Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “editing

What’s In Being A Contracted Author?

Our computers

Our computers (Photo credit: aranarth)

Fear.

Yep, I said that.

Getting a publishing contract is everything you’ve wanted, everything you’ve worked your ass off for, and when you sign on the dotted line, everything you’re afraid of.

It’s a truth I think a lot of authors keep under wraps because some days when you sit staring at your story, the one that has a deadline attached to it now, the one that needs to be as close to perfect as you can make it—some days, it can feel like you’ve signed yourself up to fail. The days when nothing makes sense and you wonder who in their right mind, including yourself, ever thought your story could actually sell. The days when fear seeps in and hangs on.

From the legalese of contracts, to the swell of accomplishment in your chest that is almost immediately replaced by the tightening of panic, to the real edits and real deadlines, being a contracted, and soon to be published, author is both thrilling and terrifying.

But, in those split seconds when rays of light shine through the blinds in your mind, it is incredibly gratifying. The times when, for once, there are no blue, red, or green edits marking up your pages and your comments come back with “Great!” instead of “Huh?” or “Powerful.” instead of “Make it clearer.” Those are the days when every drop of doubt and ounce of fear is worth it. The days when you’re proud as hell. Maybe they’re far and few between, but those rays of light keep the writing fire burning bright and remind you that you should feel proud, maybe even excited–even if only for a second. 😉

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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? Part 2. (How Do You Feel?)

Pre-Final edits are in full swing, so forgive my sporadic blog posts of late. The writing pendulum is searching for the mid-point.

Turns out real editing with changes and revisions takes a while. Add in a deadline and … yeah, it’s a time stretch. With that in mind, I’m continuing my What’s In An Editor post series (a spin-off of What’s In A Beta Reader). And since I’m new to the editing game, it will be a work in progress. Here we go:

I keep asking myself, “How would you feel?” Or, “What does that look like?”

Feelings are hard to write. For me. Well, I should reword. Feelings are hard to show in my writing. It’s a point of head banging lately. Rewriting sections to show instead of tell. Showing say … scrutiny, for example, causes my head to ache. How would I show scrutiny? It’s a good question. One that I’m working on.

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi is an invaluable tool. One that I use from time to time (more often lately). It doesn’t, however, give a writer all the answers. It simply leads them a bit farther down the ‘expressive’ path. After that, showing is still in the mind of the writer. Showing without repetition … harder still.

I’ll move back to my example. The sentence I needed to alter per my editor was this one: I scrutinized both of them. 

So, how do I show scrutiny?

Here’s the definition: A critical observation or examination.

I could have my character shake his/her head, but I do a lot of head shaking (it’s an easy and probably overdone fix).  I could have a disbelieving eye roll (also a bit overdone even though I like eye rolling). How about narrowing eyes? That works. When we are skeptical of someone’s behavior we narrow our eyes in disbelief.

Still, it’s a crap shoot. Seeing eye to eye on every little detail is unlikely when it comes to editing, but your words should feel right. Put yourself in your characters shoes and ask yourself, “How do I feel?”

Nobody said editing would be easy.

WRITE ON, WRITERS!


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


What’s in a Beta Reader? Part 2

My eye

My eye (Photo credit: neuroticcamel)

“I rolled my eyes around the room, searching for her.”

My beta red-flagged this sentence, and made her remarks in the margins.

“Unless your MC is physically removing her eyes from their sockets, she can’t roll them around the room. Or is that what you mean? Can she?”

Um, no.

No, she cannot physically remove her eyeballs, and roll them around the room. I had to laugh, and then rewrite the sentence. These are the tiny errors that we as writers, all caught up in our story, usually miss.

I write fantasy, so the MC removing her eyeballs from their sockets wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But, no, she can’t. Nor is that what I meant to say.

I meant to say that she gazed around the room. Looked around the room. Eyed the room.

Our betas are useful for finding a wide array of issues. This was one of my funnier ones. They aren’t always funny. But that is something to keep in mind when reading comments from a beta (or proofreader, or editor). Humor. Don’t hold so tightly to your story that you become blinded by what others tell you is wrong. They are supposed to find problems. And we are supposed to fix them.

Have you tried to roll your eyes across the room lately?

WRITE ON!

*Related Posts: What’s In A Beta Reader?


What’s in a Beta Reader?

Everything.

Writing

It took about four months before I mustered up the courage to let anyone read the first chapters of my current novel. That was back in August of 2010. I’d been writing since April of that year, and my book was nowhere–and I mean nowhere–near ready for viewing. Even if that viewer was my mom. Now, I realize that everyone says they let their mom read their book first because, of course, our mothers will go easy on us if it sucks. Not my mom. I’m not saying she flat-out told me it was awful, but she didn’t tell me what I was hoping to hear either.

I wanted my mom to read it first because I needed real feedback from an avid reader. My mom also happens to do a lot of editing. The first reviews weren’t good. Looking back, she was 100% correct. The book was a fledgling written by a poet and short story dabbler, not a seasoned novelist.

I tucked my tail between my legs, swallowed my pride, and listened to everything she had to say. And then I used it all. I studied and researched and let the ideas in my head germinate and flow.  I wrote and I wrote until I was sick of it. Until I almost gave up.

It has been a year and a half since that time and my novel has gone through at least eight drafts. Easily. After I’d tweaked, edited, hated it, and loved it, I put it back in my moms possession. And cringed a little.

I have three beta readers now, all doing slightly different things, all slightly different viewpoints, coming from different genre preferences and widely different age groups. I think the wide scope is necessary for a real perspective. I was terrified to let my words, my characters–my world, go. Everything in those pages is me. Everything in all our books as writers, is us. Our imagination, our thoughts—our creation. What if my betas hated my story? What would that say about me? I let it go, despite my trepidation, and faced the fear.

If they did hate the story, if my characters were whack and my voice was worse–I kind of needed to know.

What’s in a Beta Reader? If you’re lucky, a trusted reader who will give it to you straight.

I waited a long time after the initial beta read back in 2010 to release my chapters again. I was afraid to hear the critiques–to hear I wasn’t any good after close to two years of sweat and tears. But how would I ever know, if I was too afraid to let go? And if I was awful at writing novels, well…there was only one way to change that— keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting myself out there.

What’s in a Beta Reader? Your audience. Who without, you have no readership. So ask yourself, who are you writing for? I can say with all my heart, I write for myself. But when you decide to go live, and publish your work, that changes a bit. I write because I love it. And somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do more than write stories to myself. So, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t also writing for my readers. And they, as well as I, deserve the best book I can put out. That’s where the Betas come in 😉

WRITE ON!


I’m Finished

I accomplished what I set out to do: I finished my novel. YAY ME!

Truly, I’m thrilled. On so many levels. There were several times I considered walking away, considered I was totally wasting my time, considered I wasn’t any good. I’ll say right now with full gumption, that it’s been a long time since I have been so proud of myself. I’m almost giddy. Even if it sucks–I love that I wrote it, love that I had the courage to finish it and love that I put myself out there.

I am so relieved to say and so I have to say it out loud, “I’M DONE!” Ok.  I realize that once I’m brave enough to send it off for editing, I’ll be on pins and needles, likely vomiting from anxiety. And yes, I realize to that I will likely, no, I will most definitely, have a lot to fix and scrap. I also know that the story itself might suck.

BUT…! In spite of all of theses factors, I am thrilled that I completed what I started. An 80,000 word novel. A novel that, regardless of where it goes, or the response it receives, I am proud of.

What was many times a hair pulling, pacing and screaming affair, has in the end, been completely worth every doubt I had about whether to keep going or walk away. In the end, I was too ingrained to leave it.

So now, I have begun #2 in the series and will allow #1 to sit tucked away unseen and untouched to stew before facing judgement day. Then I shall bow it down to the editors feet and allow the fear and loathing phase to commence;)


The Grind

Back to the grindstone. That’s code for editing. When in doubt about what you’re trying to write and banging your head against the wall doesn’t help anymore, edit a different work in progress!

Step 1. Reread, again.

Step 2. Cut and rewrite, again.

Step 3. Repeat, again.

Step 4. Question everything.

Step 5. Ditch it and create random blog entries.

Ding, Ding, Ding….I choose number 5.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone! 


The countdown begins.

   calendar April 10

Today is the day. 9 days and counting. The 19th will mark one year since starting my novel. Although I would love to say that my one year mark will also mark my completion date, I can’t. I’m trying to find solace in the fact that numerous writers have taken years to finish their first novel. And of course the obvious fact of having it done right rather than just having it done. Happy 9 Days to go to me.