Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday 20

This has been a tough week for publishing. I was tempted to toss out something about the latest big money scandal -- weren't we all? -- but writing, reading and my own business stuff railroaded me. I made some connections, sprinted through the schedule and got rolling on two new projects, so things in my teeny corner of publishing stayed cool, calm, and ultra-Zen. Why muddy the water with the latest dirt?

I do have some provocative titles for you today, though:

Some Writers Deserve to Starve!

Talk to the Hand

Your Marketing Sucks


This trio sounds like something I might cook up for some parody posts, but in reality they are three published titles, specifically a writer's how-to, an book on etiquette and a marketing manual. Apparently contempt has become the new empathy.

Writers get hit with contempt all the time, through rejections, hatchet jobs, being passed over, all our hard work ignored, our efforts belittled, etc. In the fairy tale world of publishing, we're made to feel like the ugly stepsisters. So when one of the Cinderellas turns out to have slippers of clay, and falls on her face while she's waltzing with the prince, of course we're going to snicker, and applaud, and maybe even cheer. Contempt becomes a matter of justice. We're entitled, right? Only it doesn't make us any prettier.

On to questions: what's up with you guys this week?

57 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:11 AM

    Just submitted a full to my agent (long story short, I rewrote the first 3 chapters for a resubmission and she took me on. This was the COMPLETED full version of that rewrite). It is exciting and terrifying at the same time.

    Tomorrow? I'm catching up on my sleep. By Sunday, I'll be getting the next project ready... well at least thinking about it.

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  2. How do you find your market? For example, I know there are lots of anthologies or e-stuff or magazines out there just waiting for my submissions, but how do you hunt them down? Are there places that list them or is it a matter of site jumping and searching for individual mag names?

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  3. Anonymous5:21 AM

    Long-time lurker here! I love this blog - when I feel inadequate as a writer, you cheer me up.

    I just want to say that 'Talk to the Hand' is worth a look. It's a rant about appalling manners - I know it doesn't sound promising, but it is funny. The author also wrote 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves: the zero-tolerance guide to punctuation' which is a rant on grammar and definitely worth a look!

    I'll shut up now, shall I?

    with best wishes - Maggie Brinkley

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  4. This week: my birthday, making lots of pretty shiny things, wishing I'd time to write, and missing it terribly, so will FIND time, and considering moving to the other side of the country in a couple years.

    The usual me.

    I tried reading Lynne Truss's punctuation book but she came off so snotty that I gave up. I'm all for good punctuation and spelling but I'm not neurotic about it.

    Talk to the hand isn't on my reading list, because she's kind of a bore.

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  5. I just wanted to leave a quick note to say that I love your blog! Thanks for waking me up and starting my day right every morning! ;)

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  6. Anonymous7:01 AM

    ohh good for you, sounds like a productive week, PBW.

    For moi, it is the last week of class, yah! *cheers* And better still, I'm ready and willing to work on my rewrite, finally! I had a pretty crummy last month and the sun is finally back out. (It helps when one sets a deadline, then the sun is forced out a bit, haha.)

    I want to finish the rewrite by July 1st (aka, by the time my husband is finished teaching with a week of vacation). I already have my next project planned, just need to do my chapter outline and some characterizing. :)

    I know, I know, not related to my week, but it feels like it.

    Jess

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  7. My daughter's birthday is today so much cake, fun, cake, presents and um, cake (double layer lemon cake *drool*) . . .

    And wasn't it only yesterday (or so it seems) when I was changing diapers? Amazing to me how it can go from diapers to dolls to Ipods so quickly.

    And been spending three weeks with my folks (they are not staying at our house - thank (choose entity)!

    I am feeling drained, pained and much heavier than two weeks ago too. Funny, when I was 18, I could eat a cubic meter or (choose any high calorie food) and not gain one ounce. Now, one cubic inch of food (even lettuce) = one extra inch on my waste.

    And been trying to write every morning too (so far so good). Er, does this count?

    Nice answer = yes, sure it counts.

    Honest answer = Nice try Yutz! Get off the net, turn on the wordprocessor, and do some “real” writing - yes you, and yes now.

    Still here? Go, go away - write.

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  8. Checking my e-mail every five minutes for - you know.

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  9. i'm so out of touch... there's more scandal and i have no idea what it is.


    This week? *G* I beat my personal deadline and finished my WIP a month early. I doubt I'll get it in the mail a today due to a sick dog, but hey, it's still DONE.

    Now on the next one. I think I lost mind, thinking I could keep this schedule.

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  10. Ya know, I hope that Megan McCafferty gets a boatload of derivative sales and maybe a share of Ms V's royalties.

    Somewhere out among the jlorra, we find what all judges seek. Just ice.

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  11. This week, I realized I'm a much more productive writer when I have to do it around my day job. I never thought I'd be looking forward to going back to work! (Although, to be fair, I think if I was at home indefinitely, I'd get better about it. Right now, my brain is lolling over the idea of the first longer-than-a-three-day-weekend vacation I've had in two years.)

    I've also rediscovered that reading blogs and LiveJournal with no particular schedule to do it can suck several hours out of your day without even realizing it.

    And I have question(s) for you, too--

    In your blog, and in Way of the Cheetah, you say that you write in the morning, and edit later on. Where does brainstorming/worldbuilding/outlining new novels fit into that schedule, and how do you know when it's ready to go to the next step--the proposal?

    I can only work on one project at a time with my day job (and feel like I'm making any progress), but when I'm working on the creation of the story and/or world, it's hard to measure "done" and "okay, I've done a good amount for today" and "if I put a solid deadline on when I need to finish planning this novel, I might rush it and have to start over," etc. I don't usually have any major procrastination/avoiding writing issues, but the amorphous schedule of planning/creating sometimes drives me crazy and makes me start writing and hitting a false start because it wasn't ready.

    Do you have any methods for that? When do you fit it into your day--and when do you know you're done? Does it *ding*? Is it arbitrary?

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  12. (Transferring a question from another post:)

    Nikki said...
    Hello there! I'm an avid fan of your many works and your lovely blog here.

    Color me a newb but how much control, if any, does a writer have over their cover art?

    I've lost count of how many books I've read were the lead character is darked haired and yet the cover art has them as a blonde, or there's an elf that's as tall as a barbarian (though its noted he's half that size inside the book, heh) you could make a lengthy list of instances like this, heh.

    Take care!
    --Nikki

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  13. Anonymous10:41 AM

    When you hit rock bottom, how do you find the strength not to doubt yourself and keep on writing? Well, you can also say you've never hit rock bottom... ;o).

    Best,
    Pencilone

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  14. The outline for my new YA is on my editor's desk almost three weeks ahead of schedule so I'm spending that time on my project of the heart.

    My question is about querying agents. Is there anything you think should or shouldn't be in a query letter?

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  15. Anonymous wrote: Just submitted a full to my agent (long story short, I rewrote the first 3 chapters for a resubmission and she took me on. This was the COMPLETED full version of that rewrite). It is exciting and terrifying at the same time.

    You're working the dream, and that's what makes it into reality. Congratulations. :)

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  16. Anonymous11:20 AM

    Me, this week? Well, besides writing....I had dance class last night immediately followed by troupe practice, which tends to result in zombie-like behavior the following day. Tomorrow we're going to see the Dead Sea Scrolls and the IMAX movie Mystery of the Nile, then I'm dancing for a hafla in the evening. Thursday is my son's spring band concert, which means I get to sit in the audience and hopefully catch sight of his shoe or the uppermost tip of his bassoon, since he sits on the back row.

    And all this is, of course, designed to keep me from staring at the phone, wishing it would ring and be my agent with The News.

    :) Misty

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  17. I've just finished packing and posting this month's issue (#22) of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. We're only small press, but we've given quite a few SF/F writers their first appearance in print. Best of all, we accept submissions via email.

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  18. Jaye wrote: How do you find your market?

    You can buy a Writer's Digest Annual Writer's Market book (about the best price is to get it used, or as part of the intro membership offer through their book club.) It's nearly impossible to read through it, but it's the acknowledged Bible of Submission Reference. Caveats: the contact and guidelines information it contains are sometimes inaccurate as publishers can change those things any time.

    Another way that is a little easier, and free: Go into any big book store, and go to the section where your novel would be shelved. Take out a notepad, check the spines of the books by authors you like, and write down the names of the publishers (If you don't recognize the imprint, the publisher name is always listed on the copyright page.) Take your list home and do a search for the publisher's web pages on the internet. Nearly all of them have submission guidelines pages, and you can take it from there.

    You can do searches, but often you have to wade through a lot of vanity sites and pay-for sub ops to get to the good stuff. It's better to gather info from websites and the blogosphere. Some folks maintain sites devoted to providing market info, like Ralan.com does for SF/F; bookmark these places. Many writers, editors and agents are now openly talking about sub ops on their weblogs -- probably the best among them is Anna Genoese of Tor, an editor who posts what she wants to see on her LiveJournal (if only all editors would do that.) Check in regularly in these places.

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  19. Maggie wrote: Long-time lurker here! I love this blog - when I feel inadequate as a writer, you cheer me up.

    Thanks, Maggie. You all do the same for me.

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  20. Nico wrote: ...wishing I'd time to write, and missing it terribly, so will FIND time, and considering moving to the other side of the country in a couple years.

    The pup just chewed through my favorite pair of moccasins; take me with you, Nico. :) Happy birthday.

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  21. Hope wrote: Thanks for waking me up and starting my day right every morning! ;)

    My pleasure, and welcome to the madhouse. :)

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  22. Jess wrote: For moi, it is the last week of class, yah! *cheers*

    I am pelting you with virtual confetti, Jess. And I envy you greatly. We've still got four weeks to go here, and we're definitely slogging it.

    And better still, I'm ready and willing to work on my rewrite, finally! I had a pretty crummy last month and the sun is finally back out. (It helps when one sets a deadline, then the sun is forced out a bit, haha.)

    Isn't that weird? It's like the crutch/weather thing with me. We've had nothing but great weather the whole time I was stuck in the house. The minute I get rid of my crutches and go mobile, thunderheads form and hail begins pelting the earth. The dog doesn't even want to go outside.

    Good luck with the rewrite. :)

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  23. This week I've decided to give my laptop to charity and move to a village in the Amazon where no one has even heard of writing.

    Yep, it's been a bad week.

    But, on a more positive note, at least I'm not working in a dog food factory :)

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  24. For me? *Sigh* Exams. I've been chanting my mantra "Must not fail! Must not fail!" and desperately staring at the same piece of paper, not taking in any of the words on it, for a while now.

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  25. Paul wrote: And been trying to write every morning too (so far so good). Er, does this count?

    Only if you eventually get paid for it. :)

    Seriously, all writing is a good thing. Posting and commenting on blogs is daily practice for those times when we face the vast emptiness of the waiting page. If you're writing, you're working.

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  26. It's been an ehhhh week. I sliced the tip off the fingernail of my left ring finger on Saturday, I think it was. I wasn't able to hit "s" or "w" with the correct finger, and let's forget about "x" being a happening letter for me during that time.

    Finally got back to writing on Monday but my speed and mental stream-of-words suffered. Was finally able to hit my words per day yesterday.

    Which brings up my question: what is the easiest way for you to get back into the writing after an enforced absence such as the above? Do you re-read the last few pages or just jump right in, or what?

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  27. Bernita wrote: Checking my e-mail every five minutes for - you know.

    I can guess. I keep looking for that proposal e-mail from George Clooney, but I think he's playing hard to get.

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  28. Shiloh wrote: I beat my personal deadline and finished my WIP a month early. I doubt I'll get it in the mail a today due to a sick dog, but hey, it's still DONE.

    Way to go, woman -- there is no finer feeling than beating a deadline early. And hope your pup feels better.

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  29. JPatrick wrote: Somewhere out among the jlorra, we find what all judges seek. Just ice.

    Beautiful. Thank you.

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  30. Ann wrote: In your blog, and in Way of the Cheetah, you say that you write in the morning, and edit later on. Where does brainstorming/worldbuilding/outlining new novels fit into that schedule, and how do you know when it's ready to go to the next step--the proposal?

    I do brainstorming and worldbuilding almost 100% in my head, usually when I'm occupied with housework, walking the dog, driving the kids back and forth to school, sitting in waiting rooms, etc. I also carry a pen, notepade, PDA and voice recorder with me wherever I go, and keep notebooks and pens in every room of the house to jot down important notes or work out something with the story.

    Until I can run the entire story through my head comfortably, without blips, concerns, blank spots or hitches, I don't attempt to get into research, make up a notebook, write a formal outline or proposal, etc. That full-story visualization is really important to me and my process; it may not be as important to other writers (especially organiz writers who do better with spontaneity and serendipity as elements of the process.)

    I can only work on one project at a time with my day job (and feel like I'm making any progress), but when I'm working on the creation of the story and/or world, it's hard to measure "done" and "okay, I've done a good amount for today" and "if I put a solid deadline on when I need to finish planning this novel, I might rush it and have to start over," etc.

    It's a tough call. I don't know if this helps, but I get a feeling when I've put together a storyline and can visualize the novel -- like when you try on clothes and they fit perfectly, are the right color and flatter you -- that's always my indicator that it's time to start writing. It is entirely arbitrary and not every novel requires the same amount of mind prep. But if I don't feel that fits-me feeling, I run through everything I've thought up to see what's snagging me (and more often than not, it's because I haven't developed a character or a plot line properly.)

    I don't usually have any major procrastination/avoiding writing issues, but the amorphous schedule of planning/creating sometimes drives me crazy and makes me start writing and hitting a false start because it wasn't ready.

    I do recommend resisting the urge to rush; your story will thank you for it. It might help to try some different techniques for prepping to write a novel and see if one suits you. I know some writers find index cards, novel notebooks, and/or using a plotting board can help work out the story kinks before they begin writing.

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  31. Nikki wrote: Color me a newb but how much control, if any, does a writer have over their cover art?

    None to very little, unless the author is a big name writer who has enough clout (or contract clauses) to make him/herself part of the production process.

    I've lost count of how many books I've read were the lead character is darked haired and yet the cover art has them as a blonde, or there's an elf that's as tall as a barbarian (though its noted he's half that size inside the book, heh) you could make a lengthy list of instances like this, heh.

    Readers do blame authors for their covers. Interesting, too, that it's the author's name, not the publisher's, that is invoked when when the art sucks and someone wants to ridicule it. It's one of the more ridiculous aspects of publishing, as we really have no control over what our publishers put on our books (and are told from day one to shut up and put up with it because it's none of our business.)

    Personally speaking, I will fight ridiculous and/or inaccurate cover art, if I know about it before it hits the shelf. I generally lose the battles, but every now and then I win one.

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  32. Thank you for your response to my longwinded and meandering question(s), PBW. It was helpful and makes a lot of sense. I'm middleground on the planning/organic battlefield. Even when I think I know everything about the story, I usually learn I only knew half the full story when I started writing. Sometimes, I think that's also why I have problems hearing the "ding" that it's ready to start.

    Thanks again!

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  33. You've said repeatedly that you think it's best, rather than doing all the promotion stuff like tours and cons, to spend your time producing as much work as you can. My question is, how did you get your publisher to be okay with this?

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  34. I'm way to the organic side of the spectrum. I usually discover that a story is ready to go when I'm several chapters in... Obviously this makes rewriting really important...

    Zoe: Sales = clout. If your books sell well, the publishers don't care if you live in a cave in Tibet. They'll be happy to let you keep doing what you're doing.

    Given how much trouble most writers seem to have getting any kind of promotion budget, I suspect most publishers aren't sure that promotion actually helps anyway. It can't hurt and it makes the author feel useful.

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  35. Pencilone wrote: When you hit rock bottom, how do you find the strength not to doubt yourself and keep on writing?

    Look for my grafitti on the rock bottom walls. It reads PBW was here. There are a bunch of other writers' names there, too.

    Whenever I am pushed, kicked, or stumble into abyss of depression, which is my most direct route to rock-bottom these days, I remember death. Death is forever, and I won't be able to do anything after it. Then I collect myself, and tell myself to quit whining, and start climbing back out of the pit. I do that by writing. Some days I only manage an inch. Some days I climb a mile. But I never stop writing, and that way, I never stop reaching.

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  36. Ann said something about working on two projects at a time?

    I'm no expert, but I've found that using different fonts for different projects helps me um... Well, I guess switch voices is what I'm trying to say here.

    PBW, do you write a blog each day? Or do you have a backlog of sorts and you just pick one to post?

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  37. Darlene wrote: My question is about querying agents. Is there anything you think should or shouldn't be in a query letter?

    I think every query letter should contain all your contact info and the correct spelling of the agent's name, agency and address. I opened mine with a great tag line, brief info about the book (genre, length, and a premise of 25 words or less); you can add your professional writing credits, and wind up with a thank you for their consideration.

    ALWAYS include a SASE (and for those who think that's an amateur move, you should read Anna Genoese's latest LJ entry.) Basically: be brief, be honest, be dazzling without being blinding.

    What you don't want in a query letter: name dropping (unless an agent's client is specifically referring you); snotty overtones such as "Don't be an idiot and miss your chance at this amazing literary opportunity"; over-familiarity, i.e. opening a letter to Donald Maas with "Hey, Don, How are the wife and kids? Here's a new project I know you'll love"; or any other obnoxious, sure-fire approach to pissing off the recipient.

    Also, please do not use colored or scented or glitter-sprayed stationery. Do not spray the letter with perfume. Don't send something you've wiped cat puke off of before you mailed it. Use only clean white bond paper with clear black printing.

    Do not cite how many years you've been a member of your writer organization. They don't care. Don't print the writer's org's little crest on the letter. They don't care. Don't list how many writing medals you got in high school. They don't care.

    Do not send personal photos of yourself, especially the one when you were drunk at the last con after receiving your PRO pin. They will copy these and pass them around at the next agent's pow-wow.

    When avoiding what to put in an agent letter, weed out all those things that are TMI, amateur, or unbusinesslike.

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  38. Simon wrote: I've just finished packing and posting this month's issue (#22) of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. We're only small press, but we've given quite a few SF/F writers their first appearance in print. Best of all, we accept submissions via email.

    Well, knock me over with a feather -- I didn't know you were involved with that magazine, Simon. A very fun magazine, btw, for those who enjoy humor with their SF.

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  39. Scott wrote: This week I've decided to give my laptop to charity and move to a village in the Amazon where no one has even heard of writing.

    They'll make you wear a loincloth and drink things that old naked women have premasticated.

    But, on a more positive note, at least I'm not working in a dog food factory :)

    Or writing copy for their advertisements.

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  40. Rebecca wrote: For me? *Sigh* Exams. I've been chanting my mantra "Must not fail! Must not fail!" and desperately staring at the same piece of paper, not taking in any of the words on it, for a while now.

    Try a change of scenery. I used to pack up my books and drive to the beach or the park, and study there. Much nicer than sitting in a room.

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  41. Steven wrote: ...what is the easiest way for you to get back into the writing after an enforced absence such as the above? Do you re-read the last few pages or just jump right in, or what?

    Stop playing with sharp objects, Steven. ;)

    If I can clearly remember where I was with the story, I just jump right in. If I can't, I will look at the last page of what I wrote, but only for a minute to get my scene bearings. If you do backtrack to pick up the story, just don't let yourself rewrite unless it's a typo or an obvious fix. Rewrites kill your momentum.

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  42. Milady wrote: PBW, do you write a blog each day? Or do you have a backlog of sorts and you just pick one to post?

    I do a little of both, depending on the schedule and what/when I feel like posting. I do write everything at least 24 hours in advance of posting. All the posts this week, for example, were spontaneous stuff that I wrote the day before I posted them. Monday's ten lists I usually compile over a period of weeks, and I'm generally working on collecting links for four or five simultaneously. I also have a few pieces I write and save as drafts for rainy day posts.

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  43. Zoe wrote: You've said repeatedly that you think it's best, rather than doing all the promotion stuff like tours and cons, to spend your time producing as much work as you can. My question is, how did you get your publisher to be okay with this?

    I never sought my publishers' permission, but then, they've never asked, demanded or expected me to do any sort of self-promotion.

    Self-promotion is not a prerequisite to becoming a professional writer. If you're very good at it, and enjoy doing it, I think you should self-promote (intelligently, and frugally.) I'm not particularly good at it and it makes me cringe, so I stick to what I do best.

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  44. Milady Insanity:

    Thanks for the tip! I've found I can mentally multitask if I'm in different stages of each project (planning, editing, writing the first draft, etc.), however my main concern is actually time. I only have 1-2 hours a day to work on my writing, so I prefer to devote that space to one project at a time.

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  45. I have a writing related question. Today I had some trouble with both my WIPs. The two scenes I wrote just didn't *feel* right. One is from an outline (ok, a hazy organic outline) and the other is semi-outlined but I'm basically winging it. Do you ever have moments like that? And how do you combat them?

    Thanks,
    Erin K.

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  46. (Just stopping off from packing up my shiny plate for a day at St Andrews Castle, so pardon if this was handled up thread)

    Question: Any tips on writing a love story, as opposed to a an adventure with a romantic sub plot?

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  47. Corine gantz7:20 PM

    First time writing here. Thank you PBW for a very generous blog. I've spent the last five years writing my first novel, found an agent who closed her business before showing my Ms. around, sent queries to ten top agents who turned me down, and now I wonder. Maybe writing a first novel was merely about teaching myself how to write? Everytime I go back to it I notice enormous mistakes and wonder if I'm not polishing a turd? I want to shove it in a drawer and write novel #2. Is this sanity or is it self loathing talking? Was finding a first agent a sign that the novel had value or since she no longer IS an agent, a sign that the novel blows?

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  48. What's up with me? Wallowing in the abyss and just realizing it's me that's the problem but not entirely certain what to do to change my attitude. Finally had a quality conversation with hubby while on my way home from work (but before he got distracted with Fiesta playing), which helped ground me some.

    Now, if I just make it through the next four months at work without killing anyone or making a complete ass of myself, I'll be just fine. Somewhere in there, I need to sort out my writing life--which is dragging itself behind me at the moment.

    No question--already been lots of good ones today.

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  49. Misty wrote: And all this is, of course, designed to keep me from staring at the phone, wishing it would ring and be my agent with The News.

    Real life does interfere greatly with those times when we could be sitting next to the phone, staring at it, alternately checking it to make sure there's a dial tone and then hanging up at lightspeed because what if the agent was trying to call while we were fiddling with the darn thing?

    (I've been not waiting for a call all week. It came yesterday, was supposed to be followed-up by yet another call today, but the darn thing never rang. I'll just have to not wait for it next week.)

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  50. Erin wrote: I have a writing related question. Today I had some trouble with both my WIPs. The two scenes I wrote just didn't *feel* right. One is from an outline (ok, a hazy organic outline) and the other is semi-outlined but I'm basically winging it. Do you ever have moments like that? And how do you combat them?

    I don't have the exact same problem because I'm an obsessive pre-planner, but I have had bad writing days when I'm convinced everything I've written according to plan is still complete crap, and should be burnt as I pack my bags and move to a mountain in remote Asia where all I have to do is light some cones, harvest strange root vegetables and keep the monks' scarlet prayer robes from turning their undies pink in the wash.

    Seriously. Even Tibetan monks need an incense-burning, veggie-gathering laundry savvy chick around the temple, right?

    But Tibet being expensive as hell, I rely instead on my daily routine. Taking a break between writing and editing helps me disconnect from those it's-all-crap feelings and get into a more rational, analytical mindset. Then, while I'm editing, if I still think everything I wrote is crap, I give myself permission to let it go, correct the usual stuff and move on.

    I know that when I do the final, massive, thorough edit on the whole manuscript that I'll be in a better place to revise or, if need be, throw out the bad stuff and rewrite from scratch.

    It's always easier for me to rewrite when the entire book is finished anyway, because I've got a complete manuscript and that bestows a certain undeniable confidence. The "I did it" afterglow, so to speak. I don't have that while I'm writing a book, and as a result I'm more susceptible to getting sucked into an endless rewriting loop, so I don't let myself act on the doubt by breaking routine.

    If you'd personally prefer to rewrite, no problem, just set a limit to how many times you go back over something so you don't get stalled. If it's not to your liking by rewrite #3 or #4, consider tagging it as needing a complete rewrite and move on.

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  51. I didn't know you were involved with that magazine, Simon. A very fun magazine, btw, for those who enjoy humor with their SF.

    I'm not just involved, I'm a founding member ;-) I'm glad you've heard of it, sometimes it feels like we're a tiny mag on the far side of the planet from the rest of the reading world. (One reason we're looking to a PDF version - it almost costs more to post a copy to the US than to buy one.)

    We started out looking for humour but we tend to print a mix these days. We still aim for the lighter end of the scale, since there are plenty of mags printing the dark stuff, but you can only pick stories from those people send you.

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  52. Zornhau wrote: Any tips on writing a love story, as opposed to a an adventure with a romantic sub plot?

    That will or will not piss off the Sisters of the Immaculate Love Scene? Lol.

    A love story is just that: the story of a love between two people (or, if you're talking eotica, three people, four people, or paranormal erotica; a person and a vampire, two people and a werewolf, three people and a unicorn, etc.) The other story aspects ride shotgun or take a back seat to the love.

    If you're talking about a love story as in a romance genre novel, that's way more rigid and rule-bound. Like how your mom was when she tells you about the birds and the bees, and how you have to wait until you're married and stuff? Pretty much that kind of rigid.

    Traditional romance writers focus on love as the vehicle for the story (all things in the story are peripheral or secondary to said love, and must not overshadow it, contaminate it, or get its play clothes dirty.) They adhere to many, many rules that govern what can and cannot be written in the romance genre; "There must be a happy ending" is one of the biggies. It's like purist science fiction with the plausible science; same kind of strait jacket.

    And before anyone snickers, traditional romance is the still the bestselling form of fiction out there, folks. :)

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  53. Corine wrote: I've spent the last five years writing my first novel, found an agent who closed her business before showing my Ms. around, sent queries to ten top agents who turned me down, and now I wonder.

    Welcome, Corine. You're among friends here. :)

    Maybe writing a first novel was merely about teaching myself how to write? Everytime I go back to it I notice enormous mistakes and wonder if I'm not polishing a turd? I want to shove it in a drawer and write novel #2. Is this sanity or is it self loathing talking? Was finding a first agent a sign that the novel had value or since she no longer IS an agent, a sign that the novel blows?

    If you've only submitted your novel to eleven agents (I'm taking you literally here) I don't think it's time to abandon the manuscript just yet. If it were mine, I'd stop polishing and rewriting it first off. I'd definitely send a query on it out to twenty or thirty more agents. I'd also submit it to publishers who are willing to look at unagented queries, proposals and partials. Try to glean what you can about your novel from any personal responses you receive. You may also want to show your manuscript to another writer or a critique group and get some feedback.

    I would also start writing the next book while I was sending out submissions on the first one. If this was a learning novel for you, then use what you've learned to write the next. Also, if you can't sell it, don't kick yourself. Sure, there are writers who sell the very first thing they write, but usually it takes a couple of years and books for the rest of us. In my case, it took ten years and over a thousand rejections before I sold.

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  54. Jean wrote: Now, if I just make it through the next four months at work without killing anyone or making a complete ass of myself, I'll be just fine.

    Imagine everyone in nothing but bright red Speedos that are one size too small. And they're handing out Oscars at the Academy Awards.

    Somewhere in there, I need to sort out my writing life--which is dragging itself behind me at the moment.

    Meditation and dedicated writing time: I'm pushing them this week.

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  55. Simon wrote: I'm not just involved, I'm a founding member ;-)

    I probably shouldn't mention that Andromeda rejected my first Mercy story, but it was cute. I still remember the comment from the editor who bounced it: Not exactly politically correct, is it? Cracked me up.

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  56. Imagine everyone in nothing but bright red Speedos that are one size too small. And they're handing out Oscars at the Academy Awards.

    I'll need a barfbag to go with that image. I'm reminded of a German Luftwaffe counterpart on an afternoon boat ride in the Turkish Med a few years ago. Excuse me...

    Meditation and dedicated writing time: I'm pushing them this week.

    Things suitable for pushing even in school zones. Of course, you are correct (but we all knew that on this subject--sometimes it helps to hear it from someone else).

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  57. I read Some Writers Deserve to Starve last week.

    IMHO, Niles is one of those writers. As near as I can tell (her website is under construction), Some Writers is her second book...and her first was self-pubbed.

    According to the bio printed in Some Writers, her primary credential appears to be "former writing conference coordinater." The bio doesn't even mention previous books.

    Plus she gives some really bad advice--like not sending an SASE if you want to know how much an agent likes your writing.

    She does have a blurb from Donald Maass though--what's up with that? No doubt that's why people keep mentioning the book (that and a kick-a** title).

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