Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wandering Mind

That's me lately, The Wandering Mind.

I have so much going on in there that I'm not sure what's up or down some days. I have been working so hard on getting my novel ready for submission that I think I'm beginning to go cross eyed. At the same time, I'm ready to move on to another project. I have the second book to Midnight Raynne already playing out in my mind. I won't start it until I have begun to submit the queries for Midnight Raynne to agents, though. I want to make sure the first book is solid and ready for agents before I get sucked into another story.

I'm antsy, though. I want to get started on the next chapter in Raynne's life. The whole story has a new feel to it entirely. The first book is kind of dark, but this second book I'm thinking will be much brighter for Raynne. She will have a different out look on life and her "situation" all together. That of course is based on what happens at the end of the first book.

Raynne isn't the only book floating through my head at the moment either. The story I wrote last November for NaNoWriMo is still lingering in my head. It's a story that I wrote three separate times. The final time being last November from scratch. I like that version so much more, but it is still lacking big time. The other day I came up with an idea for a new character and story line, but was having a difficult time deciding what the book would be about. Then last night I had the idea of merging this new character with another character from the original story. I think that will make it better. Now, to work on the story line. I need more, it's still lacking. But, first I want to get Raynne finished. I want to write this second novel in her story and possibly a third and final story. I would like to have a good solid trilogy worked out for her.

Your Turn -> Do you get antsy towards the end of the editing process?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kindle or not to Kindle

Maybe I should have put eBook or not to eBook at the top, since there are different ones? Either way, I'm partial to the Kindle, because that's the one I own.

I have been pondering this question for a while now after seeing several tweets on Twitter about eBooks vs print books. I've heard that eBooks are threatening to do away with print books, yet I don't see that happening quite so quickly. Yes, in the future I do believe that most books will be electronic, but I don't see that happening for a while. Why not?

Well, first off even though I do own a Kindle and love to download book after book after book to it I also still love to read print books. Books I really, really, really like I have in both print and eBook. Second, I my mom and I still get print books and share them. It's fun to talk about the after we have both read them. Third, I can't get eBooks from my library or my daughter's book fair's at school. Yes, this last book fair I bought a book for myself, not her. In my defense, she didn't want one and I did. Turns out after reading the blurb on the back of the book I bought she is now interested in possibly reading it. One point for Mom! Forth, nothing beats being able to turn the pages of a good book. I like to flip forward to see how many pages are left in a chapter.

Electronic books are so much more convenient, though. That they are. I have a toddler who enjoys ripping paper, pages from books to be exact. He thinks this is great fun, hence why eBooks on my Kindle are better for me. He can't rip any pages and I can easily turn it off so he can't hurt the writing. I still have to keep it out of his reach, but he grows bored of looking at it quickly. It's not as much fun. I also have the advantage when reading a book on my Kindle of not waking him up if he happens to fall asleep next to me. When he was an infant I found it extremely difficult to read a paper book and nurse him at the same time. However, using my Kindle made that much easier.

In the end, I like both print and electronic books. They both have their ups and downs.

Your Turn--> Which do you prefer?

Friday, March 25, 2011

1st Person vs. 3rd Person

I got the idea for this post the other day when I finished reading a book in first person and started reading another book written in third person. For some reason it took me a chapter to get used to the change, it usually does when I switch back and forth. But, then I got to thinking while I was editing my own WIP. I am writing it in the first person, because I feel more comfortable writing in first person. I also tend tend to like reading in first person as well.

That said I don't turn up my nose at third person, not by a long shot. Instead I started wondering if I should break it up more and try writing in third person occasionally, give myself a challenge now and then. I started thinking about everything I have written in the past two years. Out of all of my short stories and three novels, I have only ever written a few short stories in third person. One of which I happen to like quite a bit, as does my daughter. She has even asked me to write a novel about it and I'm still in the debating stage of that one.

But, I wonder what my writing would be like if I changed it up a bit, now and then. In fact I think once I have finished working on my WIP and it is out for review I may take a look at a couple short stories that are in third person. I may write a new one, just to try it out a little more. I may even enter them in for either publication or contests. I know of a couple contests that I'd love to have a go at.

Your Turn --> Which do you like better for reading/writing? First or third person?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Time to Shine!

My goal with my current WIP is to have it in shape and ready to go out for review by mid-April. So far, I'm right on track. Yesterday I finished the third draft, ahead of schedule. I was shooting to have it done by today, but I got lucky. I'm trying a new method to my editing process. Instead of editing everything at once I've been breaking it up into pieces.

My first draft was the story itself. I threw caution to the wind and wrote the thing in twelve short days. Compared to my third draft, the first draft stunk to high Heaven's. In the first round of editing, my second draft, I fixed all of the major plot holes and mistakes. I even gave my WIP and entirely new ending; one I really like. Then in my second round of editing, my third draft, I fixed character flaws. I made sure that my character had a distinct character arc and that my characters were more rounded. I made sure that what is going on in all of the other side characters shows through in what my MC observes.

Now I'm on to my third round of editing, my fourth draft. Wow, that's a lot of drafts so far. Yes, but now I have to edit for word choice, flow, clarity, and other mistakes that I may have made. This is the spit and shine round of editing. Once it is all shiny and pretty I'll send it out for review and make changes based on input I receive.

Then it's out for submission!

Your Turn -> Do you have a certain way you edit?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why we write ...

I got thinking about this over the weekend. Why on Earth do I want to be a writer? I'm still not sure I can fully explain the need I have to write and get my stories out there. But, here's my go at it.

1) I love to write - Well, that's pretty much a given that I love to write. I see it mentioned here and there that writing is a job and that you need to tackle it like any other profession. I've seen other writers suggesting that you write for the market if you want to get published, not yourself. Okay, so that's where I draw the line. My writing isn't written solely to be published, I write for me, and if that just so happens to be something an agent and publisher like, then so be it. If not, then I had a blast writing it. Maybe one day I will write something that is amazing and will become a best seller, but that would only be icing on the cake.

2) I love to get lost in the story - I like to create worlds and characters. I've been a day dreamer my whole life and I like the idea that I can possibly get paid to day dream. It's fun. When I read I find that I get lost in the stories, characters, their lives and worlds surround me and make me feel good. For me it's like watching television. My husband loves to watch TV, I love to read. And hey most of the good movies are adaptations from books.

3) I love the idea of creating something that no one else has or can - My characters, their journeys, their worlds, are all a figment of my imagination. They were all dreamed up by me and that's something that is uniquely mine alone. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I did something great uniquely me.

4) Why not? I see other writers mentioning that people around them have said "I'd love to write a novel, but ..." and they usually insert something that demeans or insults writers everywhere at the end. I've decided that I don't want to be one of those people. I want to write a story and be able to say that I did it. I wrote a novel. I gave characters life, a world to live in, and a place to be. I see it in the eyes of some people I talk to when I mention that I'm writing a novel. Their voices have that tinge of doubt, their eyes betray what they are really thinking. They don't believe anything will ever come of it. That's fine. They don't have to believe in my writing. I just think to myself, "At least I stopped saying maybe someday and I actually did it."

So, now it's your turn: Why do you write?

Friday, March 18, 2011

To Critique Or Not To Critique? That is the question.

As I venture to the end of the journey with Midnight Raynne I find that I am wondering more and more about critique groups. The idea has been floating around in my brain for weeks now and I still don't have a clear idea on what I want to do with regards to them.

There are pros and there are cons, as with almost anything. I have done a beta read before and absolutely love the idea of having our peers give us a better idea of what they liked or didn't like with our work. However, if you are like me, then you have a slight problem with this area. I find it very difficult to not like a book. I almost always like what I read. Then again, I look at each new book I read by itself entirely. I try not to compare them to other books I've read in the past, they are all unique, like us. Each one it's own individual unique snowflake floating around the world. For this reason I don't think I'm the best person to critique someone else's writing.

On that same note I worry that someone else will read my book and tell me just how flat and boring and horrible it is. Yes, that has occurred to me that it can happen. My husband laughs at this notion. A quick side note to why he laughs. In NJ to become a teacher you have to take proficiency tests and pass them. I had to take two of them, one in elementary education and one in middle school social studies. I studied for both tests, took them, and came home in tears. I was sure I had failed both. Nothing that I had studied from the book I had on elementary ed was on the test. I fully expected to receive a notice saying I had to retake the test. When the results finally came I opened the large envelope first leaving the smaller one till last. In the larger envelope was a certificate of achievement stating that I had tested within the top 15% of all test takers for the elementary ed test. SHOCK! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Not only had I passed both tests I had done exceedingly well at one of them. He laughed because every time I take a test I think I did horrible on it and really do quite well. He's applying the same logic to my writing. I kind of hope he's right. *Fingers crossed*

Back to the topic, though. While trying to decide about critique groups and how to go about getting into one I happened upon a disscusion group on Goodreads with a well known author. When asked if she could read a fans work she replied that for legal reasons she cannot read unpublished novels. This struck me and I started to wonder about that as well. Is it best for writers to not read unpublished works. I mean, it could be rather easy for one writer to critique another writer, write their own piece of work, and have the critiqued writer claim they stole something from their novel. So, then where does that put writers?

Just when I was leaning towards finding a critique group I found out it might actually be a problem. So, now I'm still stuck deciding on whether I should find someone to critique my writing or not.

What are your thoughts on critique groups? Are you a part of one? Have they helped you?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Productivity?

What does productivity mean for writers?

I've often pondered this question. Trying to figure out if I'm productive or not. As a writer what consists of being productive? I'm sure some of my friends and extended family think I'm just fiddling around and goofing off. If they do, they haven't said anything. To them I'm sure my writing productivity is something totally different.

I've come up with a list of different ways that we as writers can mark our productivity:

Research - I've had days where all I did was research. I don't have a single typed word to show for, but the ideas are forming more and more in my head.

Word Count - I didn't used to keep track of my daily word count, but since NaNoWriMo I have been obsessed with keeping track of my word count. Some days I log very few words and others, like today, I log almost 4k words. To date I have 62,583 words in my YA manuscript. I am shooting for at least 70k by the time I'm ready for submission. We'll see how that goes.

Pages - I've seen other writers on Twitter logging how many pages. To me that's hard to do. For some reason I find that marking how many pages I have written a little difficult. I do pay attention to the number of pages, every now and then. Like today I noticed that I have 200 pages to my manuscript in size 12 font, Times New Roman, and double spaced. Looking back on my college experience when I had to write a 20 page historically accurate research paper and thought that was hard, I'm floored I have this much written. 

Editing - There are days where I don't do any research or any writing at all. Instead I read over my work and note changes that need to be made to either the plot, scene, descriptions, characters, or anything that needs to be fixed. I usually do a full run though of the novel, which takes time, before I go back to fixing the changes. Sometimes I'll be reading a chapter late in the work and realize that I need to fix something earlier in the book. It's easier to fix that if I haven't even begun the actual fixing. I just add it to my notes for that section. Then when I do go through and fix the actual work I have a more streamlined experience.

Reading - Yes, reading is also a form of productivity to me. I usually don't read much while I write the first draft of anything, but then when I'm doing the editing process I tend to read up a storm.

So, now do I log those hours of working? No, I haven't yet begun to do that. I just log it in regards to how many days I have been doing this or that. Maybe I'll start to log those hours eventually. It would be interesting to see how much time I actually spend working on my novel.

How do you mark your productivity?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Writing A Novel Is Like Building A House

Obviously someone who builds houses might look at this and say, "What? Has she lost her mind?" I would answer, "Why no. No I haven't." If you truly think about it building anything is similar to building something else. For example, we all start with plans, then we build upon those plans to make it a reality.

1) As writers we begin with a thought, an idea. Builders being with plans.
2) We decide to take that idea and bring it to fruition. In doing so we lay the foundation for our novel. For example. I had the idea for my latest WIP late at night. I could have ignored it and mulled it over for a while. Instead I jumped out of bed and started writing. I started building that foundation.
3) Once the foundation (my first draft) was laid, I began to build the frame. By building the frame I mean I began to fix the plot, tighten it up. The roof needs something to hold it up and that would be the plot. Without the plot (frame), or plot holes (support beams), the roof will come tumbling down.
4) Once the plot (frame) is in place we begin to close it up, board it up, put the roof on. By this I mean we tighten up the plot and characters. For me I have been doing this by working through the characters eyes. I have sat down for the past week and looked at each individual character, chapter by chapter, to see what it's like for them. What are they thinking or doing? As a result I have been closing up that frame, making it more leak proof. I still have yet to do the actual writing on this section. I've only been planning.
5) The next step after closing everything up and tightening the story (house) is to smooth out all of the edges. Make it more seamless and liveable. In this stage the writer (or the builder) puts other important pieces together to make the jump between chapters or scenes more natural.
6) The final stage is to move in, so to speak, bring it to life. This is where the writer makes sure that every little flaw is smoothed out and begins to put the finishing touches on their WIP. It's as if the builder is putting the decorations in a show home, ready to show it off to potential customers (agents) with the hopes of gaining a buyer (publisher).

So, I don't think that I'm too far off when I say that building a home and writing a novel are similar. I think they both take different amounts of expertise, but where as building a house involves many people and lots of money, writing a novel is a solitary job and doesn't require much money, mostly time and lots of brain energy.

Your turn: Tell me what you think writing a novel is most like?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Rewriter

"I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter." ~ James Michener

I posted this quote back in October of 2010 when I was still trying to figure out my blog and had a particular day where I posted a quote. Today I am feeling this quote. I have finished writing my newest WIP and done one round of editing focusing on the plot. It's amazing to see how it has transformed in just that one round of editing. It was quite possibly the most difficult round of editing so far.

The main thing, though, is that where I had a good story, I believe, I now have an even better story. Where holes were there are patches, where flat ground once was is now a hill or a mountain. I see where James Michener was saying. Compared to my once revised novel, the original draft stinks, and horribly at that. I still have editing, rewriting, to do on my WIP. Yes, there's more of that to come.

Currently I am reviewing my WIP for character, descriptions, weather, and relevance. Yes, I said it relevance. My belief is that if the chapter or scene does nothing to move the story forward and is nothing more than filler then it must be cut. I'm looking at that now, again. I already looked at it when I revised for plot, but I am looking again through the characters eyes.

I believe that once I am done with this next round of editing I will see that once again my WIP has undergone another major transformation. I almost can't wait to see the results. And, yes, if you are wondering, I still have at least one more round of major revisions to do after this one. I have found that revising with specific goals each time around is better suited for my writing. I don't think I could look at everything all at once over and over again as I edit. I need to focus myself to get the job done. Otherwise I will find myself overwhelmed.

How about you, how do you feel after revising?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Story Endings

Well, it happened this weekend. I started a whole new WIP a month ago and didn't like the original ending. During the first stage of editing I came up with a new ending, but it wasn't really setting too well with me. I still felt it was falling short. I really want this project to fill out into three books. Partly because I feel that there is too much to be told in Raynne's story than will ft into one book. The other reason is that it appears most YA novels these days are trilogies.

The closer I came to the ending during this first stage of editing the more anxious I became. I didn't know quite where the end was going to take me. Finally, over the weekend I decided to just write and see where it would take me. It took me to a much better first book ending than I had. I know there is still work to be done on the ending, but at least I'm happy with it this time.

How do you know when the ending you have written is the right ending for the story?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Cyberworld Cuttoff

I realize I've been missing in the world of the internet this past week and it's been somewhat bittersweet. I love doing my internet thing, blogging, tweeting, and surfing the web in general. However, for the past week I have been MIA. It started out as being busy, but then turned into an experiment of sorts. I haven't gone on Twitter once in the last week, not once. If you've seen a tweet from me it was through the goodreads site. Yes, I couldn't fully stay off the internet.

But, overall the experience has been interesting. I haven't visited any blogs as a result of not allowing myself to surf the web or stay on the internet for more than five minutes at a time. I'm not sure what prompted me to do this, but I did.

What happened? What did I learn?

On the downside:
  • I miss everyone in the Twitter world and blogging world. It takes up a lot of my time, but I miss those interactions. 

On the upside: I got so much done!
  • I read two books, hence the goodreads updates. Both were YA debut releases by new authors. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton and Haven by Kristi Cook. I absolutely loved both of them. 
  • I got so much editing done. I really pushed hard on fixing my novel, Midnight Raynne. 14K+ words have been added so far. That's good considering that YA novels are usually around 60K and when I finished my rough draft I had just over 38K. I still have a lot to do on this first round of editing. I'm totally rewriting the ending, so this next week will be brutal on my characters and their journey, but it has to be done. 
  • I spent time with the family and actually started cooking meals that took longer than 30 minutes to make and are good for them. 
  • I learned that I can kick my brother-in-laws rear, sometimes, at Tetris. That is fun, we log on through the Playstation Network from our own homes and battle. 

So that was my experience with staying off the internet as much as was possible. It was interesting, but I really want to get back to my cyberworld now.

Have you ever done anything like this?