I'm in the middle of the second/third draft of Safe (post-apocalyptic scifi novel), scheduled to be released August 2013! Here's a sneak peek!! FYI it hasn't been sent to the editor yet, so there's probably mistakes...
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I finally attended my first creative-writing-group meeting. I wasn't sure what to expect. In fact, one week prior I received an email from the group coordinator reminding everyone to turn in a piece/excerpt/short-story for the rest of the group to critique. Since I never attended a meeting before, I was positive nobody would graciously read my work, much less take any interest in it. Nevertheless, I turned in the first two chapters of my first draft of Safe and sent an email with it. I let everyone know I was new, and if they had the chance to review my writing, great, and if not, no big deal. I was looking forward to the meeting no matter what.
What happened when I arrived? It took me twenty minutes to find the place, I hadn't been to that specific library since I was a little girl. I remembered the location as if I had just moved to town. In other words, besides the address, I had no idea where it was. And after almost driving the wrong way down one-way streets & allies, I turned onto the next street and found it. The meeting room was upstairs. As I walked in, two men and one lady sat at table in front of me. Fortunately I had met Sherry Garland, the lady, the day before at a writing workshop. I was very excited to meet someone who had actually been published countless times.
Long story short, there were 4 people total at the meeting (including me). And I was the only one that turned in any writing. AND they all read it. I was so surprised! That's the good news. There's not really bad news, unless you count having to delete chapter one from my manuscript. HA!
This is where I gained a lot of insight into how my writing would be perceived by the average reader. Someone who didn't know me, and had no reason to be overly nice. I wanted to hear it like it was. The good and the bad.
The group went around one by one letting me know their thoughts. Each of them seemed to like the story idea and was really interested in what was to happen next (chapter three). And each of them felt that chapter one was lacking in the attention grabbing department. Two of them thought my main character actually had 'vines' like a plant or multiple arms like an alien. Let's just say I was relieved to hear this. Why relieved? Because, if that's what they thought, than other readers would think so as well. They told me that chapter one was alright, I just needed to move/delete/add-it-in-somewhere-else; take out the first page (about 8 paragraphs). They all liked how chapter two sped up and definitely gained their attention. In fact, if they weren't critiquing it, they each would've probably stopped reading after the first page. THAT'S IMPORTANT. I was so happy to know this.
An idea was also brought up that maybe I should make the two main characters best-friends versus boyfriend/girlfriend. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to make this switch. However, if I don't, then I really need to explain more about their relationship. They felt it was too vague/easy, and the guys in the group mentioned that it wasn't realistic how the boyfriend was acting/reacting in those first two chapters. This is something I definitely will be working on as I write the second draft.
I have some work to do! And I'm happy that multiple people read my first draft. If you're a new writer, or even if you've self-published a couple of books already, it's never too late to do things the right way. The right way being, take your time, have people other than family/friends read your manuscript and be willing to kindly accept feedback. It's the most important part of writing. Without all of these people, you're only limiting your book from being better.
I plan on having the second draft written by the end of April and then I'll be re-reading it over the month of May. I've already contacted Cynthia Shepp to edit my book in June. Once she's done with it, I'm hoping to have it available on Kindle & Nook Aug 1! And I look forward to the future reviews, good and bad. ;-).
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This past weekend was packed with tons of useful information; I attended my first writer's workshop and the following day went to a meeting for a creative writing group I joined three weeks prior. Don't get me wrong, I've had coffee with a fellow friend (aspiring writer) before, but it doesn't come close to the helpful advice I obtained from these events. I hope the following information is as helpful to you as it was for me if you're a self-published writer OR an aspiring writer. And if you haven't attended a workshop or joined a writing group, THEN YOU NEED TO NOW! IF there's not one in your area, start-one (on meetup.com). The group I'm a part of is fairly new, but someone had to start it. Let it be you. There's other groups in my area (not many) however, they meet during the week which doesn't work with my schedule.
I really wanted to start with what I learned yesterday at the creative writing group, but I'm one of those chronological keep it order type of people. So I'm starting with the workshop that happened on Saturday.
Firstly, when I found out about this workshop, I wasn't going to miss it for anything. I even skipped going out of town, a night away with my hubby, in order to be there. And it was worth it! Chances like these don't come around often, and I'm serious about becoming a better writer. Isn't that every author's goal?
At this workshop, it was more about the technical part of becoming self-published OR traditionally published. An area in between, called hybrid publishing was introduced to me. Something I didn't know really existed, but made since once I found out what it was. The speaker of the workshop was Erin K. Casey; a published writer who also works as an editor and book coach. Her background and how she came to where she is today was fascinating, you can check her website out for more info (http://www.erin-casey.com/).
So what is hybrid publishing?
These are smaller publishing companies, that sometime work under parent publishers who will take your book and publish it for you. They have their own staffing in regards to editors, designers, proofreaders, marketing etc. The catch is you have to pay them, and it can costs between $500-$5000. However, they rarely ever turn a book down, and if you choose a reputable hybrid publishing company, then they will make sure your book is well designed (the interior look, exterior too) edited, and all the works so that it can stand-out well within the book market. There's also a ton of bad publishers out there, people who simply register a name and throw your book together for you. Be careful of these.
A few hybrid publishers that were recommended were: Greenleaf Book Group, WestBow Press (Thomas Nelson), Author House, She Writes Press (is a new one), Tate Publishing and GypsyHeart Press, etc. A good hybrid company will have marketing connections, thus getting your book out to a broader audience.
If you're like me, and don't make a lot of money at writing books yet and are fairly technical savy and have a good editor, then maybe the hybrid choice isn't for you. I've never printed actual copies of any of my books yet, but when I do, I'll be looking at Lightning Source and Create Space. If you choose Lightning Source, then look at signing up to be on their distributor list (something like $12/year). This will allow your book to be in catalogs at bookstores that don't carry a physical copy of your book. Thus allowing potential buyers to easily purchase your book if they haven't found it online yet.
Why does it matter what the interior part of my book looks like? This was also something new that I learned. I'm not talking about font, chapters etc. I simply am referring to things such as the margins of your book. There were many books at this workshop, and one key to a quick giveaway that your book has been self-published is the jam packed fitting of your story on the page. There needs to be a clear outer and inner margin when your books is printed.
What are the different types of editing? There is copy editing, content development editing, and proofreading. Basically you can hire an editor (that works in your genre) to help you take your manuscript apart and piece it back together in a story-line that attracts a potential reader much better, or you can simply hire an editor to give you their opinion/feedback about your story as well as fix the grammatical mistakes. After both of these are completed, YOU SHOULD STILL hire someone to proofread your final manuscript. All three of these come at different costs. And you get what you pay for.
If you're like me and don't have thousands of dollars to spend on each book you write, then try looking around for reputable editors that work with self-published writers. One that I have found, and that I plan on contacting for my book Safe, is Cynthia Shepp Book Reviews and Editing. I have her on my Facebook and kept seeing her name pop up here and there on other writing sites. Then one day I was reading a book and when I finished it, I turned to the beginning to see who edited it. Cynthia's name was there. From this, I have gathered that she does good work and has reasonable prices. I haven't contacted her yet, but I definitely plan to.
A book that was recommended for self-publishers is APE by Guy Kawasaki.
There's so much more that I learned at this workshop, but too much to fit on a blog. Maybe I'll add more on a different day.
Stay tuned for what I learned at my creative writing group meeting. THE valuable feedback that I received upon the group critiquing the first two chapters of my first draft of Safe. I'll blog about it later this week! (The difference between first drafts and second drafts)
Good luck with your writing endeavors!
Okay, so I'm a day late and still need to find other authors to tag. If you're interested in being tagged let me know!
So here's the deal I've been tagged, I’m it. This is a fun game for authors because we rock (at least in our heads). Being “IT” means that you share information about your “work in progress” also known as “WIP” The Rules 1.) Give credit (including a link) to the Author who tagged you. 2.)Play by the rules, therefore you must post the rules! 3.)You MUST answer all 10 questions (below) some are quite hard but do your best. 4.)List five other Authors with links at the end that you have “tagged” so that the game can continue.
The writer who tagged me is Maggie Thom. She's in the middle of two WIPs; Tainted Waters will be published at the end of April and Deceitful Truths will be published later this fall. Congrats Maggie! And thanks for tagging me!
Q1.) What is the title or working title of your WIP?
Safe (originally titled diVINE Order) hopefully to be published summer 2013
Q2.) What genres does your novel fall under?
Young Adult Science Fiction (post apocalyptic read)
Q3.) What actors (Dream Cast) would you choose to play the characters in a film version?
Rachel Weisz (for Penelope)
Colin Farrell (for James)
Josh Lucas (for Finnick)
Q4.) What is the main outline for your book?
Not quite sure how to answer this one...Hmmm. What I can say is it's fast-pace, lots of action and coming of age realizations to the reality around them. Guns, knifes, bombs, vials, medicine etc. What more do you need?
Here's the summary: Penny, a teenage girl, has been genetically mutated along with other inhabitants by a vaccine given to their grandparents who settled the Land, an island. This particular serum has caused everyone to develop vine like marks all over their bodies along with enhanced abilities passed down to their children. Penny is forced to run for her life and evade capture when her dad, a top-notch scientist, commits a fatal act by stealing vaccines that he believes are being used to treat the same plague on a nearby Land; an island where his other daughter lives, someone that was believed to have died at childbirth. This notion is only the beginning to a mountain of false knowledge.
Penny and her boyfriend are forced to run, encountering events that will forever change their lives.
Q5.) Will your book be Indie published/self published, or represented by an agency and sold to a traditional publisher?
I've gone back and forth with this question many times! I've decided to self-publish, however I will following all the necessary steps that other writers follow when they traditionally publish. This book deserves my utmost attention and you can follow my journey with it by reading my previous blogs.
Q6.) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It took me day and night, and middle of the day, etc repeating this scenario over a period of two months. I sent off my first draft to a couple of readers and from their feedback, I will be adding a couple key details as well as chapters before moving onto the next step. (meanwhile it's in my drawer while I'm working on other projects [such as creating ebook covers], hoping to re-read Safe with a fresh set of eyes and finish the second draft)
Q7.) What other books in this genre would you compare your book to?
That's a good question! I don't know. I think a reader can define that answer better, it's so raw coming from me. I can tell you what it's not. There are no zombies in this book (however I LOVE the entire zombie idea). It's a real-time book with a science fiction story line that takes place after the world has ended.
Q8.) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I've been wanting to write a post apocalyptic novel for a long time. Upon finishing Silently Screaming (a literary YA book) I took some time off and read for fun & dove into a lot of movies. There isn't just one book or movie that geared me up for writing Safe. However, I will say, I got the idea for the character Finnick from watching the movie Poseidon (Josh Lucas). And a great PA read that I really enjoyed was Outside by Shalini Boland. I also love fight scenes from movies such as Bourne Supremacy and the feeling a viewer gets from watching the movie Priest. It was fun coming up with the world that Penny and James live in.
Q9.) What else about the book might pique readers attention?
Safe also has a bit of romance in it, it HAS to with characters like Penny and James.
Q10.) Five other Indie Authors you have tagged
Okay, since my last blog post, I finally figured out what a second draft looks like (in regards to a manuscript).
If you're just tuning into this blog, let me inform you what it's about---> writing - patience - publishing. And all that goes with it. If it comes easy to you, great! I love writing too, but there's so much more, especially if you're an independent writer that takes it seriously.
I finally received feedback from a couple of readers about my first draft; I was waiting patiently because their feedback is CRITICAL. A reader can see so much more than the writer of a particular story.
In my last post, I said that I was putting my draft in a drawer for six weeks, AND that six weeks is not over yet. However, now I know the things I need to change for my second draft before handing it off to an editor. YES, that means after many weeks and months of thought, I've decided NOT to query agents (who if I was lucky enough to find one, then would get in touch with their publisher contacts who also have their own editors). Why? You ask.
There are a couple of reasons why I've decided to stay on the Independent route:
1. It can take months to hear back from agents (and I would need to contact as many as possible. How many? I don't know. But from what I've researched....MANY!) That's okay, I don't mind hard work and I've already put together a list of addresses, however I'm not going to use them this time around.
2. My novel is teetering on 55,000-60,000 word range. Let's be realistic. Yes, books such as The Notebook written by Nicholas Sparks is on the shorter side, however it's NICHOLAS SPARKS. He can write what he wants, no matter how short or how long, and it's going to get published. The man is a great writer! Not to say that I'm not, however I'm not as well known nor do I already have a book traditionally published with a well-known publisher. Maybe one day! And from the research I've done, unless your book is in the 120,000 word range, than you probably won't have much luck querying agents the first time around.
3. I simply love the excitement and fun with Independent Publishing. I control what my cover looks like, I can write what I want to write, and I don't have to wait years to get it published. It's a wonderful option and I'm grateful for it!
In my last post, I didn't know what a second draft looked like. And contrary to some writers beliefs (hopefully not many), a second draft isn't simply your first draft put away for a long period (months/years) of time until you decide to pull it out again (with minor edits here and there). No, a second draft means that certain scenes might be deleted, added, history on a specific character could need more explaining, etc. So here are the things that will be changed when I work on Safe's second draft:
My second draft---
1. There needs to be another chapter or two added to the end to give the reader more information about what happens with my main character's future. The feedback from my readers were that they wanted to know more, so I'll give more.
2. I need to establish more about the current situation of the lowers (a village of people). The reader wanted to know more about one of the characters named Camara and what her current life was like.
3. I need to describe more about a vial the main character has in her possession and what it does and doesn't do.
4. I have to add some minor (but important) details to the ending (I can't tell you what that is, because you have to read the story when it becomes available)
I'm glad that I had more than one person read the story, because each gave me their own opinions and views which helped me know what needed to be changed. The great news is....THEY LOVED THE STORY, which I'm very excited about. I LOVE IT TOO! The action mixed with sci-fi all in the midst of post-apocalyptic chaos, made it fun to write!
Stay tuned for future blogs!
If this is your first time reading my blog, let me fill you in on what it's about--->writing your novel and getting it published. I've written a couple of books, however, I've only ever published them myself. I've never looked into traditional publishing, but this time I am. This is my first novel (only 50k words, but that's a lot for me since I normally write in the short story to novella range), and even though I'm not sure whether or not I'm going to pursue an agent, I still want to follow all the necessary steps for THIS novel that I'm working on. At the end, I'll decide which is the best route for me. Hopefully, if you're an independent writer and a beginner (I'll probably be a beginner for a long time) then maybe this blog will be of some use to you too.
Last week I finally finished my first draft (manuscript) of Safe (changed name). I've re-read it once or twice and made the necessary corrections and have handed it over to three of my family members to read. From there I'm hoping that I'll get some feedback, however I know family can be too nice at times. Even still, their opinions matter to me and I'm hoping they'll be able to give me bad feedback on top of the good.
Why is this time different than the last books I've written? My first three books of the Windor series were my starter books. I wrote Nicova before them (I've taken it out of publishing and probably will never put it back up for people to buy), then I started the Windor fantasy series. I've received rather good feedback about these books, but they are novelettes not novels. I love writing them and it helped me learn MY style of writing while doing so. Then I wrote Silently Screaming; for this book I posted chapter by chapter on Wattpad which was a neat experience, however once I posted a chapter, I moved onto the next. Of ALL these books, I never really wrote a second draft. Yes I re-edited and read the first draft many times, but they never changed significantly for me to be able to call them my second draft.
So for this novel, Safe, I'm trying to follow the necessary steps of traditional (indie too) writers. I use the word traditional lightly, only because I know there are a lot of amazing Independent writers that go through the same steps as a traditional writer, and yet choose to self-publish because they love it and receive great feedback from readers.
I've joined a writing group (there are only two in my area, but only one of them meets at a time that works within my crazy schedule). As I read the chapters in Your First Novel by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb it talks about how important it is to meet other writers. I have never been able to attend writing workshops or classes (hopefully I will this year), however I have now joined a writing group. And I'm really excited about it, the first meeting is in a couple of weeks. What's funny is, I joined this group and hadn't read the chapter in the book yet referring to its importance. I guess I was on the right track!
What is a second draft? This draft of your manuscript might include new scenes, deleted old scenes, some scenes might be moved to a different chapter, completely rewritten characters, changed ending (hopefully not the whole book). Quite honestly, it's hard to tell you what a second draft is when this is my first time doing so. But these are the steps I will follow to get there
1. I'm taking 6 weeks off (or at least a few weeks), putting the novel in my drawer and I'm not LOOKING AT IT. Meanwhile, my family is reading it. This is hard, because I WANT to move forward with the novel that I'm so excited about. But I'm being patient and putting it away!
2. Working on different projects while it sits in my drawer. For me, I'm working on submitting short stories to sci-fi magazines. (I've read that it's a good idea to obtain reputable credit for a writer's name if they ever plan on going the traditional publishing route). I've bought a few magazines and am reading them to get a feel for what type of writing they're looking for. In other words, I don't want to blindly send out queries/submissions to magazine editors.
3. After six weeks, I'll be taking in the critical feedback from my readers and re-read my book with a different approach. I've read a number of times how writers should PRINT OUT THE PAPERS, don't just read your manuscript on a computer screen. Print them out, lay the scenes out in choronilogical order and see if it's missing something. The book I'm reading stresses how important it is a for a writer to be able to polish his/her own work; Don't send your first draft to an editor and have them tell you what it's missing, you need to be able to do this for yourself as well. Literary Agents want to see polished manuscripts, not just edited first drafts.
4. Read my book aloud in front of a few groups. I'm not sure if I'm ready for this one, but hopefully I will be. If I'm able, I'll read a chapter or two aloud to a writing group (if they'll be so kind) or a friend, and find other groups by going to books stores etc. (still not sure if I'm going to be able to do this one)
Below are two urls that the book, Your First Novel, suggests:
www.pw.org (for a directory of writers to find a group for yourself) Prior to reading the chapter, I found a group by going to meetup.com.
www.aar-online.org (here you'll find a list of names and addresses of every agent member. Every agent of this group has to prove they sold a certain number of books within a certain period of time etc)
If you haven't read the book Your First Novel by Rittenberg and Whitcomb, you should. It's a great read for a writer trying to hone their craft and break into the big writing world.
So I wasn't going to update my blog anytime soon, for the very reason that I'm in the middle of editing diVINE Order. BUT I knew that readers/writers such as yourself might like to see where I am in the thought process for publishing my new novel since my last post.
For a couple of days after the last post I had been researching legitimate literary agencies and trying my best to discard any agencies that didn't seem reputable OR if I couldn't find a website, and I'd put a line through them so that I'll know not to look them up again. There are two websites where I obtained a good list of agencies to query, however THERE ARE SO MANY. Which is a good thing, but it takes that much longer to compile. I'm probably only 5% through all the information available. Here are the sites I've been using so far, in case you want to look at them too:
Literary Market Place (I obtained this site by looking on the Penguin Group Publisher's website: I did not sign up for a paid acct, I used the free search option and then looked up the addresses of the agencies on the web: http://www.literarymarketplace.com/lmp/us/AdvSearchform.asp
Journal Stone is a blog that I came across when I was specifically looking up the publisher and agent for a novella that I found out Barnes & Nobles. The blog has a lot of listings for agents and also give their site as well:
From these I've started my list, HOWEVER after reading more in that book (Your First Novel) as well as info from online. Most publishers don't consider manuscripts (book drafts) less than 85000 words (and that's the low end). My book is teetering at 51000 words. I'm very happy with the length, the story is really great, but I'm not sure if it'll be even considered if I do in fact query for it. So do I still go this route or do I go the self-publishing route?? This is the question I've been asking myself since the beginning, and I seem to go back and forth about it every day. For now, I'll be finishing my first-draft-editing and then I'll send diVINE ORDER (name might change) to three people who then will read it and give me critical (I hope critical, I want the bads and the goods) feedback so that I can change/add/takeout to the draft. Once I tweak it the second time, I'm hoping I'll have an answer to my former question.
Here's a non-official forum (from NANO Writers) I found in regards to word counts and thought it was interesting: http://www.nanowrimo.org/en/forums/reaching-50-000/threads/68517
Are you an aspiring writer like me who has self-published short-stories, novellas, YA Novels, etc?
I've been writing since 2008, but I've never felt my writing was competitive enough to withstand the traditional publishing world. I always hoped that a novel would evenutally jump itself out of my mind and I'd just 'know' that it has the makings of a great story ready to be queried to Agents. And now I believe I have, BUT I'm still new to the entire agent/publishing world and wanted to delve deeper in order to find out the necessary steps a writer must know. SO if this sounds like you, then today's blog and future blogs in this category will hopefully be of much help to you as the researching has been to me.
Let me start off by saying my blog before last now makes me laugh and shows how little I knew about this subject and how naive I was with how publishing and finding an agent actually works.
At the end of today's blog, I'll list a few url sites that I first found information on and because of them, I went to Barnes & Nobles for more info. Why didn't I just do online research accompanied with ebooks from Amazon? Because the internet is loaded with too much information (lots false too) and too many books to choose from. I went to B&N to help narrow down my search to the books that are published on their shelves and started from there. First I went to the Teen Fiction section (because that's what I like writing) and opened up a few books that are similar to the scifi/fantasy kind that I write. Then I wrote down who their Publishers were. From there I moseyed over to the (can't remember section name) section filled with how-to write etc books and searched through them until I found a couple that I felt would be most helpful to me. Yes, I've written books, so don't let the book picture above 'Your First Novel' fool you, because it has valuable information for writers such as myself; for instance: the nuts and bolts of your story/what to do after your first draft/what agents are for/how to submit a manuscript (if they ask for it) etc .
For today's blog, I want to start with the three main basics that confused me in the beginning:
What an Agent Does (from the above book): "attempts to sell your book to a reputable publishing house. Keeps up to date with editors interests as well as their contract information. Negotiates the terms of your contracts with publishers. And works on commission."
The above knowledge is vital!!! Because there are multiple agents online that request money from the writer in order to use them for their time. NO reputable agent will ask for money ahead of publishing, they work on commission only. If you make money, they make money. If an Agent asks for money, don't use them! And if they find you, instead of you finding them, this also can be a big red flag.
Query: A query is a one page pitch for your book idea. You do not submit anything more or anything less, or it will most likely be thrown out. I'm still learning more about a query outline and in future blogs will post an example of a good one I find.
What's next after the query (something you should send to lots of agents, not just one): If an agent actually likes your idea, then they will probably ask for the first 50 pages (manuscript) or something of the like. I'm also researching this, but from what I have found, there is a specific kind of outline, such as double spaced, 12 point font, your author name in the top corner of every page, non stapled etc.
And in regards to both the query and the manuscript, agents don't want to anything but your basic business computer paper, normal fonts, non-smoke smelled, etc. Be as professional as possible.
For now, as much as I loveeeee self-publishing and getting my work out their immediately to the public. I am now going to take the patient route and put my book to the side while I read/research more how-to books including the one above. Then I will be re-reading it later (in a few weeks) to find out what needs padding and what needs to be deleted. HOWEVER, from what I've read in these how-to books, it's safe to query multiple agents while your book isn't finished yet. It takes time to hear back from them.
And just for your information: Many Publishing houses WILL NOT even consider a manuscript without it coming from a reputable Agent. So first on a writers to-do list is to find a good agent. Once I come up with a list of names in my genre (don't send to agents that don't work within your kind of writing), I'll make sure to post my findings.
Below are the URLs I promised to list:
Okay, so two posts in one day is a record breaker for me! But everyone is asleep and I'm watching Beauty and the Beast, the cw show. Surprisingly, I find myself somewhat hooked on the show, even though there are many unrealistic and cheesy parts. If you're a watcher you know what I mean!! But I love the main girl, Catherine, she's from the old Superman series that I watched relentless years ago and who can't like the Vincent character. I agree the writing has gotten better, but rather still cheesy. I'm curious where the story is going to turn, and really don't like that current girl whose his ex-fiance.
By the way, my book Silently Screaming is free tomorrow Sat, Feb 16. Hope you had a great Valentines Day!