Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Drowning in a sea of edits...

My current writing soundtrack: Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

"The difference between the right word
and the almost right word
is the difference between
lightning and a lightning bug."

Mark Twain

This quote pretty much sums up my struggle with editing right now!

A single word can make a massive difference and I am laboring over every single word...

How can I say this in fewer words? How can I perfectly convey what I am trying to say? Am I in the right point of view? Are my tenses correct? Is that image vivid enough? Is the dialogue snappy enough?

I am drowning in a sea of 96,000 words!
So to guide me along the way, give me a framework within which to work, I bought some books about self-editing. Perhaps I can learn some new strokes that will help me keep my head above water and, maybe - just maybe - make it back to shore!


I'm also taking a plotting class called "The 'W' plot" at Hearts Through History Romance Writers.
Have you read these books? Were they helpful? Taken the class? What do you do to tame the self-editing beast?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Author Interview and Contest at Armchair Heroines

Please join us over at Armchair Heroines for an interview with Colorado author, Melissa Mayhue. This week we are talking with Melissa about her first Daughters of the Glen book, Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband.

You can comment here and at Armchair Heroines for a chance to win a signed copy of Thirty Nights with a Highland Husband!

Hope you enjoy Melissa's insights.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesday Ten: Why I Love Writing

Wordplay and Witticisms: Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

—Mark Twain

Congratulations to the contest winner over at Armchair Heroines: Bethre! Head over to AH tomorrow to hear the first installment of a progressive interview with Daughters of the Glen series author, Melissa Mayhue!

Tuesday Ten: Why I Love to Write...

1. Great Characters - men, women, children, animals...I love to get inside their heads!

2. Snappy Dialogue

3. Settings - from the exotic to the everyday

4. Plot twists

5. Character flaws and eccentricities - nobody's perfect!

6. Eliciting emotion from my reader - laughter, tears, blinding anger...bring it!

7. Finding new ways to describe everyday things

8. The feel of flying fingers along the keyboard when I'm on a roll

9. Finding the perfect word to convey exactly what I'm trying to say

10. My favorite: leaving the reader with a renewed sense of awe and wonder, a strengthened belief in love, happy endings and the presence of good in the world!

What are your favorite things about writing? What keeps bringing you back to that chair?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Turning off the monkey mind

I haven't been sleeping well lately...too many ideas and projects swirling around in my brain. But I know that if I'm not careful, that creative flow will cease. Abruptly. Especially if I can't get some rest. Plus my kids are sick of me being cranky with them because I'm tired!

So here are a couple of things I tried that seemed to help:

Progressive Relaxation: Probably nothing new to most of you. I've heard of it before but for some reason it slipped off my radar. Now I am using it when I'm sitting at the computer or laying in bed at night. Pick a starting point, the feet work best for me. Consciously flex your feet as hard as you can, then relax them. Next move to your lower legs, flex then relax. And on and on until you have relaxed your entire body or you have fallen asleep, whichever comes first. I also like to envision a ball of sparkly, white light (think sparklers at the 4th of July) starting at my feet and drifting across my entire body, completely relaxing me as it goes.

Breathing Exercises: I learned this one from Andrew Weil in his book 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. It is an ancient yogic breathing practice. You want your tongue in the yogic position. Place the tip of your tongue behind and just above your teeth on the soft skin there. Start by exhaling fully. You want to make a loud whooshing sound as you exhale. Then breathe in for a count of four. Next hold your breath for a count of seven. Then breathe out for a count of eight making the whooshing sound again. Repeat that whole cycle four times. My brain always quiets down after that one!

You can also try counting backwards along with your breathing. For example, breathe in and out, that is twenty, in and out, nineteen...keep going until your mind wanders. Keep practicing until you can get to one without losing concentration. You can start with ten if you are struggling to get to one from twenty.

Next week on Fall Back Friday, we'll talk about how taking a "breathing break" can help your writing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Author Interview & Contest at Armchair Heroines: Robin D. Owens

Hello, everybody!

Today is Word Wizard Wednesday over at Armchair Heroines featuring author is Robin D. Owens. Click through to read her interview. You can comment here and at Armchair Heroines for two entries into the contest!

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Contest Winner & Tuesday Top Ten: Editing

Wordplay and Witticisms: This word comes from the French Prusse, meaning Prussia. It has come to mean "neat or stylish".

I am thrilled to announce the winner of the autographed copy of The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn is...


E-mail me your snail mail address and your book will soon be winging its way to you! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who commented. A huge thank you to Lynda Hilburn for taking time out of her busy shedule to hang out with us!

Tomorrow we will be welcoming Robin D. Owens, author of Heart Mate and Heart Thief (among many)!

Tuesday Top Ten:

How is your manuscript reading coming along? Once you have read your entire manuscript you can jump into the editing and revising process with both feet. Here are ten things to watch for, in no particular order:

1. Character inconsistencies: You want to have a firm grasp on your characters. They need to have a goal, a motivation and a conflict that is keeping them from their goal. All of your characters' actions come from these!

2. Point of View: make sure it stays consistent. Avoid "head jumping" especially as a new writer. Your story will tighten up if you keep the number of minds the reader can "read" minimal.

3. Dialogue tags ("he said", "she said"): You have to walk a thin line here. You need enough so the reader knows who is speaking but not so many to create distraction. Be wary of using too many unique tags like "exclaimed", "answered", "replied". Readers see but don't notice "said" yet it serves the purpose of identifying the speaker. Unique tags can be even more distracting so use them sparingly.

4. The word "that": Take it out if you can. For example, "She said that Mary was coming," can be "She said Mary was coming." Too many "thats" can be distracting and slow down the pace of your writing.

5. Adverbs: If you are using a lot of "ly" words, try to find a stronger verb that doesn't need an adverb. For example, "said quietly" could be "whispered".

6. Grammar: You're an author, a word wizard. You need to have a strong, basic grasp of grammar. If you don't, get one - now, before you do anything else.

7. Spelling: See above

8. Style: Watch for run-on sentences, sentences that are confusing, overusing a specific word. For more information, check out The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. This is a good reference book to have in your library.

9. "Be" Verbs: These can slow down your story. Try to find alternatives.

10. All of the above "rules" are made to be broken: That is the beauty (or horror) of writing and editing. There are no hard and fast rules, no one way that's "right". But they can be helpful, especially for writing newbies. Rules can guide you and give you focus. They can make the daunting task of editing and revising a little less overwhelming. Then as you become more proficient (and you will), you can bend and break the rules...

Try not to bite off more than you can chew. Editing is a slow process. If you start getting tired, your mind will wander and you will miss problems. Make a page goal or take it one chapter at a time! I try to edit 10 to 15 pages a day.

Good luck and keep writing! Have questions? Put them in the comments and I will do my best to address them!

W & W Answer: "Spruced up"...the Prussians were thought to be fashionably attired. For more fun check out Orijinz.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rest and the Writer...

Wordplay and Witticisms: "Never be afraid to sit awhile and think."
~ Lorraine Hansberry
American Playwright, A Raisin in the Sun

My current writing soundtrack: Silence is golden...at least right now!

TGIF...and that means it is time for a "Fall Back Fridays" post.

Although this blog is called "No Rest for the Querying", today we are going to flout it and talk about the importance of taking it easy!

How many of us burn the candle at both ends? Yeah, that's what I figured!

In my experience, there are very few writers who just write. Many of us are the primary caregivers for our families or have jobs outside the home. So we sneak our writing in whenever we can grab a spare moment. And for many of us that comes in the early morning or late evening. Translation: we writers are seriously sleep-deprived!

So, today take twenty minutes and rest...

In his book Healthy Aging, Andrew Weil says:

"Napping is just one way of taking care of the body's need for rest. You can also lie in a hammock or just stare into space. The essence of rest is not doing - that is, being passive on both the physical and mental levels."

He goes on to say:

"The body needs rest, both to balance physical activity and to recharge the mind."

I take that to mean that resting, even a quick cat nap is good for my writing!

It's not necessarily easy to turn off our minds, and we'll address that in another post, but for today just find a place to plant yourself and "not do".

See ya' - I'm off to find a hammock!