Friday, August 26, 2011

Blog Party

Two years ago at this time, we were in the middle of the most incredible blog party. It started out to be a one day deal to celebrate my 100th post. The joke was that I'd been a member of blogger for a couple of years before I created a blog and really had no interest in blogging (a lot like I feel about Facebook and Twitter now).

If you were part of the blog party, take a trip down memory lane with the link at the end of this post.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check it out. It was worldwide and unbelievable.

I have two copies of the limited edition of the total blog party in bound form. If you want one, order through the link in the left sidebar. Click on the book cover in this post to see a larger image.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Read any good books lately?

It's five AM and the mowers are rolling across the golf course (I hate that noise!). I'm sorting through emails before work.

Work? Yes, by day I'm a social worker who works with people who have developmental disabilities. Pretty cool job.

Anyway, the point I'm aiming for is that amidst the email from the lawyer and the advertisement with coupon for business supplies, is the daily feed of publishing news.

There is an article or two about price fixing and how eBooks are too expensive (really? it isn't my fault you bought an expensive eReader).

Forgotten is the time and expertise that goes into creating a book out of an ms. Not to mention that there are several prevailing digital formats to address. Am I the only one who remembers BETA and VHS?

The discussion should be a bit less about price (and price fixing) and a bit more about content. What is a well crafted story worth?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Desert Storms and Rewrites

I sat on the patio this afternoon, well used to the heat, and read mss. This is a photo of the monsoons rolling across the desert.

I've given a lot of thought to how specific I should be about rewrite requests to the CRP authors. The other day I asked my friend Jen Garsee what kind of direction she gets for her rewrites.

I know she disappears when she is doing rewrites and it isn't until they are done, by the deadline, that anyone hears from her. Jen writes for one of the major publishers and has her third YA novel coming out soon. (Links below.)

Here is what she said, which makes me think I do far too much handholding:
The rewrites depend on the book. I had a TON of rewrites with Before.After...almost none with Say The Word...and a lot of editing in the third-- not really rewrites, just needed to cut and tighten. Luckily my agent gives me a lot of advice before it even goes out to my editor [at Bloonsbury USA Children's Books].

ps The rewrite suggestions are never detailed. They just say "I need a scene with blah blah" or "Can you make this character a bit more likeable?" or "We need a transition here..." I have to figure it out myself lol.

Jeannine Garsee
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

Check out Jen...she writes hysterical blogs.

For more Arizona weather info: We've had several haboobs - it is a strong wind in the desert; a sand storm.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


As if there isn't plenty to learn about writing, then dread strikes when the thought of editing tramps across the bliss of completing the first draft of 'the manuscript.'

There are several different types of editing, named, of course, closely to their actual function.

This is what usually occurs:
Spell check. Done. Off to the best friend or significant other to show off the manuscript, your pride and joy.

The friend likes it, but...

Finally they hesitantly and apologetically mention there are some errors.

Now the serious self-editing begins. The diligent writer reads through the ms on the monitor. He anguishes over the stupid errors he didn't notice before. Then off to another 'sure to rave' friend.

The best use of the writer's time is to print the ms and read it aloud - red pen in hand.

There are some things harder to catch than peek, peak, pique [homonym] goofs and over used words. Because the writer has intimate knowledge of the story and characters, it is easy to miss odd jumps in time, unneeded secondary characters, assumptions the reader knows things that aren't in the story or overly annoying explanations of things anyone would know, a sloppy misuse of literary devices, and a dozen more things that make the ms destined to forever hit the rejection list of the publisher's slush pile.

The solution is simple. It's not your favorite English teacher from school or your super smart friend who knows nothing about writing. The solution is to hire a content editor.

Finally after all the rewrites, and there will be many of them, comes the time for the line editor or proof reader; the final clean up crew.

After spending untold hours writing the ms, don't skip the final polish before sending it and the query letter on its way into the vast world of publishing.

The harsh reality is, regardless of how awesome the story idea is, if it will take too much time to find that gem and polish it into a marketable commodity, most publishers will pass.

There are thousands of mss shopped for publication a year. Yours needs to be competitively written to get the first three chapters read. No one expects perfection from a manuscript, but it really should look like some effort was put into presenting a worthy product.

I thought this was interesting. "Rewriting work under such circumstances more often than not works out to an editing rate of 2 to 3 pages an hour." It really does go at a snail's pace when I "read" a manuscript for content editing.

Enough blog reading, get back to writing the next Great American Novel.