Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Editing

You’re Not Working Hard Enough.

Via Warriorforum.com

Like many writers, I have spent the last few years trying to ‘do it all.’ Whether I’m drafting another blog post, tinkering with Twitter, shouting out to writers on Triberr, checking my Facebook profile, posting on my Facebook author page, pinning on Pinterest, reading the dozens of emails I receive daily, or finishing my novel revisions, everyday is filled to the rim. In my mind, the most important of these is my novel. It’s the reason for everything else. Yet everything else seems to overwhelm it most of the time.

read all day long, in one form or another. In order to write well, you must read. A lot. Preferably in your genre, although reading in general is the point. I try to stay current with the latest books, all the advice on book marketing, social media reach, blog hits, and on and on. It’s endless.

via pinterest.com

Yesterday I read an article that stated people aren’t reading less in the digital age, instead people are actually reading more. Wanting more. More to download. More, more, more. Readers want books NOW. How are they reading them all? Who knows.

What it means for writers is what concerns me. Many authors are now attempting to hammer out three….four, five books a year to stay in the game.

WHAT?!

The industry standard has forever been…one book per year.

ONE. Maybe.

But with the introduction, and popularity, of ereaders the standard is changing. Rapidly.

For me, and many others, that’s an issue. Besides the fact that I write at turtle speed, and revise at snail, I’ve worked myself to near exhaustion trying to do everything, and be everywhere. How are we supposed to do it all? We can’t. And we shouldn’t try to either.

Balance is the key.

I’ve talked about balance a lot in prior posts, but I didn’t know how to attain it. I’ve had to force myself to step back, and breathe. Step back and realize that NO ONE can do it all, and do it well. Not going to happen. Not for long anyway. I still believe that through all the chatter and advice, all the constant information flying everywhere, that our main goal as writers should be creating good content.

We can market until we are blue in the face and crawling. Put our names out everywhere and brand until everyone knows it. But none of that will matter if our books suck. Writing is hard enough without trying to master social media.

W. Somerset Maugham
Via zazzle.com

I know we as writers are a helpful and supportive group. We want to help each other succeed. We want to feel like someone else gets it, and we aren’t wandering around alone searching for answers in the dark. So we read everything, follow a hundred blogs, and basically overwhelm ourselves with information. Not the best mindset to have when we are trying to write an 80,000 word novel.

Slow down. Really.

I don’t have this thing figured out either, but it occurs to me that a few things are obvious.

**Write your books and write them well. No good book—no reason for social media.

**Write your blog posts, tweet your shout outs, engage. But put a time limit on it.

**Back to writing.

Remember the reason why you are doing all of this. Is it to write stories? To get lost in those worlds? Yeah? Go get lost then, and create the best worlds you can.

The other stuff at the end of the day is secondary. Important, yes, but still secondary.

So tell me, what part of this industry have you found the most difficult?

**first posted in May 2012 before I landed the book contract, so let’s add that once thrown into the mix, things got busier. The difference? Now, I feel like everything else finally matters. 😉


What’s In An Editor? (Why Do I Sound Like An Adult?)

I tend to scribble a lot

I tend to scribble a lot (Photo credit: Unhindered by Talent)

Young Adult fantasy novels are my first go-to on reading shelves. My first love of books in general. I write them too. Pretty well, I think. At least in content, anyway. 🙂 Sometimes, however, “Laney, YA writer” gets crossed with “Laney … well, Laney.”

Why do I sound like an adult sometimes when I write? Besides the fact that I am one, I get caught up in the flurry of the story–action scenes, love scenes– and I occasionally forget contractions and ‘teen speak’, as my editor calls it. When I’m on a writing roll, I write what I see in my head. The words kind of disappear. Strange? Maybe so.

Stories read like moving pictures for me. Like a blur of color. My editor slows the view down so I can see what’s staring back at me from the screen. It’s an invaluable tool.

Writers need editor’s eyes. They are programmed to see what we miss. Although, sometimes it may feel nit picky or overwhelming–we need to use it, learn from it.

My story reads tighter, cleaner … better. As far as I’m concerned, the frustration that can come from full-blown edits are worth every ounce of hair pulling and head banging. The goal is to produce the best story I can. Even if that means cringing every time I open a document to find blue ink covering my pages. 😉


What’s In An Editor?

Grammar police

Grammar police (Photo credit: the_munificent_sasquatch)

An interesting thing happens when you work with an editor. You are quickly reminded (or I am) that although you may be a good storyteller and okay grammatically, becoming a terrific storyteller and a grammatical whiz, is quite another animal. Patience reigns. Glad my editor has a lot of it. 😉

WRITE ON, WRITERS!

** The homonym police got me…. reins vs. reigns. See what I mean about editing? Thanks, Carol. 😉


Letting Go Of Your Novel

Bird in Flight

Bird in Flight (Photo credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent))

Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity (Thank You!) knows that I’ve been working on my novel for two years. Two years full of a wide swing of emotions. Now, as I am officially on submission, I feel…uneasy. Anxious. A little bit afraid.

For the first time, I’m nervous about simply letting it go.

When I started working on my cover art, I felt excited. When I received the first layout, my heart skipped. Mine. My words. My name.

The second layout was similar. The fourth and fifth layouts had me feeling downright overwhelmed.

When my first wave of edits rolled in, I thought, okay, this is doable. Not so bad. When the second wave of fine toothed edits came over with suggestions and corrections everywhere, I panicked.

Oh my god. I’m actually doing this? 

All those little insecurities welled up again and sat there on my shoulder, taunting me.

This wasn’t the plan, you know. You were just writing….just writing. Like always. Are you sure you want to do this? You can back out. Keep this story tucked away like all the other ones. No one has to know!

Overreacting. All part of the process. I get it. I am supposed to be putting all my efforts toward TORN, the second book in the series. I am supposed to submit the first book, forget about it, and move to the next. I know.

But…this is hard.

Just saying.


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 4

Look right

Look right (Photo credit: dlombardia)

“You look like you just rolled out of bed.”

….leaving a lake-like gleam across the surface of the ocean.

“She doesn’t like you.”

“It felt like….”

Apparently, I really like the word, LIKE.

Like is a weak word writers use as a crutch. A crutch to tell rather than show readers what our characters are seeing, feeling, experiencing. It’s a lazy word. I was shocked to discover how many times I’d used it in my MS. Shocked.

Beta readers see what we, in a flurry of writing excitement (or drudgery), sometimes miss.

** I also like (see, I did it again!) the word AS. Oh, and felt. Yeah, felt. The worst!

SHOW DON’T TELL.;)

What’s In A Beta Reader?

What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2

What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3

Expressions.

“So jump,” he sneered up at me.

Apparently one of my characters sneers a lot. Who knew? My beta pointed out that unless I meant for him to be laughing at the MC with contempt, maybe I should reword it.

SNEER: To smile or laugh with facial contortions that express scorn or contempt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ouch… Um, no, that was not my intent. At all.

Sometimes, it’s better to stick with said.

*related posts: ** What’s In A Beta Reader?

**What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2


Revisions. Listen to the Voice.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve logged in hours revising your novel, and then it dawns on you that you have to scrap chunks of it?

Yeah, I’m there.

I wanted to label it as a block. Pin it down to being “brain tired.” Chalk it up to, “I’ve been working on this piece too long, so now I’m just sick of it.”

Revision notes

Revision notes (Photo credit: jez`)

Reality?

That little voice in my head, the one that helps guide me down these cray writing roads I find myself on, that voice told me something was wrong. And it wasn’t because I was too tired, or blocked. It wasn’t because my story was too ingrained, or that I was sick of it. The voice stopped me in my revision tracks because something was wrong.

Scrap is a harsh word. Rewrite is a more appropriate one, and something I had not anticipated needing to do. But as I’ve said before, sometimes the story simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the ideas in your head don’t play out on paper in the grand scheme. Sometimes you need to rewrite a few chunks, so the rest of the chunks, work.

Listen to your voice. It doesn’t lie, and it won’t lead you astray. If something in your story doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.


Don’t Stop

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

No matter how hard it gets, how overwhelmed you feel, keep going. You will get there. 

WRITE ON, WRITERS!