Showing posts with label Revisions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Revisions. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2013

Senior Editor Victoria Curran is at Romance University!

We're closing in on Halloween and do I have a sweet treat for you! Victoria Curran, Senior Editor for Harlequin Heartwarming, is over at Romance University talking about conflict and raising stakes in clean romance. Check out her post titled Fifty Shades of Sweet. She makes excellent points, explains in a way that clicks and gives examples of critique comments she has given in the past.  It's truly a must read for any writer, regardless of genre.

Also, a heads up, I'm working on a website and plan to make this blog match...so if you pop by here in the near future and things look different, don't worry, you're in the right place :).

Monday is Columbus Day in the US and Thanksgiving Day for my Canadian friends, so Happy Friday, Happy Thanksgiving and have a great long-weekend!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

THE CALL!

This past Friday, May 31st, I experienced the most intense writer's rush of all.

I got The Call!

I'm overwhelmed. Humbled. Nervous. Ecstatic. You name it...a slew of emotions. I couldn't name them all if I tried. I'm not even sure I can put together a coherent call story right now. Typing on an adrenaline buzz  is tough! Keeping my thoughts straight...tougher.

I hand wrote 8 pages of 'call' story/writing journey last night. Can you tell how much fun writing a short synopsis is for me? LOL. Don't worry. I know I was getting sentimental and reminiscing. I'm editing out huge chunks, but it's still long ;)

I started writing my first romance August of 2008. Total. Pantsing. I was oblivious to craft specifics or submission protocols. I just loved reading, writing and romance...so I went for it. Ignorance can indeed be bliss because in this case, it allowed my internal editor to stay dormant (I can't seem to get her back in that state;). I finished that manuscript after the second draft.

By the end of 2008, I'd discovered an insane amount of writing information online...and just how supportive the writing community is. I learned so much from author, agent and editor blogs it's not funny. Harlequin's forums and writing resources were another phenomenal source of writing education and friendships. I also joined RWA at this time. I'm so grateful for every single person or source that shared their knowledge and experience with me. I also became a craft book junkie :)

Fast forward through contest and critique feedback that led me to rewrite (as in overhaul) this first manuscript.

In 2009, I attended my very first RWA Nationals meeting. There, I met another first timer, Kaily Hart. We clicked and she's been my friend, shoulder, advisor and rock ever since. I think we were both a little nervous about attending our first meeting, but wow, the warmth and camaraderie was amazing. What an experience and I'm grateful to authors who reach out and make newbies feel welcome.

With all that I'd learned, I went home and rewrote my story yet again. I entered it in contests and subbed to agents. One agent requested a full that bumped me up to RWA PRO status (even if it earned an R). More resources. Then I entered it in the online (2010) Harlequin Superromance Pitch contest...and it won a chat room pitch opportunity with Editor Victoria Curran. I'd never been in a chat room. Pitching in one? Mortifying. I know I sounded like a complete, bumbling idiot, but she requested a partial. I sent it in.

That summer, I attended Nationals again and it was a totally different experience. I had writer friends from the Harlequin forums and meeting them in person was a blast. I also had the chance to meet Victoria Curran in person. I was so nervous. I mean, I was little me and she was THE Victoria Curran. She had my partial and I was convinced, if she'd read it already, she'd look at me and cringe. Of course, that's not what happened :). She was so great and nice and funny....and wise, constructive and encouraging when she sent me a personal R on the submission.

Victoria, if you're out there, I'm laughing at myself (with red cheeks). That manuscript was so not ready for editor eyes!

So what did I do? I re-wrote it again. Yep. I'm a bit OCD, project oriented and persistent (that sounds better than stubborn, right?). That book (what I consider my 3 for 1, since it was the same book rewritten 3 times) finally got stashed away (forever, RIP). My attitude at this time was let all the positive feedback keep you going and all the negative feedback guide you to the right craft books. Experience is never a waste of time. That manuscript was an invaluable learning experience. I also learned that:

1) I could finish writing an entire book (I'm too OCD to start one and not finish)
2) I could tackle edits and rewrites (knowing this boosted my confidence later on)

I was also blessed to gain another dear friend and extraordinary mentor and Fairy Godmother, Jeannie Watt.

After completing my second manuscript, I won a Brenda Novak Auction critique with Victoria Curran. She'd seen my work before and, although I knew she'd been promoted and would no longer be with Superromance, the line I was targeting, I really wanted that last opportunity to 'learn' from her feedback. I valued her opinion...which was spot on, of course. I still needed to work on conflict.

I rewrote that manuscript and subbed it.

On to manuscript 3. The One :)

When RWA Nationals in Anaheim (last year) rolled around, I still hadn't completed a new manuscript. I'd spent too much time on rewrites and reading craft books. I almost backed out of going because I felt so unprepared (no elevator pitch or anything), but my friend Kaily assured me that once I got on that plane, I'd relax and get excited about the meeting (thank you, Kaily, for not letting me back out). I'm a mother of three boys, so I was feeling fried and Nationals in my annual 'me' time. Even without a pitch, I could use time in my hotel room to start my next book. Well Kaily was right. I'm so glad I went.

While having dinner with Jeannie (and her writer daughter Jaime) the first night, I mentioned a story idea I'd had that sprung out of some of my unique life experiences. Later on, she asked if I was attending the Harlequin Heartwarming Open House. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard of Heartwarming. It was still 'newish', having gone through a digital test mode, but they were planning to launch new authors and stories the following summer (as in this month!). I had no idea about this at the time. Several more times over the next few days, I heard, 'So are you going?' (nudge, nudge) from Jeannie. I finally got curious and asked her what it was all about. She said we'd just be popping in to say hi to Victoria and congratulate her and Marsha Zinberg on the upcoming new author launch of the line...and then we'd leave. In and out. I believe I may have even asked her, just to be sure, that I wouldn't have to pitch or anything...and that anyone could go. Party crasher I am not :)...way to shy for that. LOL. Guess it's called an 'open' house for a reason ;).

We went...and right after Victoria and Marsha introduced the line, Victoria pointed out stacks of large 'idea' (aka pitch) cards and invited everyone to write a story idea down, pop it in the bag and they'd pick 5 ideas to ask for subs on. Panic set in. I can't wing stuff like that. I have to plan and prepare. Jeannie started walking out and I followed.

She stopped me and told me not to leave until I pitched at least one idea. In fact, she told me she thought I should pitch the one I'd told her about over dinner. I freaked. I told her I couldn't phrase a coherent pitch on the spot. She said of course you can. I said the room is too noisy...I can't concentrate. She said to sit in the hall then, but to do it. Mind you, Jeannie teaches that pre-teen/teen age group. She knows all the 'homework' excuses, I'm sure. And I didn't dare say no to her. LOL. Jeannie is awesome and sooo nice, but she's also intuitive and knew I needed that final nudge. Thanks, Jeannie!!!!

I did end up in the hall. I eventually migrated back into the room when the crowd had thinned to a few people. There I sat at a corner table, feeling like the last kid in a classroom during a school exam LOL (everyone was great and nice and the atmosphere was wonderful...these were my own insecure thoughts). I think I tore up at least 20 of those idea cards just to get three down. And the one that I ended up getting a full request on a month later? The idea I'd told Jeannie about.

So I wrote the story and sent it in. A few days later, Victoria called me with a revision request that pretty much entailed rewriting the entire ending and any related threads. I did the revisions and sent them in May 13th, and on May 31st (notice the number flip?...and it's 2013...heh, 13 is a lucky number;) I got the call.

Book 1 is due to be released January 2014, with books 2 and 3 (it's a series) in 2015.

I'm beside myself and so incredibly humbled to be working with yet another group of incredible authors and with Victoria. Victoria, thank you so much for this opportunity. I apologize profusely for any headaches, head-banging or hair-pulling that reading any of my earlier submissions might have caused :).

Thanks to everyone who has propelled my journey, knowingly or not. Thanks to everyone who has ever judged or critiqued my work and given me advice, support and friendship, or shared their experiences, whether through their blogs or on forums or through letting me pick their brains during interviews. Thanks to my family for believing I could do it and for understanding. Thank you all.

And sorry for such a loooong post!

Blame it on the rush!

Monday, May 7, 2012

My latest craft book must have!

Cliches have met their match!

The Virgin Widow's Heart Stopped When She Saw the Book That Would Change Her Life Forever by Ellen Hartman and Sophie Gunn just released on Amazon (Kindle) last week, and I promise it really will change your life. Well, okay, your writing life, although it could inspire people everywhere to discover their individuality and revamp their social skills :). I mean, who likes a cliched pick-up line. Right? Seriously though, I rank this book up there with Debra Dixon's famous Goal, Motivation, and Conflict as a staple for all writers.

The book is based on Ellen and Sophie's popular workshop, which I attended at last year's RWA Nationals meeting. The room was packed with not only published and unpublished writers, but editors as well. You know the workshop where everyone laughs, takes notes like crazy, then they push and shove to get to the speakers and ask more questions at the end? Alright. Romance writers are more civilized than that, but yes, it's that great and this is your chance to find out their anti-cliche secrets, as well as their fail-proof way on how to find your voice. Whew, that was a long sentence! It's because my heart's racing with excitement! (Okay, that was bad ;)

This isn't just about killing cliched phrases. It's about fixing cliched characters, plots, situations, and even promo. I hate it when people point out problems but don't provide solutions. This book tells you how to un-cliche a cliche. It's full of examples and step by step approaches to making your writing unique. It's a fast-paced, funny read loaded with a phenomenal amount of information. Definitely a craft reference must have.

Buy it or find out more on Amazon.

Note: I'm aware that the word cliche has an accent, but I couldn't figure out how to make it happen. Let's just pretend that I'm wildly clever, and I left it off to symbolize ripping apart cliches :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Home Revisions

That's right. Home revisions...not renovations. LOL, none of my brain cells blew away with the last cold front. I simply figure when a writer tackles spring cleaning or any other major house overhaul, it might as well be called home revisions. First of all, activities such as closet/drawer organizing, dusting, or even vacuuming provide tons of time for pondering manuscript ideas and...well, revisions. I mean, what else is a writer to think about while dusting floorboards? ;) Secondly, spring cleaning (at least the way I approach it) mimics many of the suggested methods for approaching manuscript revisions (note that I'm generalizing here...not outlining specific manuscript revision steps).

Tackle major flow/plot changes first: If I'm planning to switch kid bedrooms, rearrange furniture or move potted plants, I do it before any detailed cleaning and organizing.

Look at each scene and make sure it works: Now think of each room in your home as a separate scene. At this point, I focus on one room at a time and make sure everything in it is where it should be. Just as with eliminating anything that isn't needed in a story scene, I like to organize drawers and closets, removing any outgrown or broken items. I try to stand back and make sure the room as a whole looks and feels right from the inside out.

Line edits and other details: Ah, this is where the OCD side of me comes out ;). Those floor boards I mentioned above? You got it. Those things get dusty as hell...and no, I don't want to think about where the majority of dust comes from. Too gross. This is also when I dust each leaf on my potted plants, spot clean walls and doors with paint or my beloved Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and clean enough nooks and crannies to drive my husband and kids insane. Oh, but the satisfaction I feel when it's all done is sublime. Nothing like sitting back and relaxing after a thorough spring cleaning (okay, maybe I'm strange, but I know there are others out there who understand what I'm talking about).

Unfortunately, unlike a manuscript that finally makes it to print/e-format, home revisions never end. Especially when there are kids around. I'm dusting and cleaning constantly, but something about seasonal changes inspires me to set the clean freak in me free and go at the house with a vengeance LOL. Knowing my 'space' is clean and clutter free also sets my creative side free. It helps me recharge and focus on my writing.

What about you? Do you love spring cleaning? What do you clean that you think most people don't bother with? Any favorite home revision tips?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Word association

Our subconcious mind is a mighty thing. It can both empower and weaken any individual. In my opinion, it's at least partially responsible for luring even the strongest, most experienced writers into the dark world of 'clichedom' (let your mind add the accent). It can also make the difference between an individual gravitating towards a certain book title...or not. Think about it (or not). Our subconcious mind rules word association.

The idea behind getting the first draft of a manuscript out of your head and into print is to write without self-editing. Let the words flow. Get the story out...and revise it later. Well, when you write the first thing that comes to mind, it often includes a cliche. We've heard certain expressions, analogies, and actions so often that they're the first thing our mind goes for when we're trying to grasp for 'the right words'. Hence, the need to tackle the 'twist' during revisions.

What about book titles? Are there any words that turn you away because they have a negative association for you? I don't know the process publishers go through to choose book titles, but what do you want to bet that they've run stats on which key words sell? Which key words a reader associates with the feeling/experience they want to get out of a book? Subconcious marketing...a mighty thing ;).

So how about some fun with all this? You know the game. I say (list) a word and you have to respond with the very first word that pops in your head (keep in mind that I don't have content warnings on this site ;). I'm interested in seeing if the ten words I've listed result in similar responses for those of you who are writers, and perhaps different responses for those who are (non-writer) readers. Note: I've included some prefixes. Here it goes...

Dark
French
The
Pro-
Para-
Complete
Self
Free
Fire
Hand

After listing your first responses, give yourself a minute to think. Did any of your word association answers change?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope everyone has a beautiful day. I'm off to prepare food for guests, so I'll keep it short and sweet. I think that I may have mentioned this once before, but just in case...

If you're a serious writer, you really, really should get a subscription to Writer's Digest Magazine. Just my humble opinion, but they have great articles on writing, as well as one called 'Ask The Agent'. The edition that just arrived in the mail (July/August 2011) is titled 'Your Ultimate Revision Guide' and it has wonderful articles on different aspects of revision (character depth, voice, tone etc...).  One article is by James Scott Bell, author of Plot and Structure (excellent craft book btw). It would be selfish of me not to point this edition of Writer's Digest out to all of you. Check it out.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great day and an awesome week as we skid into June!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Revision Reads

Can you believe it's the last day of February? Time flies when you're writing!

I'm up for a hectic week so I'm leaving you with a short but valuable post. I recently came across a couple of  must-read links for anyone polishing a manuscript or dealing with revisions. Actually, they're great reads at any stage of writing.

Check out Kristen Lamb's blog post on novel diagnostics: The Doctor Is In The House.
Also visit Harlequin author Wendy Marcus's post on revisions at Romance University.

And for anyone interested in strengthening their plotting and character development skills, pick up a copy of Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. I just finished reading it a few days ago and it's fantastic. In fact, I'm adding it to my list of favorite craft books. Not only does he write with a sense of humor, his style is also very straightforward and he makes concepts click. You close the book feeling ready to apply what he has explained. I rank it up there with Debra Dixon's GMC as a writing staple.

Happy writing!