Month: January 2013 Page 1 of 2

Am I Crazy?

I just decided to re-write the first four chapters of The Unravelling AGAIN. For those of you keeping track, this will be the fourth time.

My biggest issue with the way the first third of the book unfolds is that it takes too long to get to the pivotal event, the scene which sets the whole rest of the series in motion. Right now it happens at the end of chapter SIX, a whole quarter of the way into a 100,000-word book. Yes there are events leading up to it that are important for the story as a whole, and there’s definitely some suspense building up to that point, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like a lot of it could go without any loss to the story arc.

My first three revisions I chopped about 8,000 words from those six chapters, and I’m going to aim for at least 5,000 more. It will mean sacrificing two characters that I really like a lot, which makes me a bit sad. They will cease to exist entirely, other than the briefest of mentions. Which leads me to the question, how many characters is too few?

I could also just be second-guessing myself, wondering if I’m really ready to move forward. So far the only person who’s read it and thought it was slow to get to that life-changing event is… me. But then none of my friends or family are editors, more’s the pity.

I’m going to play around with it a bit and see if I like the new revision idea. It can’t hurt, right? Even now I’m thinking of compromises that will allow me to keep my two secondary characters but still shorten that first act. Bring out the pruning shears.

Six Sentence Sunday

I heard Dane step into the bathroom and a moment later felt his hands on my shoulders. I was surprised when he turned me around and pulled me gently into his chest. For a moment I froze, mentally assessing where all my uncovered skin was and whether it might come into contact with his own, but when a few seconds passed and nothing happened, I sagged into him.

“It’s not fair,” I said, my voice muffled by his shirt. It was rapidly soaking through with my tears. “I didn’t do anything to provoke this, people shouldn’t be dying because of me.”


Check out Six Sentence Sunday for more entries! This is the last list being run by the website. It’s been a pleasure to participate!

Relationship Outlines: The Download

Last month I wrote this post containing some questions to build a relationship outline between two characters. I’ve now inputted all that information into a spreadsheet that you can download to make it easier to fill out yourself!

View and download the Fiction Writing: Relationship Outline spreadsheet here. (link will take you to a public Google spreadsheet you can copy into Google Drive or download into Excel or Open Office) You can even add your characters’ names and have them self-populate into the questions!

I hope people will use it and find it helpful. Please share it with your writer friends! 🙂

First, Probably Not The Last

I got my first form rejection today. Last autumn I submitted my book to Harper Voyager’s open call for unpublished works, a month after I’d finished the first draft.

I was surprised at how not-upset I was. I’m notoriously thin-skinned, after all. I take very nearly everything personally.

I fully expected rejection. Thousands upon thousands of people were submitting, and I rushed through editing my first draft in order to get it in on time. I also wrote my first query letter with absolutely no research beforehand. “Still,” I thought, “I’ll be sad when that rejection comes.”

I totally wasn’t. It was a very nice form rejection, actually. It didn’t say my book sucks. It didn’t say I’m a terrible writer. It didn’t suggest a career change. And so I feel emboldened, ready to try again somewhere else, with something that’s changed so much from what I enclosed in October.

I may be singing a different tune when I have a hundred form rejections under my belt (although let’s be optimistic and assume I’ll never amass that many), but for now, I’m actually weirdly proud of that rejection letter. It means I submitted my book in the first place. That’s kind of a really big deal for me.

The Last Six

I just learned that Six Sentence Sunday is holding its last list of contributors this Sunday the 27th. I’m sad, for it was a lot of fun to choose my favourite six of the week when I was writing The Unravelling and the kind feedback from my posts helped me to be more confident in sharing my work.

I’ll be posting six sentences from The Unseeing this Sunday, and may keep up with the tradition even though the official list isn’t being managed anymore. I’m grateful I was able to participate as much as I did!

Tonight’s Beverage of Choice

My thing these days is tea. I drink it every day, usually with a bit of honey. I actually blame one of my characters for my tea obsession. Funny how that goes.

Before tea though, my thing used to be lattes, and I would drink one of those every day. Creamy goodness.

I give you now, THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS.

  • 1.5 c whole milk (not skim or 1% or 2%. WHOLE MILK WITH THE FAT. Yes it’s going to be a thousand calories but yes it’s going to be worth it)
  • 2 T hot chocolate powder (Cocoa Camino or similar quality. Keep your filthy Nesquik away from me)
  • 2 T coconut milk (the solid type from a can, not liquid)
  • 1 chai teabag

Put the teabag in the bottom of your oversize mug. Drop the dollop of coconut milk on top of it so it stays at the bottom. Add the hot chocolate powder and then fill the mug with steamed milk. DO NOT STIR. Walk away for five minutes and let it find its own path to oneness. When you return, the coconut milk should have melted into the rest of the liquid. Now you can give it a bit of a stir if it needs it. Leave the tea bag in the drink.

Experience Nirvana.

You’re welcome.

Sequel Sorrows

I got myself all set up to start writing the next book in my series today, and already I find myself stymied. How much explanation do I have to give of the previous book’s events at the beginning of this one? Do I assume that readers have read the first installation and skip all the details, or do I have to give a blow-by-blow recounting of everything in The Unravelling? I mean, people don’t just jump straight to the second book in a series, do they? And writing in the first person complicates it further, for me anyway. I don’t want it to feel like Callie’s saying, “now sit down, little reader, and let me tell you about everything that just happened. We’ll get to the exciting new parts in a bit.”

I suppose the best thing to do is to go back and have a look at the first chapters of books beyond the first in some of my favourite series, and see how they handle it. I have a bit of reading to do. And I was all psyched up to start writing today too!


There’s a Temple Run 2 out now?

Forget all that shit I said about productivity and goals. I have monkeys to evade.

And Away She Goes

I sent off my first query last night, after the eleventy-first revision. I think I like it. Just to be 110% sure, though, I sent it to the Query Shark. Hopefully I’ll be chosen for evisceration. I’ve also decided this fulfills my goal to send out my first letter by the end of January and my new plan, after some helpful advice I read on another blog (Query Quagmire I think?) is to wait until March-ish to start querying in earnest, since apparently many, many people who are either post-NaNo or fulfilling New Year’s resolutions are also querying right now. I’d rather wait until things settle down a bit and there aren’t so many fish in the water.

In the meantime, I was rudely awoken at an ungodly hour this morning (okay, 7:00, but I’m a special little princess who likes her beauty sleep) with a bit of an idea to add to The Unseeing. In adding it to my outline, I gave the rest of it a quick skim and got excited all over again to begin writing. There’s so much going on! I can definitely see myself starting writing for real this weekend, if not tonight.

I’ve also decided I deserve to have my own writing space. Right now, my “office” is the couch in the basement rec room, a few feet away from our only TV, and the majority of the kids’ toys. So if I want to work, I have to ensure that the kids aren’t around (really, only when they’re sleeping) and that my extremely understanding husband doesn’t want to watch TV. It’s also cold as hell down there and kind of dark because there aren’t any windows. At first I wanted to build a nice loft office above the garage, but that doesn’t look feasible based on the way the garage was constructed. So now I think I want one of these: minus the kitchen and trailer, but definitely with the loft. There’s a nice corner in my backyard where I think it would fit perfectly, and I bet I could build one on the cheap with salvaged materials. It would make a nice spring project, because I don’t have enough on my plate already…

It’s nice to have things to look forward to.

The Query, The Quandary

And I thought editing was hard. Writing a query letter, specifically the part of the query that describes the story, is enough to make me smash my head against the screen. I did that last night, actually. Twice. Thankfully my MacBook’s a sturdy machine.

There’s a lot of great resources out there to help writers along the way, but a lot of it’s conflicting. Loglines! No loglines! Reveal the ending! Don’t reveal the ending! Include a bio! Don’t include a bio!

And then there are helpful suggestions like my dad’s for a letter: “Yo bro’….what’s up with THIS??”

Love you, dad, but just no.

Slowly, I’m getting there, but it’s agonizing. I’ve re-written the damn thing ten times and probably have another ten ahead of me before I’ll be satisfied with it. The biggest problem right now, I think, is that I’m never going to know which one is best. And a lot rides on that letter, you know?

Back to head smashing.

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