I thought I was going to die about 3 minutes into the initial warm up (laps around the classroom which progressed to bunny hops.)  Milo would be disgusted with me, 'cause this girl cannot hop.  I think it's because of my ankle, even after three years it's weak after the break.  I'll have to get a wrap for it. 

So they only do this every other Saturday.  I don't know how that's going to work out with my schedule.  I'm serious!  I'm not just slacking, I swear.  If it's on a knitting Saturday, I can do it.  But when the weather gets better if it's a zoo weekend I can't do a 11:15 program. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thank Heaven for SCBWI

Let me start by saying that if you write for children and you're not in SCBWI, you need to join.

Through the Society of Children's Book Writers in Illlustrators, I have joined a critique group which has been very helpful.

I also posted a question about "Interior Monologue" (see previous post) on the SCBWI discussion boards.  I got some amazing answers from expert writers. 

Not to mention last weeks mini-conference about Social Networking. 

Thanks to everyone who makes SCBWI possible.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interior Monologue

Yesterday I highlighted all of the interior monologue in my book.  Now I need to go back and review it and find out if it needs or does not need thinker attributions.  I think probably not in most cases.  Milo is the only one who has any interior monologue, except for a few rare cases where Grandmother Oakentower has a snarky thought on something.  So I'll probably eliminate most of the thinker attributions.  I just typed those without much real thought in my first draft. 

The next thing is to look at mechanics and here I must say I'm confused:  I don't know if I should use italics for all (in which case there could be a lot of italics), 1st person when for all of Milo's interior dialogue (some came out naturally in the 1st person, but I don't know if that would work for all.)  Another option is to put them in a separate paragraph.

I'm going to get some advise from some of the gurus.

Also, critique group meeting tonight.  This will be our first time to meet twice in a month, although I don't know if you can count that first week in Jan because we had 20 below wind chill and 18 inches of snow.  Anyway, it will be good to see everyone and really get back into the swing for 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dialogue a Done Deal

I can't believe I'm already done with my dialogue revisions.  I thought it would take all week.  One concern is that I have severl passages where one of my mid-level characters bounce really short comments off of each other.  I hope it doesn't come out soudnign choppy. 

I also logged into my first #kidlitchat on twitter tonight.  Very interesting.  Some people seemed to be having their own conversation with no one in particular. I'm going ot have to bone up on my typing to be fast enough to chime in.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dialogue My Fave!

So today, I worked mainly on my dialogue, and got about half way through.  This is my favorite thing.  I did get a little confused, however when reading over what a few people had to say on the subject.  In my "Self Editing for Fiction Writers," it seemed to be saying that your dialogue should have beats, but in another blog I found they seemed to downplay this idea. 

Maybe I didn't even get that right.  I am getting a bit frazled at this point.  Anyway, I liked my dialogue more than I thought I would.  Some of it has beats that add context, setting, actions, etc.  But some is very spare.  I don't want to "strangle my dialogue".  Of course I made a lot of changes, but not as many as I thougth I would have to. 

Also still working on the Social Media thing.  Something is wrong with my picture on Tweetdeck, it needs to be in jpg.  I'll have to find it, and fix it later.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Social Networking

I did some more work on POV by reading only MC POV and then reading only the omnicient narrator POV.  That worked really well.

But mainly this weekend has been about Social Networking.  I attended a fantastic program at our regional SCBWI in Kansas City.  Thanks to Jenn Bailey (see  She's amazing and will be speaking at the National SCBWI conference in New York. 

So now thanks to Jenn, I'm no longer afraid of twitter.  And I've also learned about tweetdeck.  I've made some changes to my blog and now all I have to do is set up a web page.  Oh boy.

Oh yeah, and write a book. 

Once again it brings it home that writing is a long and time consuming effort.  Although it's a little frustrating and I want things to go faster, I feel that putting in the effort will make the reward all that more meaningful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Upping the Stakes

After reading as a reader, I found that the stakes really need to be ramped up early on in the book, so I added a new section, where the threat is introduced and emphasised earlier.  This means that I'm going to have to re-work several later sections, but overall I think it's going to work out.  I'll make this version VIIIa.

I also noticed some area where the POV is off.  I want both voices to be really distinct.  I hate reading a book where it's clear from the font or the chapter heading or whatever that the POV has changed, but halfway down the page you forget which POV you're in because they all sound the same. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reading as a Reader

So I finished reading through my manuscript for what feels like the 500th time.  It's still pretty funny to me, but I've become inured to the gross stuff.  I also found a big section that I need to cut, and another section that I need to add.  I really have to ramp up the tension more in the beginning, so I'm going to try to bring a main character in earlier to present the challenge. 

Monday, January 11, 2010

POV Finally Sorted

So I hung out under the snuggie all weekend finishing my POV break down.  I also did typed of all of my last rhee revisions.  Color coded my POV and then printed it out. 

Now I'm working on Proportion.  Starting out by reading as a reader.  Then I have to look for white space.  Still so much to do.  I don't know if I'll make my February deadline or not

Friday, January 8, 2010

And Still More POV

Still working on POV.  This is a very slow process.  I have seven more chapters to go.  Then I've got to re-type everything, and do another print out.  And then maybe another break.  But still so much to do.

I met with my critique group last night.  It wasn't really a group though.  Only one other person made it.  Of course that's probably because of the 20 below wind chill and the piles of snow everywhere. 

So our new critique group member is so talented.  What a great voice she has.  I'm very excited, and very jealous!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gotta Love POV

Well my goal of getting my POV revisions done today is completely out the window.  This is going to be a hard one.  I think I'm going to try to leave most of it in the omniscient, but there are a few parts that have to dip into the main characters POV.  I hope this isn't taboo.  The books I've read seem to support this approach, but they also say that omnicient is outdated.  I just like it for this story because of the zombie aspect of things.  Especially in the beginning, I'm not sure we all want to be looking out of Milo's little magotty head.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Back to Work

Well, back to the job that is.  Luckily today was slow and I was able to get a lot of real work done on my revisions.  I completed Character and Exposition and now I'm working on the dreaded POV.  I'm still stuggling with POV. 

I started at the Third Act, or Chapter 20 on POV.  For Character and Exposition I had to start at Chapter 1, that's all that made sense.  But I think it helps to start in different places when possible. 

Anyway, I hope to complete POV tomorrow.  Then Thursday we have our first critique group meeting this year.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I spent the past two days editing my whole book for, Show vs Tell.  Mainly looking for areas of Narrative Summary that needed to be changed to scenes or dialogue, or placed where I expressed a characters emotions instead of showing them.  I didn't find a great deal of narrative summary, assuming of course that I knew what I was looking for.  But overall, I think that this book is more heavy on action and diaglogue.  I hope that's OK since it's a "boy book"

I also tried something a little different on this pass through.  I started in the middle of the book instead of the beginning.  I was starting to feel that the beginning of the book was getting more attention than the end, and that at the end I peetered out and didn't do as good a job of catching things.  I think this was right, because I certainly made more changes to the middle and end of the book this round than I did the beginning. 

With many more revisions to go, hopefully I'll catch everything from beginning to end.  Next up is Character and Exposition.