I got my first comments back from my first beta reader and I’m so relieved someone likes my story! Since this was my very first reader there were lots of silly things to fix, but by later today my very first TEENAGER will be reading it.
Another benefit of my wonderful network of writing friends is a few of them have offered up their offspring to critique my book. I’m nervous because not only are they my target audience and KNOW what they like, their moms will read it — and they’ve never read my work. Double scary.
I’m also giving my mom her first crack at it. She’s read all my novels and gives wonderful feedback, and I figure I’m safe since it isn’t a synopsis.
A few days ago, friend of the blog Adam posted about his writing style and how he’s okay with the fact that it’s different than some of the so-called “experts”. (That’s me totally paraphrasing.) His points got me thinking.
I’m a clean writer. I write chronologically and cannot wrap my head around those who write in bits and pieces.
I don’t include a lot of detail, including hair color, height, etc. I rarely mention what a character is wearing unless it ties into the plot somehow, and even then I trim it down in edits.
I DO go into the emotions of my characters, what they’re thinking, and include a lot of snarky thoughts.
That may or may not be for everyone, but that’s what I prefer to read and that’s how I choose to tell my stories.
Another thing I’ve known but only recently accepted is: I really don’t like short stories. I’ve enjoyed writing the handful of flash fiction pieces I’ve written, and it was great getting two of them published, but my heart’s not in it. I don’t like READING them, so why would I subject that on others? Considering how much less free time I have now that I’m back in the working world, I choose to empty my mind of any niggling worries that I’m not doing everything I should be as a writer, and instead focusing on the parts I truly enjoy: novels.
Saturday morning I rolled out of bed, fired up the laptop, and edited the last 27 pages of my manuscript. My friends on Facebook congratulated me, I danced a little jig, then I went through the document to check that my chapter numbers were in order.
And that, apparently, was the straw that broke the PC’s back.
About 100 pages in I got an error that my firewall wasn’t on so I did what I always do and click to turn it on. (I get this a lot. I check, it’s always on.) Then I tried to save.
Another fun game my PC likes to play is after about half an hour it no longer allows me to save. My solution is I add the date to the end of the file, then toggle between the master file and that version while I continue to work. This, in theory, gives me two current versions. (I’ve learned over the weekend that this is not a ‘normal’ PC thing. As a Mac person, I just assumed this was just another joy of Windows.)
So on Saturday I tried saving the document with a different name, but that didn’t work either. And that’s when I noticed that the file with that day’s date was gone. Vanished. Poof.
As was the master file.
I tried saving it to the previous day’s version and in an instant that file disappeared as well. I continued to get warnings from my anti-virus software, and it kept insisting my files were corrupt and I had to restart. Not knowing what else to do, I restarted.
While it restarted I rushed to my desktop computer, which is linked to the same backup system, and the files had already been deleted from there as well.
Three days of work — 80 pages — were gone.
Thankfully my genius writing friends (I believe it was Adam) pointed out that Dropbox has a Restore feature that rescues deleted files. And he was right. I was able to recover all the deleted files and ended up losing 17 pages of work instead of 80. Since I’d JUST made those changes they were still fresh in my mind and I was able to redo them in half an hour.
Before I had Dropbox I emailed myself a copy of my manuscript at the end of every writing or editing session, but I’ve fallen out of that habit. Had I done that Friday night I would have had an unaffected version safe in my email.
The moral of the story: BACKUP!
Do you have a computer-related horror story you’d like to share?
(and if you sign up for Dropbox via the above link I get bonus storage space!)
A string of recent political snafus have got me thinking: who’s responsible for checking facts?
As writers, it’s considered part of our job to do research. Sure, we’re allowed to stretch the truth or bend things to fit our stories, but basic things need to be true. (I’m excusing fantasy & sci-fi from this.) As with the general rules of writing, you have to know a rule, or truth, before you can break it.
So color me surprised when one political figure after another completely screws up facts that most middle-school children know. As much as it pains me, I can stomach the fact that people can’t know everything, but these politicians have advisors and staffers. In theory, someone on that staff is a fact checker.
Telling an audience that the founders of our country abolished slavery is inexcusable, especially given how easy it is to find the truth.
Thoughts? Are my expectations too high?
I have several things I’d like to talk about, so today’s post will be a hodge-podge of things.
First, I’m glad Friday’s post resounded with so many of you. I kind of figured it would, but what I didn’t expect was the people I consider friends worrying that they’ve somehow offended me. I’m by no means a delicate flower, nor have I received such hurtful comments that I’ve been tempted to cancel my online accounts (as some of you have), but I do think it’s fair to request a little decency. Glad you all agree.
Second, I’m almost halfway through editing the first draft of Flicker. It’s going well and I’m really enjoying the story. I’ve even been overheard snerking at several one-liners that I forgot about. I’d hoped to be closer to finishing by now so I could pass it along to my beta readers, but life has gotten in the way, as it’s apt to do.
Third, I’m going to have a contest!! Today marks eleven months since I returned to the United States, and I think we should celebrate the one-year mark with a party. Or at the very least a giveaway. I’m still working out the details but there will be prizes. Stay tuned for details.
Finally, if you’ve ever wonder about Urban Dogsledding, check out my post at An Army of Ermas.
I’m being very good. I haven’t opened my wip yet. I really really want to, but I said I’d let it sit for two weeks and I’m determined to do that.
In the meantime I’ve started brainstorming the plot for book two. My plan is to have synopses ready for books two and three when it comes time to query book one. The one I haven’t even read yet. What can I say? I’m a planner. I haven’t written any notes yet, but it’s percolating.
In the meantime, I’ve prepped my laptop for some serious work. I think you all know I’m a Mac baby at heart and while I love the freedom my laptop gives me, I despise that it’s a PC. Well, I’ve fixed that.
I cannot tell you how happy this makes me. And no I don’t have too much time on my hands.
… and I’m still on vacation!
I’m happy to report that the hiatus was successful because I finished the first draft of Flicker! Woohoo! I really upped my daily word count the final week of the year (as those of you who are friends with me on Facebook can attest to) (although really I could totally be making all of this up…) and finished with 5000 words yesterday.
Iam really happy with how the first draft has turned out. Now I’m forcing myself to read a couple books and give myself at least two weeks before diving back in.
Even though I know things that need fixing.
And I already know how I’m going to fix them.
In other writing news, I’ve tentatively decided to stop querying After the Fall. I really feel like YA is the genre that fits me best, and it doesn’t make sense to query a different genre when I’m just starting out. That doesn’t mean I don’t still love ATF. I truly believe the story has merit and figure I’ll hook an agent with my YA trilogy (that’s right…) then spring the women’s fiction on them after that.
Yes, I probably just jinxed myself for eternity. What better way to kick off the new year?
I know it goes against the purpose of NaNo, but I hereby declare December DeceFiniMo: December is the Month I’m Gonna Finish My Novel. Yes, I realize that acronym is all kinds of wrong, but that’s how it was said to me (thanks Stacey!) and I like it.
As I said on Monday, I’m past the halfway mark (hovering at 36,000 words) and the goal for young adult is 60,000, I shouldn’t have a problem. Never mind that Christmas, New Year’s, and a bazillion of my friends’ and family members’ birthdays occur in the next 33 days, I’m determined to finish.
I’ve read in multiple places that for the most part, this is not the best time to query agents, so I plan to hold off on sending out more for After the Fall until after the new year. As of today, I’ve had two partial requests out of about twenty queries, one of which is still out. I don’t think those stats are fabulous so I also plan to take another look at my query. I’ve had a couple suggestions that have my wheels churning, so we’ll see what happens.
Well… it looks like my prediction of not reaching 50K in 30 days was accurate. I have, however, surpassed my personal goal of 30,000 words, and that’s with only writing 1000 words in the past six days.
The good news? I have a solid start on my novel. Because it’s young adult I’m aiming for roughly double what I’ve currently written. The bad news is I’m smack dab in the middle of… the middle.
I think I’m just about past the rough spot and now that I know I can write 1000 words in an hour, I figure I should be able to finish this draft in another month.
For those of you who participated, how many word did you write this month?
It’s that time — the midway NaNo update. I had planned to tell you about my progress a little more often, but here we are on the downslope of November (don’t get me started on that…) and I haven’t told you how it’s going.
I knew going into NaNo as a gainfully employed person that I may not reach my goals, and not reach them I did. Well, I reached my personal goal of 1000 words per day, then played massive catchup the first weekend. I even topped my all-time daily word count and hit 4000 words in one day (in three sittings), for a grand total of 7000 words in two days.
The second week went better and I reached the NaNo goal of 1667 words almost every day. On Saturday Erica and I got together again and I wrote my daily words in one sitting. This may not sound exciting, but one of the purposes of NaNo is to train yourself to get into the habit of writing every day.
In 2008 I learned that I am able to write that much in one day. This year I’ve learned that I can write 1000 words in 45 minutes, as long as I have the story plotted out. Monday night I wrote my 1667 words in an hour and a half and passed the halfway mark (25K words).
Will I keep all of it? I hope so. I’m sure some will get cut but I don’t let myself write fluff just to reach my goal. Yesterday I only wrote 500 words, and while I’m disappointed at falling beneath my goal, I know that forcing it doesn’t work for me. I’ll catch up this weekend.
Finally, a brief excerpt. I realize I still haven’t told you the premise so this is a little out of left field, but I haven’t written my hook yet. This is the first draft, so bear with me.
Light pulses across the imitation leather of the dashboard.
Light. Dark. Light. Dark.
My eyes stutter and my heart jumps around in my chest, but I blink it away. My tongue strokes the grainy piece of cement stuck between my back teeth. The orthodontist swore he got it all, but that was as true as his promise that it wouldn’t be uncomfortable.
A tingling sensation pricks the tips of my fingers. I press them together, watching the blood shift beneath my skin. The tingling turns to those sharp needles that remind me of anything but sleep.
I press harder and my toes start tingling too. What the hell?
The dancing on the dashboard gets faster. The trees here are taller, straighter, and the sunlight strobes through the branches. My breath catches and a sudden heaviness pushes me deep into the seat.
I glance at my mom but she’s concentrating on the road, humming along with golden oldies or whatever the hell it is she listens to, oblivious to the fact that something very weird is happening to her daughter.
I close my eyes. The heaviness lifts. Too much. Now I’m floating and—
“But mom, I’m fine.”
My mom crosses the kitchen and leans against the counter. “Luz, you’re going. The dentist said your face will get all out of whack if you don’t get braces. Your entire face could change…”
A sense of déjà vu slams me over the head. I’ve had this argument. Next mom is gonna grab the stack of mail that dad set there earlier and toss it in the basket.
The words stumble out of me. “Mom…” The déjà vu doesn’t lift. This isn’t a memory. I’m not in the car anymore.
I’ve gone back to yesterday.