Friday, February 15, 2008

Typos, Errors and Why :)

Y'all may have noticed that some of my blog posts aren't quite as clean as they should be--at least some of the more recent ones. I thought about just going in and fixing them, then I figured I would use this as a great topic for this morning's blog post ;)

I tend to blog first thing in the morning before I begin my work for the day. It's a neat way to sort of get the creative juices flowing and help my mind wake up--unfortunately, I'm still sort of half-asleep when I get here. I'm still working on the first cup of coffee and getting my daily bearings. So, the typos and errors are much more excessive than they would be later in my morning. Yet, that's not all of it.

Mostly, I wanted to show other writers that even us published authors have crappy first drafts ;)

I know that many aspiring authors look at their rough drafts and try to compare them to the works they're reading by their favorite authors. Of course, they aren't reading their favorite author's rough drafts though! And that seems to escape so many--and not just the perfectionists. I've worked with writers who just can't seem to get past the first chapter or so, always wanting to rewrite that beginning because it's not as perfect as they think it should be--either in the writing, or in the story choices. They think it needs more description (or less,) more dialogue (or less,) or it doesn't open soon enough (or too soon.)

If I were to wait until I had the perfect epiphany to say something deep and historically quotable before I blogged, I don't believe I'd ever post here (or to any of my blogs) ever again. Waiting for that sort of 'genius' to hit before one can move forward is to not understand that the 'genius' only reveals itself after reams of crappy writing ;) Like a recent commentator (Beth!) on my MySpace blog said recently--you have to mine for the gems :)

So, having said all that, I do realize the importance of having a polished and well written (or at least error free) thought when sharing with the public in any written form. While I may not be altering my previous posts, I will be making the effort to edit and make the following ones much easier for human consumption :)

If I didn't take the time to edit, what sort of writer would I be? :) Of course, all of this would be easier if I could just get my fabulous editor (Shout Out to Kat!) to follow me around and fix my messes--but unfortunately, I think she's a bit busy with full-length novels ;)

Let me know what you think. How important is editing for blogs, emails, etc.?


Monday, February 11, 2008

What I find hard about Writing

All sorts of problems present themselves to us authors over the course of a book. Research, knowing the craft, time management, and getting from page one to the very end--at least three times before it's worthy of sharing with anyone else.

For me, the hardest part seems to be the editing. No, I'm not talking about that first polish--I actually enjoy that step. I love taking my raw and rough story and playing with the word choices, the character's inner thoughts, inserting humor or angst where necessary and really just breathing life into the characters and plot. I'm talking about reading it three, maybe four times in a row looking for typos and/or grammar issues. That's the part where I get bleary eyed ;) I think this is why I strive so very hard to perfect as much as humanly possible on that first draft following the rough draft. I know that my last books have taken less time for my editor and I to get through than the earlier books--which is a blessing becuase by the time the book is ready to go to print, I'm almost sick of it.

Of course, there are those moments that I look forward to reading again (no matter how many times I've gone through them before) so that takes the sting out just a little.

For you non-writers who read my blog, imagine it this way:

You find you're favorite restaurant. You love one particular dish on the meal. You dine there once a week to begin with. Then, by the end of the first month, you're forced to eat that fabulous meal--for every single meal for an entire week.

Even though it's your favorite dish, by the end of that week, you might be ready to switch it up some and try a few other meals in there. It doesn't mean you don't like your "most favoritist meal" ever--it just means you need variety.

That's what happens to me. By the time the editing is done and over with, I'm sooooo ready to move on to the next project and start devoting all my time to that book.

Right now, since the Knight Inc. series has been completed, I'm preparing to write my YA series "Extreme Hauntings: The Kaylee Adventure Series" (working title) and dust off my infamous werewolf novel and see if I can't garner some more attention for it after I'm done with the rewrite.

Let me know what you find particularly difficult about writing, or what gripes you about reading :)


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Query Letter Template

Hi everyone! ;)

Query letters are notoriously difficult to write if you've never done one before. This is a simple template that I've used with great success. (The first query I ever wrote garnered requests for partials and fulls 80% of the time. Very exciting back when I was still an aspiring author.)

Here's the template:

1) Greeting: Always include the *real* name of the person you're targeting. No "dear editor" or "to whom it may concern." Call and get the name of the person if you can't find it or are unsure if that person is still with the agency or publisher you're querying.

2) Introductory paragraph: Include the title of your book, the word count, the genre and the possible market. "My 100,000 word novel "Bringing Sexy Back" will appeal to pop culture fans who enjoy reading about Paris Hilton in the tabloids."

3) Summary paragraph: This should be one paragraph, very much like a back cover blurb or the summary you would find on a jacket flap. Write as if you were creating an advertising slogan--punchy prose and exciting verbiage. Be sure it's clear and compelling.

4) Personal paragraph: Describe yourself and the reason you're the best author to write this book. Include any noteworthy writing credentials you have. (Sharing that you've been published by isn't noteworthy--but having a short story in an anthology or magazine is.) Any awards you've won, any past working experience you've had related to the book, these can showcase what you bring to the book to make it all the more appealing. (For instance, "Aside from three years working with the paparazzi, I am the moderator of the largest fan blog for Britney Spears and for three years, have guest blogged at many related sites, including the fan blogs of Lindsey Lohan and Nicole Ritchie.")

5)Closing paragraph: Mention what you have included with the query--always making sure it suits their guidelines. For instance, if they say it's acceptable to send the first three chapters straight away, then include that. Otherwise, simply state: "The full manuscript "Bringing Sexy Back" is complete and available on request. I've included an SASE for your convience and look forward to your response. Thank you for your consideration."

When you've gotten this all down, edited, read alound, corrected, and as perfect as humanly possible, sign your name and begin submitting! ;)

If you decide to use this template, share your query here in the comments and let us know how it went for you ;)


Monday, February 04, 2008

Shamed into Blogging Again ;)

I could give a litany of excuses and reasons why I have neglected my blog for so long--all of them would be familiar to any number of my readers--but alas, none would truly be good enough.

Illness, a son with a broken knee, missed deadlines, an extremely difficult project, the holidays, etc. You name it, it's probably on the list.

But, while attending Love is Murder this weekend in Chicago, I joined a panel about internet marketing. Of course, the first (and only) direct question I was asked turned out to be: "How often do you blog?"

This was supposed to be my shining moment where I get to set a wonderful example and explain how I blog every other day, keep my information up to date, and have built a following.


Needless to say, I had to respond with, "I'm probably not the best person to answer that question..." Which of course made me look like a dufus.

So, in the end, I had to ask myself--what advice would I give someone in my same predicament?

It's never too late to start blogging--again, in my case ;)

I'm back--and I'm determined to never again have to struggle with that question again :)

I've also got some wonderful plans to make it impossible for me to leave my blog(s) alone for any length of time whatsoever. It's time that I started giving back to the literary community that has offered me so much over the course of the last eight years. I'll be offering contests, free critiques, and reader bonanza's you won't want to miss!!

It's good to be home again!