Thursday, August 19, 2010

The submission process begins! My goal was to get to this point by the end of summer, and school starts next week. I've heard back from most of my critiquers, made some revisions, and feel comfortable sending it off now. I can always make more changes later. It's funny how each critiquer made good suggestions, yet none came up with the same thing.

They say that when you send off a submission, it's time to start working on something else. Not sure that I really want to, but I will admit that I've been thinking about ideas for the next sequel. I have two scenarios in mind and am not sure yet which one I'd want to write next. One would take place the next spring, one the next summer. Naturally the spring scenario would come before the summer one, but I have more ideas for the summer one. What to do?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Yep, I finished the sequel today! I've been so excited the last week or two, knowing how close I was, but I kept getting subbing jobs every day. I knew if I could just get a couple days to myself, I could do it. I couldn't write the last little bit in the evenings because I needed a quiet empty house to concentrate and "hear" what my characters were saying and thinking.

I've been thinking lately how funny it is that even though I know the plot and how my story will end, I don't know the details until I write them. And I don't write them until I put my characters in a situation, then watch them and listen to them--then I write it down. First you create believable characters, then you get to know them, then you put them in situations and see what happens. Sometimes they come up with the darned-est things. And sometimes I have to egg them on a little to get them going.

As I read my Bible, I see parallels to how God works. As a writer, I'm kind of playing "God." He's got a Big Plan (the plot) and various themes and sub-themes, which will work out the way He has planned, but within that plan, He gives us free will. And everything we choose ends up fitting into His Big Plan! (Unlike me, God doesn't have to wait to find out what His characters will choose to do--He already knows that, as well as the ending.)

Another thing I've been thinking about that relates to writing is working puzzles. I recently got some new bigger puzzles for my grandkids, and worked a few with them. I have always loved jigsaw puzzles, as well as crossword puzzles. I think perhaps working puzzles trains the brain to think in ways that help a writer: to look for and find seemingly unrelated things that might fit together, to foreshadow, to patiently work a little here and a little there on various themes and plot lines that will eventually converge.

So what do you think I'll do, now that I got to the end today? Do you think I'll kick back and take a break from writing? Give myself a party? Send it right off to a publisher? Start a new story? Guess again...every school kid should know the answer:

Rewrite! Edit! Polish! I'll go back to the beginning and read through (preferably out loud), looking for ways I can change passive voice to active voice. Looking for dull, overworked words that can be replaced with more interesting, active, descriptive words. Looking for awkward, wordy sentences that can be reworded or pared down. I do a little of this while writing, and while doing what rereading I've done. But if I see something I'm not satisfied with and can't think of a quick improvement, I don't let myself get bogged down there when I'd rather spend my limited time getting the whole story finished. I often just "bold" a word or sentence I want to rework so I can easily spot it later.

A writer needs to be able to separate her roles as creator and critic. Both roles are necessary, but should operate separately. First you create, then you critique your work. I do have a few people who are interested in reading and critiquing this story, providing some outside feedback. In the past I've been in critique groups, so I relied on others to point out what could be improved. I don't have one now, but hopefully I have learned enough from past groups, and from my experience working with the editor and publisher of The Orange Slipknot, that I can see my own work more objectively now and make improvements.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just when I really had some good momentum going, a series of bumps, curves and distractions got in the way. When I've got too much going on, writing is not my priority. So I'm confessing that, unfortunately, I've written very little since the first of the year.

Fortunately, I had some opportunities to market and sell books and do a couple presentations. I had a display table at a local event for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I almost backed out of my presentation on Nevada's ranching history at the Nevada Reading Week Conference in Reno; I had been down for 4 days with a fever, but fortunately it broke the night before--thank goodness for Advil.

Now to overcome inertia and get that momentum going again. I've slowly been getting back into writing the last couple weeks. The better I feel, the more I feel like writing. Still coughing but back to work...everyone's telling me this may hang on for weeks yet...