Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Latest Fork in My Path

The word is out, I have accepted an Associate Editor position with the new and upcoming press out of New York, City Owl Press. Don't worry, I'm not about to stop writing~ever~I'm just putting my education to good use and expanding my horizons. I've always loved helping other writers and now I get to do it in the most amazing way.

To hear more about City Owl, you can check out the announcement here. And to find out what I'm looking for, you can find my wish list on Manuscript Wish List (coming soon). Got great sci-fi/fantasy with romantic elements? Bring it on.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

To Outline or Not to Outline

To use an outline or not to use an outline? I used to be vehemently opposed to them, I thought they limited my creativity like lines on a paint by number canvas. Boy was I wrong. I was forced to face the truth when I went to a retreat and my teacher made us write an outline. My book was finished I didn't see why I needed to write one, it made no sense. But I was there to learn and the man had been on the NY Times bestseller list several times, which made him hard to argue with. So I bowed to his expertise and wrote it, following my already existing manuscript of course.

Halfway through I realized there were many problems with my story. A story which I had already sent to an agent to read. I was appalled and embarassed that I had made such mistakes. I never would have found them had I not wrote that outline. Things like, too many fight scenes (WAY too many), unresolved lines of plot, digressing from the plot, big things! I was lucky, the agent took me on. But guess what he suggested I change? Yep, all those issues my outline drew attention to. I could have saved myself and him a huge headache. I learned my lesson.

So, how to outline? That's a tougher question to answer. I start with the old roman numeral way headlining it with the chapter details. Then I'll go beneath that roman numeral with subsections of things that I want happening in that chapter. The next roman numeral would be the next chapter and so on. You'll be surprised what it will reveal about your book to you! My writing is flowing along easily with this method, and editing is a breeze compared to how it used to be. I'll never go back to the old way! What about you, do you write an outline?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How To Land an Agent, or Two

"OMG, you have TWO agents?! How in the world did you manage that?"

I get this question a lot. The first part of the answer I got from a mentor of mine who is a NY Times Bestselling author: Write a great book. Sounds easy enough right?! Hah, don't we wish.

Next you have to do your research and pick agents that represent the kind of book you've written. There are some great websites that allow you to search for agents based on what they represent. There is also a book put out every year called Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents, its fantastic. If you can attend conferences, I highly recommend that because meeting an agent in person gives you a much better feel for who they are and how they might work than any amount of writing on a website ever will.

Enter contests, both of the pitching variety you see on Twitter and blogs and especially at conferences and workshops. That is how I landed my two agents. My novel was runner up in a contest at a conference and they both loved it so much, they offered dual representation.

Now you need to write a great query letter. They're hard. There are lots of formulas out there that can help guide you, but the bottom line is that you have to learn to sell your story. Problem, stakes, resolution. Get those in and you're off to a good start.

Next write that synopsis, some agents will ask for it with the query letter, some after they've read your query letter and become interested. A synopsis should read somewhat like the inside cover of your book. You'll add a little more info than you would on the cover of your book, a little more of the meat of the story that you want to tell an agent but wouldn't necessarily reveal to a potential reader.

Then, cross your fingers, pray, meditate, do whatever it is that helps because it could be a long wait. While you're waiting write your next book, and keep improving your writing skills.

Best of luck!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Making Revision Fun

From that title you're probably already thinking I'm crazy. Well, I am a bit perhaps. But that's beside the point. Revision can be fun, if you did your job with the rough draft, and by that, I mean lined out the character arcs and did a rough outline. It helps eliminate plot holes and dead spots.

When the last word is written we all know the book is far from finished. If you're dreading the revision process it's going to suck because you've already set it up to. However, if you look at it as an opportunity to enrich your novel and add depth and dimension to it, then the process can be fun if you've done your prep work.

I'm horrible about setting it aside, but this must be done. I do my best not look at it for at least a week. If you can go longer do so. And I applaud you if you can. I cannot because I love the revision process and that's like putting a non-fat double tall hazelnut mocha in front of me and saying, 'don't drink it.' This part is important because you have to remove yourself from the story so you can come back to it with fresh eyes.

Here is my process:

  • Character arc read through and fix. Not just the main character, but the supporting ones as well. I refer back to the character arc line I wrote prior to starting the novel to do this.
  • Plot hole/thread tying read through and fix. I refer to my outline while doing this. 
  • Flow and pacing read through. Using my outline, I check my WIP to see which chapters are action and which aren't to ensure the pace is even and doesn't stall out. 
  • Voice. I read through to ensure the characters 'voices' all remain the same and are unique. 
  • Grammar and structure. I do a final read through to ensure the grammar is good and the sentence structures are all smooth and varying.
  • Read aloud. You can catch all manner of things this way and I highly recommend it.  

After all that, and only after all that, I finally send it on to my beta readers. However you do it and wherever, enjoy the whole journey. Join us tonight at 6:00 pm PST for a chat on editing tonight on Twitter with the #WritersRoad hashtag.