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Thursday, June 30, 2005

If You Write it, He Will Come

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of Chapter 17. Great job, kudos to me.
Today, I must work on Chapter 18.

Last night, I laid in bed trying to think of what the next scene should be.
Whose pov? Val, the main character? Perhaps. Doug, the love interest? Maybe. The maimed girl? Nah. I don't think I'll let her have her own pov. I think I want to limit it to 3, including the antagonist.

So, what should happen? I know what needs to happen in order to finish the story. But, I've got 250 pages in which to wrap it up. Not time to start thinking about bringing her home just yet.

Normally, at the halfway point I begin working toward the end. Too soon right now. I'm only on page 153.

I fell asleep still having no idea.

So, here I am this morning. Still clueless, I sat my bottom at my desk and typed on the next page, half-way down "Chapter 18". Amazing how liberating that feels. It's like I'm halfway there already.

Then, I read the last few pages of the scene before last to remind myself of what was going on and the emotions involved.

Then, I put fingers to keyboard. My muse, who I thought was on vacation, seeing my tush in the magic desk chair has shown up. And as I typed the first word, it hit me.
The police are coming to pay my main character a visit. ooohhhh. Of course they are! Her brother's in a world of trouble. That's the hook I need to propel this story through the middle. A big surprise at the 1/3 point. Yes!

Poor Valencia. Poor Bailey. How will they get out of this? Not sure yet. And if I'm biting my nails trying to figure that out, maybe, just maybe, the reader will do the same.

So, what did I accomplish writing-wise today? Nothing but a chapter head and two sentences. Doesn't seem like a lot, but now that I have the chapter premise in my head, the words will fly onto the computer screen.

After work, after dinner, after kissing the husband and kids, I will sit down and within an hour, maybe two have a rough draft of Chapter 18.

Then, I'll erase my kitchen chalkboard and write "Chapter 19". Ooooh that's only one chapter away from a milestone. Chapter 20 and the halfway mark. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'm Back Baby

It's been months since I've written a new chapter.

I was, of course, working hard to edit my first MS. So, sloth wasn't the culprit.

When I learned I had interest in my second novel, The Demon Chaser, I knew I had to get busy. The book is only one-third of the way done.

I've spent weeks trying to think of what should happen next. And, I was a bit blocked, I must say. Writer's block isn't normally something I struggle with.

It seems the longer I thought, the more daunting the task of writing the next scene became.

But, the day before yesterday I sat at my computer and tapped away. I came up with a couple of paragraphs and stopped.

I knew I was on to something. My chapter 17 is a scene from Hell, literally.
I finished the first draft of it yesterday and will look at it again today when I finish work. Then, I'll run it by my critique group to gage reaction. I want to see if my description of hell, satan, and demons rings true. It does to me, but I don't only write for myself.

Now that I'm back on the horse, I feel much more confident I can do this. I can finish this manuscript. I wrote "Chapter 18" on my chalk board in the kitchen. And when that is done, I'll erase that and write "Chapter 19".
That's how I got through writing Saving Eden. Just seeing that number change every week, progressing toward the goal, kept me motivated.

No matter how slow the process. I could see for myself, I was getting there. If I write just one chapter a week. Which is pretty conservative. It only has to be a first draft, mind you. I will have the rough draft in about 5 months. That's not bad. I hope to average 2 a week so I can be done in 2-3 months and have an extra 2 months to edit. That's the real work anyway.

Well, now I've got 12 minutes to curl my hair, put my make-up and shoes on and get out the door to work. I'll make it to the OB clinic on time. Somehow, I always do. Hopefully, I'll have the same luck with my manuscript.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Party Over...Back to the Grind

Okay, I'm over the initial excitement of hearing there is interest in my second book. My optimism is waning as the task of writing a novel that may or may not sell is at hand.

I'm currently on chapter 17 out of what I guess will be about 40 chapters. 23 chapters left to write. That's pretty daunting.

But, I guess I'll write this one the same way I did the last one. One word at a time, one page at a time, one chapter at a time and so on.

I haven't heard from my agent so I'm not sure if he even received the ms I sent. I wonder did he get it? What did he think of it? Maybe I'll e-mail him and just make sure he got it. Otherwise, I'll spend the next 3 months wondering if it is floating around in cyberspace rather than on the editor's desk.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Wait Too Heavy to Bear? Nah....

I spent Friday evening and a few hours on Saturday morning reading through the partial MS for The Demon Chaser. I thought I'd be burning the midnight oil to get it off to the agent by Monday AM before I left for work. (I'm a registered nurse by day).

But alas, it was a breeze. I had forgotten I'd sent it through my very competent critique group and so it needed only minor adjustments. Hooray.

I e-mailed it off to the agent with a note that invited him to let me know if there was anything I could do to make his job easier.

And now, once again, time to wait. It may be months before I hear a thing. The most frustrating part of this business, in my opinion, is the endless waiting.

I send a query to an editor or agent and wait 3 months.

They like the query and request a proposal. Fantastic. I send it off and wait another 3 months.

They liked the proposal, please send the full ms. How exciting! I send it off and wait another 3 months.

They reject the ms. Back to "Go". And the process is repeated again and again, and yup, again.

It may be by the time I hear back from the editor on this MS that it is nearly finished. And that's the goal. I'm moving forward and going to treat this like it's a sale. I'm not a procrastinator and it scares me more than a little that I might get a contract and not meet a dead-line. I HATE to be late. Makes me absolutely freaky. I'm one of those people that needs to be at least 5 minutes early no matter what.

So, if I get a contract that states I've got 6 months to complete 300 more pages or so, that makes me nervous. I work full-time and have 2 small children. What if someone gets sick? What if I get writer's block? Yikes! So, starting today, time to move on with the next chapter.

It will be good to focus on something besides THE WAIT. After all, the longer it takes for the editor to make a decision, the longer I have to finish this book and make it sing.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Bite

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from my agent. (Still can't get used to saying that I even have an agent). He forwarded a correspondance he received from an editor. Basically the editor liked the proposal for my book and wants to know if I have anything more than the 3 sample chapters to send him. Uhhh...yeah.

Here's the kicker. The agent isn't interested in the ms that I just completed polishing and is finished page one to 340. He likes the one that's not written yet.

Am I complaining? No way.

I e-mailed the agent back and told him I've got 130 pages written. He states I should send 'em on. I, on the other hand, realized I've got one chance to get the editor excited enough about my writing to offer me a contract without the full ms written. So, I printed out my 130 pages and reread them over last night looking for areas that I could improve.

Happy day, it's pretty polished. Funny thing about a second ms, it doesn't need half as much work as a first try.

It had been so long since I read this ms since I've been working on the first, I actually saw it like a first time reader might. It's pretty good, I think. And definitely something I would buy.

Hopefully the editor feels the same way.

Interestingly enough. The interested editor is the same editor that came close to taking my first MS. So, if he ends up buying The Demon Chaser, I didn't actually need the agent to make the sale. I have a friendly relationship with this editor anyway and even before I had the agent, he told me to send the MS to him.

But, I'm still grateful to have this very connected and kind agent because he can negotiate the contract for me. And, God willing, there will be other books.

I'd like to concentrate on the writing and leave the headaches of contract negotiations, foreign rights and that type of thing to someone else.

So, there you have the update. Now at 6:30 am on a Saturday morning, while the rest of my neighborhood and household sleeps in, I giddily edit my partial MS.

As always, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

In the meantime...

I finished rewriting Saving Eden using the "magic paragraph" technique I learned from Ron Benrey at the writer's conference.

The MS is better.

I sent the thing, chapter by chapter to a couple of particularly talented writer friends and they critiqued it. I rewrote using their suggestions. So, now I'm done right? Wrong. But, you already knew that.

I printed out the full MS. All 340 pages and am reading the ding-dong thing...again.

You'd think after a hundred rewrites or so the thing would be error free. Nope. I've read to always do a final check for errors in hard copy form because for whatever reason our eyes tend to miss some typos on the computer screen.

I'm finding all kinds of little stuff. It's going fast though. I'm amazed that the book reads now, well, like a book. It's pretty good stuff. Every once in awhile I read something and think, that's really good and then it hits me that I actually wrote that. That's a good feeling.

The 2 writers that have read my ms in its entirety gave me a full critique of the book. Ouch. Didn't ask for it, but I'm grateful they did that. It's interesting that they didn't understand a few things that in my mind are clear. So, back through the ms "one more time" (yeah, right), to clear a few things up.

For instance, the 2 antagonists are a couple and they didn't come to the conclusion whether he actually loved her or not. I thought that was going to need a major rewrite to answer since it bothered them but on second thought, I'm going to add a couple of lines and have my protaganist simply ask, "don't you love her?" and have him just come right out with the answer. I'm learning to stop being so vague.

I love to think and so when I write, I use lots of symbolism and foreshadowing because I want the reader to say, "aha!" and have them see that the book has truths on more than just a surface level. The problem is, even my most brilliant friends rarely pick up on my symbols. So, sometimes I need to just come out with it. I'll still have the secret meanings under the surface for those who think that way, but most people do not.

And to be honest, unless someone points out the symbolism in a book, I tend to gloss over it too. Once in awhile I'll get something and that to me is a magic moment. I hope that sometimes a reader of mine will have one of those that really makes them stop to ponder.

Anyway, so that's what I'm doing. I e-mailed my agent. It has been close to 2 months since he said he'd try and land me a deal. I just kind of asked if he had gotten any response.

His reply, "Gina, I'm chasing demons to save Eden. Regrettably, these things take time." He told me he'd keep me posted.

I told him I wasn't trying to rush him just touching base.

So, I can rest assured he knows my MS titles (Demon Chaser and Saving Eden) at the very least and as always in this business, patience.

Good thing I'm not impatient. Alright, so I am. But, I'm getting better. I have no choice.

Friday, June 10, 2005

What's Up...

I have been working hard reediting my 1st novel, trying to incorporate all I learned from the writer's conference. I'm also sending it to a couple of my tougher critique partners for suggestions. Don't you know, they have plenty.

Today I shall, God willing, finish rewriting the last chapter. Hooray. Not quite as exciting as finishing the first draft. And not even as exciting as finishing the 20th rewrite but the book is better and the best I'm capable of at this time.

Once I've incorporated all my critique partner's suggestions, I will read through the complete MS again. Try my best to pretend I don't know what will happen to the characters and see if the story works better as a whole. To me, that's the fun part--Reading it cover to cover.

Then, I plan to e-mail my tenative agent and ask him what kind of response my proposals have gotten: good, bad, or ugly. I'll prepare for the worst but as always, hope for the best. I'll keep you posted.