In which I detail my adventures in writing and publishing

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Pause That Refreshes

No, not a soft drink. I'm talking about what you do when you finish the first draft of a manuscript. I've just completed an 80,000 word suspense/thriller I named Win or Go Home. I started writing it 13 months ago, finished a first draft during the early part of the winter but scrapped the second half when I began to revise it. So technically I am on draft one and a half. I've been bringing chapters to my critique group and getting some great feedback so far.

My plan now is to let the manuscript lie for a few weeks, maybe a whole month. It is, after all, almost November which is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I highly recommend it to nouveau novelists, if only for the discipline of trying to write something every day for a month. The goal of participants is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, which works out to about 1600 words a day. I think I'll get started on the sequel to Win or Go Home during NaNoWriMo. After all, if I get lucky with an agent and luckier with a publisher, they're going to ask if I have another book in the series. To which I'll answer: but of course!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Revision Blues

Sisyphus was a king who believed he was more clever than the Greek god Zeus. As punishment for his arrogance, Sisyphus was made to roll a boulder up a steep hill. Every time he approached the summit he would lose his grip and the stone would roll back to the bottom.

Revising my work is for me the modern version of the myth. I work hard to make the sentences crisp, eliminate excess words and advance the plot. Later I read the revision. I see more ways to improve, clarify and entertain.

I don't think the job will end until the work is published or banished to a drawer. Such is the writer's curse.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Search for an Agent

I'm re-writing the second half of my book, submitting finished chapters to my critique group for feedback and doing some reading as well. Oh yeah, did I mention I'm working full time?

My goal is to finish the re-write, go over the manuscript two or three times to correct writing issues, fill plot holes and correct continuity gaffes. I might even hire an editor. More on that topic another day. D-Day will be when I travel to La Quinta, California for my annual spring break retreat with my wife. I can't ever write on vacation.

Then I'll begin the query process. I'm compiling a list of candidates using an online resource: Agent Query. Check it out. There are also books available with similar databases of agents. I've heard of different querying strategies. One is to send out a bunch--say ten--and every time you get a rejection (there are always going to be lots of those) send out another one so you have ten in circulation at the same time.

A few years ago when I wrote my first novel a lot of agents insisted on receiving queries via snail mail. That is still true for some agencies, but more and more accept or even insist on electronic submissions. You don't have to be a Green fanatic to appreciate it. Making copies and sending them in the mail is not cheap.