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Querying and interesting findings

Hi all,

I haven't really given many query updates. My journey is so similar to other writers that I assume details are just redundant. But before I began querying I loved reading query-type info, so here you go.

The most interesting thing I have found is that the agents I felt were PERFECT for my story in every way gave me a form rejection. The agents I decided to test out just-t0-see requested the full. Isn't that crazy. Two agents that have my full rarely request YA (even though they both have sold YA). I am a premium member over at QueryTracker. I think anyone querying should pay that $25 bucks because it is soooo worth it. I am able to see the raw data of all queriers to any agent. The actual querier's name is hidden, but the stats are there. This has been the absolute best info I have found.

So my advice: Query very, very, very widely. I no longer believe in the "super/dream agent" thing. My "super agent" will be the one that loves my work enough to t…

Anniversary Day!

Hello fellow bloggers! Today is my 7 year wedding anniversary, and so I thought I would offer a list of what I have learned about marriage over the last 7 years.

The first year is the hardest, hang in there. Regardless of how right you are, fight the urge to say it. 99% of all arguments are a waste of energy. Relating to the above, TRY to bite your tongue. When someone screws up, they know it.
You really don't have to reiterate. Finances can complicate things. Discuss how to handle them PRIOR to marrying. It will
save you loads of grief. Decide how many children you want and when PRIOR to marrying. Decide if both spouses will work during child rearing years PRIOR to marrying. Know now that you will love your children more than you ever thought of loving anyone
else, but please do not let your spouse know that fact. :) Children can CAUSE and FIX arguments. You will argue about things you never
considered once kids are into the equation, but one smile from your child(ren) will make
you fo…

What do you want for Christmas?

Me? Well, besides an agent, I want this:






The problem is that I've been feeling like a bit of traitor wanting a Kindle. What's your take on the Kindle? Am I shooting my future writing dreams in the foot or is it fine? For me, I will still buy traditional books. I work in printing, and therefore, I feel that traditional printing will never die. I enjoy holding a traditional book, the satifaction of closing it after a fantastic read, and then picking it up months later. As a graphics person, I adore cover art. These are things that will not go away if I purchase a Kindle.

So, free my worrisome soul, it's fine, right? :)

Now onto you, what would you like for Christmas? What would make that day super special for you and remind you of childhood days? I believe we all have those childhood memories of the one toy you ALWAYS wanted and the thrill (or disappointment) on Christmas morning. So, share. I'd love to know and then follow-up to tell me if you got it. I'll be hoping fo…

Outlining -- a.k.a pulling your hair out

Outlining...yes, that organizational craziness that forces you to look like the poor cat above. Yep, that's what I'm talking about today. After reading a fellow blogger’s post regarding plotters vs. pansters, I began to research various outlining methods. The snowflake method is a very common approach that involves starting with a summary sentence (a.k.a pitch) then expanding out.
Some claim this hinders creativity, while supporters feel it keeps them on track. I've decided to use elements of the approach (click here). I like the pitch sentence to begin with. This took me quite awhile, but in developing my pitch sentence for Twisted Root I found that it helps to think in broad terms. A+B=C But the more interesting element of this model is the disaster moments in the story. You know, those moments where you become the evilest writer on the planet and your characters are tortured.
The Snowflake method suggests that you have 3 disasters (more with sub-plots) and an ending, ea…

Do you use photos to assist with setting?

I've been attempting to find a photo that conveyed the beauty of the underworld in TWISTE ROOT (my WIP). With SECOND SOUL, I used various Thomas Kinkade paintings to create Heaven. It's tricky when you have absolutely nothing in mind, and I am a very visual person. I need the other worlds in my book to be described to the point that the reader feels he/she is walking through the story. Well I found the photo--finally! What do you think? Nice, huh?





Do you use photos, visuals, etc. to help you write? If not, what helps you visualize? TWISTED ROOT is so deeply imaginative that I've had to pool lots of photos (and create some of my own) in order to correctly set the book. It is a journey for sure. So share, what helps you create setting?

M.B.

Recipes for sweetness

It dawned on me yesterday that I have a "recipe" for writing success. And by success I'm referring to the ability to write more than one line without my mind going totally blank. First, I am a night owl so I do my best writing at night. Last night I was up until around 2 am working on Twisted Root--my current WIP, a YA dystopian. In addition to the night thing, I've found that I need a few theme songs for my WIP. The music must jive with the mood of the relationship between my central characters--in this case, Ari and Jackson. When my brain shuts down and coffee doesn't help, I turn to my theme song, and suddenly the words flow out of me again.

My theme song for Twisted Root is Secrets by OneRepublic. Listen/watch here.

This song conveys the tension between my two main characters, but also the name is perfect. See, Jackson is the most popular boy in school and Ari (not so popular at all) finds out he is secretly a spy for the Republic (an alien group that lives bel…

New pet, new MS, and querying fun

I have been sooooo slammed that my blog has taken a very backseat, but I've decided to dive back into it on a regular M,W,F basis. So here goes.

Some of you may remember that my Cocker Spaniel, Bella, passed away in October. See picture below:




We were very sad, but my 2 year old just couldn't process that she was no longer with us. She would stand at my deck door and call for her or ask when she would return from the doctor. It was heart-breaking to say the least. My DH and I knew that we needed another pet to offset the loss and so this weekend we adopted a precious 4.5 month old kitten. Rylie, my daughter, has always called all cats "Kiki" so that is what we named our new baby. She is absolutely adorable, but what I never anticipated was her immediate attachment to my daughter. Typically kittens and toddlers can be an issue (we were very leery to bring home a kitten on the younger side). My daughter is a VERY mellow toddler so we opted to adopt an equally mellow kitt…

Emotionally-charged writing

Yesterday I received an email from a friend of mine. She's kind of going through a tough time and so I asked her to type out exactly how she felt and send it to me. I will not, for privacy reasons, discuss the contents of the email but when I read it I literally felt her pain. There were few periods, less commas, and absolutely no structure to the email, but the writer in me found the intensity of the words absolutely beautiful. I think this would be a great exercise for any writer. When you feel lost or sad or overjoyed with happiness, write it down or type it out. Do not worry about structure, punctuation, or any of those silly things we writers live by. Instead, just write exactly what you feel and send it to yourself. I bet you will be amazed when you read it later.

On a separate note a few funny details, and I am interested to know if you do this, too. I have a few words that my mind misspells continuously. A crit partner will point it out and I can feel my face flush over in …

How our experiences shape us...

I read a thread today on the blueboards (Verla Kay) that was so horrifying I couldn't process it. See there is/was a book for sale on Amazon for pedophiles. I should start this post by saying that I do not watch the news. At all. I used to, but the constant focus on the negative aspects of our world quickly turned me off. Instead, I generally rummage through Yahoo or MSNBC (but only on occasion) and then go about my day. Getting back to the point, so yes, some sicko came up with a sicko book and Amazon decided to allow it to sell on their site.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/11/amazoncom-pulls-pedophile-advice-book-after-controversy-over-its-sale.html

I will not delve into my opinion on this as I am a VERY opinionated person and this pisses me off to no end. But I will tell you this, prior to becoming a parent I was very much against the death penalty. I felt that God, and God alone, reserved the right to determine the life and death of human beings.

Then I had my da…

The Buzz (aka Word of Mouth)

NaNo update: words off (I'm bright red right now typing this) roughly 4,000
Goal: To catch up :)
_______________________________

What makes something high concept? And is that the same as something that facilitates word of mouth success?

I'm reading a few books right now (which, yes, likely hinders my Nano progress). One of them is THE SHACK, which is very much a religious based novel. I don't typically read Christian lit (excluding C.S. Lewis and arguably Tolkien and L-Engle), but noticed this book when perusing the aisles of Target the other day. It has a gripping cover, wouldn't you say?
So I picked it up. First, let me say that this is not a new book. It was self-published in 2007. THE SHACK went on to become a USA Today Bestseller, a NYT #1 Bestseller, and has remained on the NYT Paperback bestseller list through 2010. So yeah, this book is for sure a breakout novel. It is a perfect example of the success of the "buzz." A book that makes people talk is so mu…

Nano and a completed novel?

I read a fair amount about Nano and various writers' experiences prior to committing to write this month. A common thing mentioned is that the novel is in such poor shape that the writer has to do one of the following:

A: rewrite the entire thing
B: revise forever to get it into shape
C: shelf the project.

If you have participated in Nano, what was your experience?

I am not comfortable with any one of the above outcomes because I LOVE the project I am working on. Consequently, I am editing as I go (more than I should) and thinking through plot (more than I should). I am quite behind in the word count but am thrilled with what I have so far. Sooo…I am setting my own *goal* for Nano and beyond.

I plan to write and revise the complete novel by January 1st. Then send it to my crit partners that very day and will, of course, revise again based upon their comments. And guess what? This change in goal has helped me to become more productive. My plan is to double up on daily word counts this we…

When editing, over critting, and nerves take over your story.

I've made it a personal mission of mine to read at least a few books a month. As a writer, it keeps the creative juices flowing. But this month I realized that each book that I read broke one or many of the rules. This is a common thing for sure as part of learning the rules is knowing when to break them. I read one book where the author used the verb "was" twenty times on one page. Yikes! I thought, at first, but then I realized that I didn't even notice it in the first pass. Want to know why? Because the story flowed so incredibly well that I didn't care. It was quite the epiphany for me and in turn I have created a few rules for myself.

1. Story trumps rules, always. If it works, it works. Throwing in a bunch of strong verbs can read as very unnatural.

2. Voice trumps rules, sometimes. You have to stay true to your character. If that word or phrase is voice specific, I say keep it.

I find that over editing, over critting, and nerves in general can really detract …

NaNo -- How are you prepping?

Good morning all! Today is the last business day (aka real day in my book as I get super lazy on the w/e) prior to NaNo. This is my first and I am super pumped, though my husband already said that 50,000 words is impossible in one month. I assured him that it is not and that I will hit 52,000. See I am going to work on TWISTED ROOT of which I already have chapter 1 -- 2,000 words complete. So to be honest and all I need to hit 52,000 words. But I must admit, I am going to likely start from scratch so as to keep the creative juices flowing.

So in researching about NaNo I found a few tips and thought I would pass them along:

1. Do a rough outline of your story and character sketches before.
2. Set a time every day to write -- 9 pm, 5 am, whatever but make it the same every day.
3. Write everyday no matter what.
4. Binge on the weekend -- write for an hour, take a break, then another hour, break, etc.
5. Have fun with it and don't focus on quality. Just get the words on the page.

How about …

Snappy, wordy, funky sentences...

Okay so I've been revising for what feels like FOREVER. I am ready to stop, seriously, but I know you have to carve away the absolute crap that is first drafts in order to have a beautiful MS. But in this journey I have discovered that there is a very fine line between snappy and wordy. Shall I give a few examples of what I mean?

These sentences are taken randomly from SECOND SOUL -- feel free to lash me if anything is crazy. Here goes:

________________________________________________
Snappy: Not even close. He knew. The door quaked. Wordy:

It crashed shut with a loud bang, and I stumbled back, lost my footing, and fell to the floor. The path itself was concrete, lacking all the grandeur and particularity of the other two paths, and I found myself searching for a way out of this lost land. Basic (but could be tightened): They rested there like birds in a nest, delicate and peaceful. The final bolt hit in the center of the table.________________________________________________I find th…

Fireworks or sparklers?

Again, sorry for the absence. This writing business can be quite time consuming when you need to *ehem* actually write. :)

What have I been doing you ask? Querying, a bit. And getting rejected, a bit. And getting requests, a bit. Some fun, some not so fun, but all in all I'm enjoying this new phase of the game. I think my writing is a bit different and my style is a bit different, which I'm afraid means my querying=agent journey could take awhile. I'm okay with that fact. I am a fairly driven person so I'm not planning on giving up, BUT I do plan to eat a lot of chocolate along the way.

This querying business has made me wonder: do you prefer a fireworks, explosive-type opening or a mini sparkler, get-to-know-my world sort of opener?

I jump right in. Is this the correct way to go about it? I'm not sure, but originally I started with the 2nd option and my lovely critters said that sucked. I thanked them for the compliment and then revised...and revised again...and the…

Bad words...

First, so sorry I missed Monday's post. I promise there was good reason, which I hope to not jinx by posting about it, but let's just say it was a very pleasant surprise. :)

Now onto today's post. Today I want to talk about bad words, and I'm not talking about curse words. Curse words can actually be good words (when it comes to writing) if used selectively, and if they are appropriate for the story/MC.

For me, bad words are the words that drag down or weaken my prose. I have a list of words that I search out and destroy during revisions. Of course, some stay. My rule is that if the word is necessary to maintain voice then it stays, if it does not add to voice or the story then it's axed.

MY LIST: _______________________________________________________________
---------------------------------------------- Verbs ---------------------------------------------- Was Were Could Should Would Felt Looked (issue when overused) Walked (issue when overused) Past perfect combos: had + past …

Confession time!

Watch out! I'm posting back-to-back. Crazy, I know. :)

I was working on my umpteenth revision of SECOND SOUL and realized that I have a few confessions to make. ___________________________________________________________
I write overly wordy prose on my first draft. OKAY, Fine. I write overly wordy prose on drafts 1-3. And let me tell you, it is like slicing my arm off to delete some of it. I always know that if I am super proud of a certain bit of prose, it's cutting time. I'm not a fan of literary fiction. Yikes! A writer that doesn't prefer literary fiction! What has the world come to! The problem with most literary fiction is in the descriptions. I really do not need two or three paragraphs on the beauty of a tree. I get that it is lovely. I really do. But I do not need to read about it at length. At that point, I'm skimming. I prefer just enough details to convey the message/scene/setting without haulting the pacing. I find it interesting that so many experts sl…

Are you afraid?

Yesterday was a crazy day. I have a Cocker Spaniel, Bella. She started getting sick two nights ago and refused to come inside. So, yesterday I noticed she wasn't able to walk so well. I called her Vet and had an appt set for 1:20. By noon she had crawled under our storage shed in the backyard and refused to come out.

I am petrified of snakes and pretty much anything that creeps and crawls, but I knew I needed to get her out of there. I stood by the shed for thirty minutes, gaining the courage. The shed sits about a foot above the ground and she was at least six feet in so, yeah, for me to get her I would have to crawl on my stomach and pull her out. At this point I'm crying because she has vomited a few times and is screaming in pain. My daughter, Rylie, is outside with me, begging me to help Beya (that's what she calls her). So I'm looking at my crying daughter and looking at my crying dog and decided to toughen up. I crawled under the shed, pushed aside the thick, dis…

Opinions on Agents

So a few days ago I was rummaging through Twitter updates and stumbled across this:

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=2039

Have any of you read it? What are your opinions?

If you have not read it, let me recap. The poster (Mr. Smith) discusses, quite intensely I might add, the story of an author (Mr. Buchman) acquiring a 4 book deal with Sourcebooks, yet he was unable to get an agent to rep him. Mr. Smith goes on to ask if Agents have lost their minds.

Maybe, I can't be sure. I am not an agent, not in the least, but I can relate to one element of the job. I receive a LOT of emails a day. Going back and forth, today alone, I went through over a hundred emails. I can tell you that I lose my mind all the time. So, yeah, I imagine they lose their minds just like all business professionals do. Is this one of those times? Again, maybe, I can't be sure. But Mr. Smith's post brings up an interesting topic: What value do YOU feel agents bring to the table?

For me, there are several. Fir…

What annoys you the most?

What annoys you the most about writing? Is it a struggle or confusion? What element confounds you the most?

For me it is the comma. I have always detested the comma and feel that comma splice is among the most offensive forms of writing. I would rather see no commas at all than one thrown in for the heck of it. So, yeah, my crit group loves to decorate my MS with commas. I have always felt that commas (at least in some uses) are subjective. BUT they are necessary, and so, I will list the most common reasons to use a comma as a way of clearing my conscience.

1. Series of 3 or more with a single conjunction
EXAMPLE: Amy bought toothpaste, lotion, and lip gloss at the store.

2. Parenthetic expressions or nonessential clause/phrase
EXAMPLE: Cassey, on the other hand, wanted to go to the mall.
EXAMPLE: My rose garden, when in full bloom, is beautiful.

UMMM...let's see

3. Introductory phrases/clauses before main clause
EXAMPLE: While I was sleeping, Mom cleaned my room.

4. Separating two independ…

CONTEST MONDAY!

There are lots of great contests going on in the blogosphere, but two caught my attention today that deserve mentioning.

1. Angela at The Bookshelf Muse is offering a 3 month mentorship. This contest is open through Wednesday, September 29th so hurry over. I have not entered the contest, yet, but definitely plan to!

http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/2010/09/1000-followers-contest-mentorship.html

2. Roni at Fiction Groupie has a great contest running through Sunday. It's her birthday so pop over and say Happy Birthday, then enter your email address as a comment and presto! You are entered into the contest to receive a 5 page crit from her. She will select two winners. One will get the option of either the crit or a new copy of Wicked Becomes You by Meredith Duran. The second winner will receive whichever is left.

http://fictiongroupie.blogspot.com/2010/09/birthday-contest.html

Good luck to everyone!!!

M.B. :)

Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

I have had a bad week. Scratch that -- two weeks. I am a fairly private person, but as the last few weeks have been so horrible I hope you will find it okay that I share it with you.

Two weeks ago my husband lost his job. We are fortunate, in many ways, as while I am part-time my salary covers most of our bills. But bills were not my concern. Our insurance was with my husband and Cobra was more than my mortgage so it wasn't an option. We decided to wait to see if he found a job quickly and if not would search out private insurance options. Thankfully God took care of us and my DH begins his new job on Monday...but it wasn't quick enough.

Last Saturday my daughter, Rylie, began to run a high 103 fever. We gave her Motrin and she fell asleep in my arms. By 5 am on Sunday the fever was over 104 and climbing. We rushed her to the ER. After well over an hour we were taken back and the first words out of the doctors mouth were "Oh, you're paying for this." He assured us …

Hooks?

Hooks are maybe one of the most frustrating elements of writing. We need to hook on the first page, first paragraph, etc. We have to hook in our query. There seems to be endless requests for strong hooks. Which brings me to my post/question for today -- what hooks you?

I've read through the first few pages of my favorite books lately just analyzing the hooks. Want to know what they all have in common? They present a question. Not a true question with a question mark, but a question in the reader's mind and that question has to be answered. So, as a reader, I read on in hopes of getting my answer. I also think one similarity is that the initial question presented is always answered by the end of that first chapter. And many times the first chapter presents one or more questions that push the story forward.

Let's take Hunger Games as an example. The last line of the first paragraph reads: This is the day of the reaping.
Immediately we want to know what's a reaping? Why does…

Let's talk about sex -- Writing Topics Wednesday!

Today is Writing Topic Wednesday and while most of the time I will focus on issues that surround most writers -- hooks, passive voice, etc. -- today I want to talk about sex, specifically in YA.

There seem to be two groups of thought on this topic. Some claim it is irresponsible to delve into sex scenes, especially gratuitous sex scenes, in YAs. Others feel sex is part of the teenage world so why not? There are many examples of YA books with sexual content, from discreet scenes in Shiver to more detailed encounters reported in The Duff (of which I have only read the first few chapters on B&N so I cannot claim to have an opinion on that one). And let's not forget Twilight and while the book contained no hint of actual sex, the implication of heated desire was more than there. A hot guy wants to suck a girls blood because she smells so damn good he can't stand it. Uh, yeah.

Now as writers we often suggest that the story "tells itself" and therefore whatever is fine a…

Contest Monday!

As per my new schedule today is CONTEST MONDAY!

******************************************************** September Secret Agent contest on Miss Snark's First Victim Basic Info: Priliminary info only, actual contest begins September 20th but note that the contest WILL be full within minutes of opening which is why I am posting about it today. Get yourself ready! I participated in the July contest and the feedback was amazing! Details: Submit first 250 words for critique. If the Secret Agent loves it he/she will request pages. Genres:
SF/F
Historical and paranormal romance
MG and YA (including all subgenres) ********************************************************

Putting others down...

I missed my Wednesday writing post so I'll do a double post next week to catch up...well, I'll try. ;)

A strange thing happened to me last week. I'm not going to get into the crazy/petty details but I am learning there is a particular breed of person (can be male or female) that enjoys making statements that bring others down. I have had this happen to me twice in the last week. Now, don't get too sad for me, I'm a pretty tough cookie and take this sort of thing in stride, but others do not. I found myself listening and wondering why people choose to behave this way? Is it a self-esteem thing? That's what all the psych majors would say, but I think it runs deeper than that. And the reason I chose to blog about it today is that there seems to be an overload of this type of person in the writing world.

Have you met one? Either in person or online? It's the kind of writer that likes to tell you what you are doing wrong and what you can do to make it to THEIR lev…

Blog Awards!

***********************************************************************************
Well I am thrilled to death to have received the below blog awards from two fantastic bloggers - Amanda at Madameduck and Catherine at The Writing Room.





Thanks so much to both of you! Blogging is a newer thing for me and I am glad you've enjoyed my posts so far. :)

The rules:

1. Thank and link back to the blogger who gave the award.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass the award on to fifteen bloggers, newly discovered or those you've been following
4. Contact the bloggers that you selected for awards. My favorites: 1. Anna Staniszewski2. Jennifer Bertman 3. Rose Cooper4. Karen Strong5. Liz Straw... More to come. :)

Contests, opportunities, etc.

New post schedule. I will be aiming to post every M, W, F.

Mondays - Contest information
Wednesday - Writing problems and suggestions (including links) of ways to overcome them
Friday - Confetti (Anything goes, but I will try to concentrate on book reviews)

Now on to the fun!

CONTEST INFORMATION
__________________________________________________________________________
C.A. Marshall - freelance editor, agent intern, super woman

Okay, this is crazy stuff, just crazy! Ms. Marshall is offering a chance to win a full MS edit on her blog! All you have to do is enter, but if you follow her blog, tweet about it, and blog about it, you'll increase your chances to win. Then enter all that jazz into the form on her blog and presto! You've just entered a contest with a chance to win a full critique. Now go, hurry up!

http://www.camarshall.com/

__________________________________________________________________________
This contest inspired me to start a continuous post. So, every Monday be on the l…

Writing that evokes emotion

So as I mentioned in a previous post I just finished reading Stein's On Writing. Great book, if you have not read it yet you need to. It is so fantastic!

Well in the book he touches on our role as writers. Most writers say they write to express themselves or to tell a story. He says that's wrong. You should be writing to evoke emotion in your reader. What does that mean exactly? The long and short of it is that we, as people, experience everyday life. Don't write about everyday life. Write with feeling. Develop characters with feeling. Show drama and intensity and tension throughout your book so your story, even if it's a quiet story, leaves that reader feeling something.

I thought for a bit about how to do this exactly when suddenly it occurred to me that anything BIG that has ever happened in our lives inflicted emotion in us. Death does not only make us sad. It causes our bodies to ache. Our brains to feel like mush. Death changes our bodies and minds in ways the wor…

Writing Books...

I've read many writing books and can say that the vast majority of them would produce nothing more than a cookie-cutter book with little to no life. I have found only 3 that I feel are at all inspiring - Bird by Bird, On writing - both King's and Stein's. I loved all three of these books. I do like Self-editing for Fiction Writers as well, but for different reasons. I realized today that while many writing books are by agents or editors or publishing pro's. These three are actually by writers. Of all the experts to seek out in writing wouldn't you think we would turn to writers first? Oddly enough, I think we often turn to agents or editors and while their information is gold. It doesn't often speak to me in the manner that a writer can. I have read countless mentions of "show don't tell" but only after reading Sol Stein's description did the light bulb turn on. I've read editors speak about the value of tight writing. Okay, what in the he…

Besides writing...

What are your other hobbies/passions/addictions? Are they inline with writing or on a totally different planet?

Me?

I have a LOT of premium denim - Seven for all Mankind, True Religion, Citizens of Humanity, etc. I used to be very addicted to denim b/c at heart I am very much a jeans and T gal. At one time I owned around 40 but now I have maybe 15 or so pairs. And don't get me started on shoes...though now that I’m a mom these things have taken a backseat. I buy for my daughter instead. :)

I am addicted to skincare/make-up. I worked as a make-up artist at a spa in college as well as for Clinique and loved it. I can recommend a full skincare and make-up routine for practically anyone once I know a little about her skin.

I love to cook, which has resulted in my daughter having a fairly advanced palate. She will only eat foods with lots of flavor and depth. I LOVE Top Chef!

I'm into yoga, but I've been really bad since editing began. I take at a yoga studio that is amazing! Thi…

Mockingjay! Mockingjay! Mockingjay!

I feel like some raging fan screaming at a rock concert. I am so over-the-top excited to read this book. I haven't felt this excited since the release of HP 7, which, yes, I waited in line at midnight to get. I read that book the very night I bought it. And then again two days later b/c I thought I might've missed some important detail. I should be embarrassed, I guess, but I'm not. It is EXTREMELY rare for me to read a book more than once. And even more rare for me to read a book more than twice. I have read all HP's at least 4 times. I've read Hunger Games and Catching Fire both twice, and no doubt will re-read them again. I'm not sure what about books conjures this sort of excitement. I will likely have the book read in a few days and will post my opinion. I would love to know yours. I read often, but will rarely post my opinions. Mainly because I am a tough critic and authors have enough of those out there. As writers, I feel if it isn't positive, then …

What's the deal with -ing?

So, (have you noticed I start nearly all posts with "so" :)) there are two types of -ing phrasing that can be an issue in writing. It is important to note that BOTH are grammatically correct. What's the problem then? The problem is that writing is about storytelling and good storytelling should be tight.

Have you ever heard a story told by a long-winded friend or family member? They go on and on and before long you begin to wonder A - what's the point to this story again and B - when will the story end!

This is the issue with -ing phrasing. Again, storytelling should be tight and PPP’s, at least, can lend themselves to very long sentences that make no sense at all. Some are good, but too much can be as bad as over salting french fries - you're ruining them! :) But, I digress.

There are two types – gerund (or gerundive if you like to be fancy) phrases and present participial phrases (PPP).

What's the difference, you may ask? They are VERY often confused. I read a …

How and what do you line edit?

I am working on a final line edit and was curious -- how do most writers line edit?

I re-read each chapter and do the following:

1.Smooth out the writing adding anything necessary to make sure it flows correctly.

2.Check for typos.

3.Double check punctuation - though this one is a toughie for me. I'm a firm believer that most writers should go to a comma AA group. My crit group adds comma's to my sub's that I would never dare put there. This is again the drag of my day job. My undergrad was in Communication but specific to business. So, press releases, memos, public speaking, etc. And one of my lit professors despised comma's and I guess it stuck! :) I have to force myself to add them in.

4.Double check for repetitive words.

5.Double check for my overused words - "could" is really my verb of choice, not "was." Then there's the weed "that" and the worm "just." And let's not forget the over use of gestures! Some I allow to fly …

Finally, finally, finally done!

Yes, I am super excited to say that I have completed the final revision of my current MS. I am exhausted, mentally and physically but it is done!

This was very much a rewrite as opposed to revision. In total, I would say I applied four revisions and this complete rewrite to the book, and oddly enough the word count didn't really move that much. Maybe 2,000 words.

So now, it is out with readers and hopefully soon I can begin the grueling query process. Wish me luck! :)

M.B.

What's your greatest writing vice?

Mine? This and sites in general. A book (other than my own). There are many, many, many reasons that I can come up with to not write/revise/polish/repeat. So what got me thinking about this topic?

I am a busy writing person. I have a critique group that requires 2 chapter reads a week. I have a critique partner (Hi!) that I critique a couple of chapters a week. And also, I have a few people that request that I read/edit for them. This weekend, alone, I critiqued around 60,000 words--all while my parents were in town! So, explain to me exactly why I am unable to edit MY work in that quick of an amount of time?

Laziness? Probably.

Fear? Definitely.

But ya wanna know the real issue here? (And I am betting my favorite pair of 7's that you are the same way. ) The issue is that I am unable to see my work objectively. And I do not mean, that I think my work is fantastic and therefore cannot see the weeds. Oh no, I see lots and lots of weeds. So many so that I spray killer on my work to deat…

Not writing = productive writing?

I just returned from a 10 day roadtrip up the eastern side of the U.S. I live in a sub of Atlanta, GA. We first drove to SC to drop off my Cocker Spaniel with my mom (thanks Mom!), then on to Charlotte, NC, Washington D.C., Philly, then finally landed in Shelter Island, NY (where my husband has family).

I had every intention of finishing up my current revision on my WIP (just a couple of chapters left to double check), but it didn't happen. I was just too slammed and I had no internet in NY. As fate would have it, I ended up not writing at all for 10 days. I did a little line editing on a hardcopy I printed before hand, but otherwise I re-read Hunger Games and enjoyed the chaos that is vacation. But an amazing thing happened. I was more motivated than before the vacation. I line edited 2/3rds of my book, reworked a few chapters. I have been home for 3 hours and have accomplished more than I did the entire week before my vacation. So, does not writing = productivity? Do we need brea…

Helpful query sites...

As promised, I am submitting a list of helpful query sites. I should preface this by saying that I cheated. I took a query workshop b/c the dang thing freaked me out, and I am so glad I did. So the first on my list is the workshop, which I adored! A few things that I have found interesting on querying. Regardless of what others will tell you, it is a big deal. You wanna know why? Because it is your resume. It is your opportunity to say - "I am fantastic, and this will prove it." And by "fantastic" I mean you are prepared and professional, not that you SAY how fantastic you are in the query. If you do that I will block you from my blog! :) So, while there is no need to go crazy about it, do take the time to sell yourself. I have always told applicants and newbie's in the job world that resumes and interviews are like cold calling and warm calling. You know, the sales terminology. A resume is cold calling. That HR rep or hiring manager doesn't know you from a…

Are you afraid of the next step? I am.

I recently threw all caution to the wind and entered the July Secret Agent contest. And though winning would be awesome, I didn't enter to win. I entered to test the water. I will be querying in a month--as I mentioned a few posts ago. I just finished a stellar query workshop with C.J. Redwine (yes I recommend it!) and have dived into the synopsis stage head first. I am nervous! So I decided to test the water and enter the very popular Secret Agent contest.

Now I am a tough cookie. I can take heavy criticism and smile back in thanks. Yes, that is the sort of critique partner that I am. I crit heavy and expect it in return. So why exactly did I cringe at the first sub-par comment on my submission? I have learned that I am a perfectionist. I would rather get horrible reviews than "so-so" reviews. Ya know? Go big or go home is definitely my motto. My writing cannot be simply okay. It has to be great and the hook has to slice through as it takes you to the next page. For this…

Helpful synopsis writing posts/sites

So I am working on a synopsis for my current MS and if querying is scary these things are downright ghostly.

What to do? I have found 8 sites that I found helpful. Each link details the specifics of a synopsis and thought for those of you in my shoes it may be nice to have a few sources in one place. So here goes:

1. Nathan Bransford's post on writing a synopsis:
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/08/how-to-write-synopsis.html

2. Query Tracker:
http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/02/in-short-writing-novel-synopsis-that.html

3. Guide to Literary Agents:
www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/blog/How+To+Write+A+Novel+Synopsis.aspx

4. FM Writers:
http://www.fmwriters.com/Visionback/Issue%2015/workshop.htm

5. Helene Boudreau: Author and regular on Verla Kay (I LOVE how easy this one makes it!)
http://www.heleneboudreau.com/?p=863

6. Fiction Writer's Connection:
http://www.fictionwriters.com/tips-synopsis.html

7. Diana Peterfreund's blog post: I found this very helpful!
http://www.dianapeterfreun…

Inspiration and kid stories

I am re-reading A Wrinkle in Time and began to think over how this book inspired me as a child. I was an avid reader even as a very young child, but this is the book that truly inspired me to want more out of reading and eventually lead to my love of writing.

I still remember checking it out from the library and being so enthralled with the story that I begged my mom to buy it for me at the next book fair - remember those? I am convinced, now MANY years later, that the detailed descriptions in this book helped shape my creative mind. If Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace could move out of this world to save Dr. Murray then surely I could do anything I wanted, right? Amazing thought really, but books do inspire children. They cause them to think, to push the envelope of this world, and to reach out for the impossible.

For me, publishing in the children's market should always be about inspiring growth and thought in your readers. If you are doing it for the money, what's the point? …

A little about printing...

Every printer that exists has a prepress department. Every printer that exists has a proofing/editing department (which all too often falls on the CSRs for that printer). So how is a publisher different from a printer?

I have worked with both. At my previous job I worked for a magazine publisher. My job was to train staff across the country on book formatting so when that regional office sold ad space they kept in mind the layout necessary to work for their regional magazine. We are talking spreads here and signatures. I had a lot of fun with that job, but realized quickly that I needed to know more about the printing side of the business. I can tell you that nothing drives a printer crazier than a graphic artist that does not understand printing. They will send over beautiful designs for marketing collateral just to have us turn around and say - this is set for RGB, you didn't add a bleed, your dimensions are off, your fonts are not embedded, and etc, etc, etc.

So I left the magazi…

Are we too advanced?

Ugh - it has been a bad day. I turn 30 on Tuesday and my body has decided to fight the turn (which I blame on my ditching Yoga class for the last few months). I have a disk in my spine freaking out so I go to a specialist who, as I am walking in the door, tells me that my appointment has to be cancelled because their "system is down." I stare at the attendant like she is speaking some language that I am not privy to understanding and say "So you are telling me that you are hinging your entire business on a computer system and if that system goes down you are unable to treat your patients?" The admin looked down and then tried to explain how advanced the system indeed is and that without it they are simply unable to pull any of their patients' information.

I work in a customer service type role so I never try to go off on the person giving the information. That admin has no say whatsoever in the problem or the solution. But boy was it tough.

But this did make me t…

Writers that do not read?

The other day or month or so (I have no clue but this did happen) I ran across someone studying creative writing with the career goal of becoming a writer. The person had no idea that I enjoy writing and I didn't offer up the info as that can sometimes shut a person up if he/she doesn't feel as "in the know." So instead I asked about this person's writing interests, which logically lead to this person's reading interests. With that I received the reply "Oh, I don't read."

Yeah...

Ok...

Hmm...

It stopped me short. I have never met a writer that didn't enjoy reading. Have you? It really stunned me. Why would you want to do something for a living that you yourself do not enjoy? Ya know? So after a minute of picking my jaw off the floor and pushing my bulging eyes back into their sockets, I asked. The response ran something like "It's boring." And mind you, I am not talking about some high school kid. This is an adult, going back to sc…