Monday, December 29, 2008

Returning From Holiday Land

I'm trying to get myself back into the swing of writing. I find it hard at this time of year because most of everyone I know (especially my husband) has a few weeks holiday off over Christmas and New Year so the laze-about vibe is hard to resist. Of course being that I work in my dad's shop that only closes on Christmas day and that's it for the whole year, I don't actually get any time off this year, I'm working right through.
As I said, I'm trying to get my head back into writing space. Besides the fact that apparently Cafrine and I are suppose to post the first blogisode of Atrophy on the 1st of January (oh my god, oh my god, what were we thinking?) I found out yesterday that Firebrand Lit are doing what they're calling the "holiday query" where you don't have to send anything other than your first chapter. I know, I know, I'm maybe probably not quite ready to do that. But it's a one off opportunity and I like taking risks (supposedly). I've had a few people read over the first chapter and have been working hard to get it into shape, so I'm just going to do it. Send it off and hope for the best. There's still some tweaking I'd like to do and luckily I've got until the 15th of January. Hence trying to get my head into Writer's Space so I can actually get some decent work done.
Song: Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

It's Christmas day, so I'm wishing everyone I know a merry Christmas and happy holidays (in case you're not christian.)
My daughter is asleep, we're just waiting for her to wake up so we can go and have Christmas lunch with our extended family.
So wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I hope you enjoy this special day, be thankful for the blessings in your life and say a little pray for the reason we all come together today.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Starting Those Revisions

I made a small start on the revisions of the first 3 chapters yesterday. So far, so good (I hope!). It's not like I'm going to be doing any querying over the holidays, but I would like to try and be ready sometime in the next few months. I just have to keep a steady pace and try not to jump the gun (which I think I have a chronic problem with) and only re-query the agents when I have something that is as perfect as I can get it.
Although I told myself that I wanted to be published by the time I turned 27 (leaving me with just 8 months until that deadline now) I figure that even if I don't make the mark, I'm not doing too badly. The average time it takes an author to get published is 10 years and 2009 will be 8 years for me. Perhaps if I'm not published by 2012, I'll start getting worried.
Anyway, unfortunately I don't have time to stroll around on the Internet or do any writing this morning, I have things to do so I'd better get to them. Hopefully I'll find some time to do a little bit more revision later in the day. As long as I chip away at it regularly, eventually it'll be done.
On other topics, Nathan Bransford wrote a post about times of year it's not a good idea to query (which I thought might have been partly common sense) and Jessica over at Bookends wrote a blog about 'rules' when it comes to writing, namely, that there shouldn't be any!
In Atrophy news, if you've been over to the site you'll see the announcement that the pilot blogisode is due to be released on the 1st of January (no pressure!).
And that's about it today. Nothing terribly exciting.
Song: Somebody to Love by Queen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Missing Out

Clearly I don't need to find anything else to distract me on the Internet when I should be writing, but there must be so much great stuff out there I'm missing out on. Like The Guild for instance. I knew you could look up funny videos on YouTube and clips of your fav TV series, and I had a vague knowledge of the channels you could subscribe to, but I'd never explored it at any great length. And then Cafrine told me about The Guild. And of course now I'm hooked. And will possibly spend a lot more time on YouTube (just when I'd beaten the time-sucking vortex demon otherwise known as Facebook). Then the other day there was the website Cracked which featured a write up on the Twilight books and movies that was just hil-arious. Not to mention all of the other funny stuff on there.
Anyway, there was a lot of chatter on the web this morning about Borders bookstores making a deal with HarperStudios so that for a steeper discount, Borders will be buying the books on a non-returnable basis. Traditionally in bookstores, the store had the option of returning any unsold copies of for a full refund or credit. I don't understand much how it works beyond that, but it seems this led to a massive over-printing of copies, which in turn resulted in many books being pulped, and obviously this is just not environmentally friendly.
So now there is the worry for us unpublished authors that this will make the market even more competitive. That publishers and bookstores will be more cautious about taking chances on the unknown author.
Not to diminish people's fear, but I just can't worry about this. It seems every other month something is happening in this industry that makes the unpublished masses quake in their slippers (because apparently half of all writers out there sit around in their pj's all day since this job doesn't require us to go anywhere or get dressed). The economy. The agents only accepting query letters, the publishers not accepting any unsolicited mail, e-books available over the net, and now Borders experimenting with it's book-buying policy.
Instead of looking for reason as to why this industry is harder on us everyday, I'm just going to concentrate on my own writing and remember what many agents have said: "None of these things matter, if you've written a damn good book, you will sell it."
Song: Pumping on you Stereo by Supergrass

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revision Time

I got my work back from Cafrine and was very happy with what she had to say. She brought up some very valid points and actually noticed several things that my Editorial Advisor (aka, my sister-in-law) had already mentioned. So that tells me those couple of things definitely need to be worked on. I've written/re-drafted 5 chapters and now I'm resisting the urge to continue on because I want to get at least the first 3 chapters up to scratch, as polished and flawless as possible so I can start re-querying agents.
Partly I'm hoping that some of the agents will remember my idea (not necessarily me!) and recognize through the re-write and revision work I've done on it that I would be a good client to have since I am willing to work so hard, do the re-writes, realize when somethings not working and be willing to change it.
Interestingly enough, out of all the projects I've ever worked on over the years, this SOAP series is the one I've stuck with the longest. I think in those past situations part of me realized that there was something about the overall concept that wasn't working, so I went to other things. With SOAP, its totally different. The concept is what's keeping me going. I know the idea is a great one (and in all truth, there's not really anything like it out in the market at the moment, I think that's why so many agents were initially interested) but there were obviously major issues with the actual body of work. Hopefully this re-write and early revisions will help me avoid those this time around.
In Atrophy related news, Part 1 of the Pilot Episode is almost finished. Obviously it will need a fair bit of revision and editing before it's aired as the first blogisode. However I feel we are definitely on track for our deadline. I'm just so thrilled to be doing this project. There is something about it that's very freeing, and I hope Atrophy has a nice, long, exciting life.
Song: Suzie Q by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Friday, December 12, 2008

End of the Week

Oh dear, Nathan Bransford has just under 1300 entries for his first paragraph comp. The poor man must be wondering what he's got himself into.
Anyway, there was no writing on SOAP book 1 yesterday. I did do a quick re-read and fixed up some minor errors, but nothing of consequence. The writing I did was on Atrophy (yay!) and I'm just waiting for Cafrine to read what I've done and make comments and changes. I must say, I really am enjoying working on this project with her. Of course I like a challenge, and as long as I'm writing, I'm happy. Speaking of writing, there was an interesting article over at the NY Times (the link of which I totally stole from seeing it on another blog) about bailing out writers instead of the financial sector in the current economy. I thought it was amusing anyway.
I'm with the writers who said if they received enough money to support themselves for the next 10 years, they'd simply write more than they do at the moment. I also liked the quote in there from Graham Greene: “Are you prepared for the years of effort, ‘the long defeat of doing nothing well’? As the years pass writing will not become any easier, the daily effort will grow harder to endure, those ‘powers of observation’ will become enfeebled; you will be judged, when you reach your 40s, by performance and not by promise.”
I'm obviously not 40 yet, but there is so much about that statement that is already true.
Song: Rest In Pieces by Saliva

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Working Hard

Yesterday I added a cool 10,000 words to SOAP book 1. I'd like to say that I'm some kind of writing genius and I wrote the entire 10,000 words off the top of my head, but at least half, if not a little more, was imported from the old copy of SOAP book 1. There was a lot of information pertaining to the over all series that still fitted with what's happening in the re-write.
I'm going along a lot quicker than I envisaged. At this rate, I should have the manuscript complete again in another few weeks, especially considering I'm using the entire second half of the first draft. Now that I've at least got the first 3 chapters together, I'm going to start doing a hard edit, with a couple of people giving me some feedback. I told Cafrine to be 'brutally honest' and I can't wait to see what she has to say about it. Really, I think the only way I'm going to get this thing up to an agent's standard is for someone else to take it apart first.
So that's where I'm at; very happy with what I've got done so far.
And in Atrophy news, you'll be excited to hear that not only have we written more, but we've set ourselves a deadline for releasing part 1 of the pilot episode. I'm not going to say what it is, just in case it needs to be revised a bit further down the track, but it's out there and it is coming along. Soon enough there will actually be something to read. And now I have to go to work. Dammit.
Song: Song 2 by Blur

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chipping Away

Yesterday I wrote 700 after my daughter went to bed for the night but before NCIS started. And it reminded me why I have a No Writing After 6 O'clock rule. For one, it switches on my brain and then when I go to bed it takes me several hours to go to sleep, which drives me nuts. And secondly, I just can't write at that time of night. I am definitely a morning-writer. By the end of the day my brain is so clogged up with stuff that happened all day that it's next to impossible to get it to function on any sort of productive level.
Nathan Bransford has about 700 entries for his first paragraph comp, and I'd just like to know, how does 300-odd words qualify as a first paragraph? I know, I know, I shouldn't bitch about it, but seriously. 300 words is the first page, not an opening paragraph. Perhaps some sort of line should have been drawn in terms of wordcount. I don't envy him sifting through all those entries.
Song: No Rain by Blind Melon

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Writing To Speak Of

I haven't done any writing in the past few days and I'm starting to feel the itch. Yesterday I did a lot of gardening before heading over to a friend's house in the afternoon. The gardening was because in a few weeks we're having my daughter's birthday party and I'd like the backyard to look half decent if people are going to be sitting out there all day. The visiting was because my friend hadn't been well last week and I thought she might like the company, a little adult conversation, and another kid to play with hers. Interesting, I know.
Anyway, the point is that I'm not likely to get much writing done in the near future since I have a fair bit on my plate at the moment. Today I'm working, as I will be for the rest of the week. However I may just have to find a few minutes somewhere to fit some words in. Eventually the need to write something will overcome my perceived lack of time. Sometimes I really do think this whole writing biz is a bit like an addiction.
Oh, and I also entered the first paragraph comp Nathan Bransford is holding over at his blog. Wouldn't it just be like winning a million dollars to have someone like him give me a partial critique? The idea is bliss.
Song: One Headlight by the Wallflowers

Monday, December 8, 2008

Google Earth

I'd heard a lot about Google Earth, but hadn't actually taken a look for myself yet. While I was doing some more re-writing on SOAP book 1 the other day I suddenly realized something. With Google Earth, I could see exactly what anywhere in the world looked like and describe it for setting my scenes. This prospect was very exciting for me because I am firmly an armchair traveller. Oh, I've been almost all around Australia (with the Northern Territory and Western Australia being the only places I haven't been) but I'll admit I'm a total wuss. I don't want to go overseas for the simple fact that it just doesn't seem safe with all the terrorist attacks that have happened in the last eight or so years. I know, there's probably many arguments against my confounded logic, but I don't feel like I'm really missing anything by not going.
Anyway, so I downloaded Google Earth because I wanted to see what a particular bit of Indonesia looked like where my characters end up. This is where Google Earth becomes a very helpful tool. While I had my characters walking along a beach fringed by jungle with not a bit of civilization in sight, wouldn't you know the piece of coastline I'm talking about is populated with rows and rows of beach houses. So that stumped me, didn't it? I found a section of coast that would match what I was talking about and put my characters there instead. At least now I will be able to accurately describe the places I'm talking about and not just be making stuff up to suit the story. I much prefer my work to be researched and true to the facts. Although it could easily become another time waster while I map out a course for my characters (I already wasted at least an hour looking up our house, my family's shop, my sister's house, my in-law's house, the studios where Supernatural, Stargate and Smallville are shot, some famous streets in New York and LA, and the Great Wall of China. Random, I know.) I'll try to be disciplined about it. I managed to beat my Facebook addiction, otherwise known as the time-sucking vortex demon.
Anyhoo, instead of talking about how great I think Google Earth is as a writing aid, I should actually go do some writing!
Song: Tribute by Tenacious D

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crazy Writers

Update: Yesterday I only wrote 1200 words, but better than nothing! Hopefully I can keep this up until I've got the entire first half re-written.
I know I've posted about it before, but there's been some discussion at agent blogs and other places on the net about rejection letters and the way some people respond to them. Unfortunately many agencies now have the policy of no response means no. This really annoys me. I mean seriously, how do I know my email just didn't end up in the spam filter? Ok, I'm sure a lot of agents wish a majority of query letters would go to the spam filter, but for all the unprepared, ill-researched, egotistical query letters, there are those of us who have done our homework, are perfectly serious, and possibly have something worth reading.
It's certainly not getting any easier to attract an agent's attention, and those who feel the need to write abusive emails back to a rejection are just making it harder. Even a generic response is enough to elicit venom from writers these days. Partly, I can understand. I've felt the frustration, I've contemplated throwing my computer out the window. I've had the urge to scream "WHY? WHY? WHY?" I've even had to fight the temptation of emailing an agent and asking to please elaborate on why if they liked the idea, what was wrong with the actual manuscript.
I just keep reminding myself that this is how the industry works. It's my choice to pursue this career path and as a result I need to follow the rules. I keep being told by published writers that persistence is the key. Well, I've got all the persistence in the world. It could probably be redefined as stubbornness (as I mentioned the other day).
It's just unfortunate that the few who feel the need to tell an agent what an idiot they are for rejecting the next New York Times best-seller are having such an impact on the rest of us.
Song: Better by the Screaming Jets

Friday, December 5, 2008

Small Update

I don't have much to report this morning, just that I managed to write another 2,500 words throughout yesterday. It's not going too badly at the moment, but hopefully I'll be able to get some feedback soon to pick up on the things that already might need fixing. I think I've mostly avoided the information dumping problem. I often have this urge to over-explain things, but I think I've been avoiding the temptation.
Hopefully I'll get another few thousand words done today.
Song: What It's Like by Everlast

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time's a Wastin'

My daughter is asleep. I could be adding to the 3000 word start I made on the Re-Write the other day. But what am I doing? Email. Reading blogs. Procrastinating about Atrophy (which, you'll be excited to learn, we've actually made a start on. The pilot episode is on it's way, though don't expect anything posted until after Christmas. It's taken us a week to write one page). I'm writing this blog entry. These are the pitfalls of having the Internet.
I was over at Lynn's blog where she is getting to the final stages of her ms before sending out to agents. I wish her all the luck, because obviously we all know what a hard slog it is! I need some more discipline. I've got half a manuscript to re-write before editing. My prospects of sending out to agents won't be coming around until mid-next year I would guess. In fact, it'll probably be about time to enter the RWA STALI comp again by the time I get things in order. But I'm not thinking about that! One thing I've discovered about this business is that time literally has no meaning. A year is a blink in the publishing world. And you just have to learn to live with it or go find something else to do. Obviously I have learned to live with it, otherwise I wouldn't be here.
I think back to when I started out writing and it was inconceivable that seven (now almost eight) years down the track I still wouldn't be published. Now it wouldn't surprise me if I went yet another eight years with no agent or contract in sight (but God, I hope not!)
In other news I, along with several other lovely RWA ladies here in Victoria will be forming a new group. Excitement! I've always wanted a group of my very own. I'm really looking forward to the help they're going to provide in terms of the new half of SOAP book 1.
So that's where I'm at. Now I'm going to start writing and my daughter is sure to wake up!
Song: Crash by 12 Stones

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Beginning Again

The big Re-Write began yesterday, off to a cracking start of 3000 words. I mentioned in reply to a comment yesterday that I'm not technically re-writing the entire book. You see, as the manuscript was, it started off when my hero, a United States Air Force officer, crashes his fighter jet in Iraq. The first part of the book is a journey for my hero and heroine through Iraq, onto Turkey, then Cyprus, before ending up in Indonesia.
Too much? Probably, yes.
It was almost like two separate stories, which I was told a couple of times by a couple of different people. With the new plot, the book starts in Indonesia and stays in Indonesia. So really, I'm only going to be re-writing the first two hundred or so pages, which equates to about 50,000 words. I feel that the new initial plot now fits much, much better with where it all ends up. And obviously I am working hard to avoid the pitfalls of the last manuscript, which included the sins of 'showing, not telling,' information dumps, stating the obvious, and not giving the reader enough credit to work things out on their own. The hardest thing I'm finding is avoiding the information dumps. I feel like by not doing it the reader is missing out on something, when in reality, most of my information dumps are useless facts the reader doesn't need to know, like "she loved chocolate ice cream with raspberry sauce. Her mother used to make it for her when she was a child. Thinking about her mother brought back memories of spending hours in the kitchen, watching the sunlight stream in through the bright, happy, yellow curtains..." Ok, so it actually wasn't that maudlin, but it was probably about as useless.
This time around I'm going to be having people read and give me feedback as I go, so that I can try and fix major things and then not continue to do them. I swear, this time around its going to be THE ONE. I know, I know, I've said it before. But you can't even begin to imagine how determined I am. Actually, it probably comes closer to being stubborn to the point of ridiculousness. But no matter! Someway, somehow, I am going to carve my place out of this impossible piece of granite I've been given.
Song: Better Off At The Start by Sum 41 vs Coldplay (mashup)

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Answer?

After spending the last couple of days thinking about it and once again considering the source and validity of comments made to me (thanks for your input after my last post, Lynn, that was also very helpful!) I have decided to go with the re-write. In all truth, I now have a much more concrete idea about how I want the entire series to go, so perhaps in re-writing that will come through much stronger. Also, I will obviously be trying to avoid the pitfalls of the last manuscript. Now all I need to do is come up with a different plot and I'll be set! Right now I don't have much, but I'm sure I'll come up with something soon. One way or another, I am going to sell this idea and these books!
Song: Aisles of White by the Butterfly Effect