Friday, September 08, 2006

Back & Friday 20

If you didn't hear the thunk last night that registered 9.9 on the Richter scale when I finally dusted two books and the rest of the backlog, I'm caught up, and (for the moment, anyway) back to my regular schedule. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed to check on me. I really was just writing.

The break from blogging and the internet was probably good for me, but I missed you guys. On one occasion I cheated to get into a great discussion over at Jordan's place (and of course Alison Kent caught me.)

One thing that's kept coming up in reader e-mail is the current glom on Authors Behaving Badly. So that I am not confused with those who are presently using it, and because I think it's a tired topic anyway, I am officially retiring the ABB files. I don't know if I did coin the term or not -- probably not -- but as I've said before I certainly don't own the words and I don't care if anyone else uses them. Enjoy.

What's been happening in your corner of the writing world? Any questions for me?

46 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:36 AM

    I was having PBW withdrawal. :) Welcome back.

    I'm having an ongoing problem with titles for my books. A terrible title can turn off an editor before they read one word of the story. The titles you use are very different and imaginative. Would you share some insight on how you create them?

    Lynda H.

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  2. It's good to have you back, PBW!

    This is not really a question, more a comment on something that would be helpful for me. You have links to some of your short stories on your sidebar. It would be fantastic if you could provide a very brief teaser description that would give us an idea of what it's about.

    Feel free to take the suggestion, or leave it. Just a thought.

    Thanks!

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  3. What's been happening in your corner of the writing world? Any questions for me?

    *GRIN* Since you ask, I sent off a manuscript to a publisher and am writing my next one while biting my nails and praying.

    Did you ever cope with writing and a day job? If so, how did you handle work, home, getting in enough exercise AND writing?

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  4. ~beams~
    Had a short fiction piece accepted. Second time I ever sent one out.

    No questions, just grateful ( eternally) when you have time to post.

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  5. Avaron Dale9:14 AM

    Found, by chance, Lover Awakened, at Walmart. Um... I'm sorry to say, I didn't like it... I got lost a lot. Oh well, happens sometimes.

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  6. Bridget Medora9:28 AM

    Hi PBW! Welcome back! It's so good to see you. You were really missed. =)

    I have a very specific question for you that I don't know if you'll even be able to answer. I know you have a medical background (at least a bit, anyway, right?), and I'm wondering -- do they keep 18 gauge needles under lock and key in hospitals, or are those unguarded? (This is for a WIP, if you didn't already guess. =P) And do you know if the staff keeps inventory on them and would notice if a dozen or so were missing?

    Feel free to volunteer any related info you may have that I didn't specifically ask about.

    Thanks in advance, even if you have no answer for me. I'm sure this is about the last type of question you expected to get today...thanks for reading it at all! =)

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  7. And she's back!

    Do you ever write by hand? As in, fiction?

    I'm writing by hand at the moment--laptop's at the shop (on my little brother's computer)--and it's working! I've tried it a few times, but it's never worked before. Maybe it's the purple pen? Which leads me to my last question: Do you like purple pens?

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  8. Lynda wrote: I'm having an ongoing problem with titles for my books.

    Titles, the immortal bane of the novelist. Know the problem well, lol.

    A terrible title can turn off an editor before they read one word of the story.

    Titles are very nebulous things until the book hits print -- a fair percentage of my original titles get changed by the publisher, btw -- and as a result I think editors aren't too judgemental. That doesn't mean you can title your book Kill All the Damn Editors, Slowly and not expect some negative reaction. ;)

    Would you share some insight on how you create them?

    I did some posts about titles here, here and here that have great comments from other writers, too, if you want to check them out.

    Most writers have some tried and true methods they use to create titles (I often raid old poetry for words, ideas and phrases, for example) but I think playing with key words from your novel, using online title generators and having fun with it is best.

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  9. Anonymous10:34 AM

    SO glad to see you back, PBW. You have been missed.

    Noel asked "Did you ever cope with writing and a day job? If so, how did you handle work, home, getting in enough exercise AND writing?"

    And that's my question, too, but focused on the first part. A lot of writers have (and need) day jobs. I'm a senior in college and I just had my orientation, and I'm left feeling hopeless and discouraged. Why isn't "staying home and writing my next novel" a viable option post-grad? I know I need to pay-back loans and stuff, and I will happily go to work if I find a job. I said I would like to work in publishing, editorial-style grunt work. But when I added I want to write, she looked like I vomited on her shoes. And of course, first question, have you had anything published? One article. *FROWN*... the reply? Well you know, TS Eliot was a banker and that didn't squash his creativity. Maybe you don't really want to work in fiction... the implication being I somehow find it intricately connected to becoming published. So now I'm confused, and discouraged, and have no idea what to do. I can't even find publishers around Philly that I could apply to, anyway. Can you respond somehow?

    Jess

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  10. I mentioned this in email because I didn't want to spam your blog comments, but since you asked ... I just signed with a pretty decent agent.

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  11. Glad to have you back!

    So my question - I've just completed my 10th edit of my manuscript. I know I have at least one more to go (proofing the typset). So I wanted to know - after your novel is accepted, how much editing do you do at your publisher/editor's request? Do you find yourself shifting words etc, or do you get some major edit requests (like a flat character needs to be dropped, merged, or brought to life).

    Just curious how other people's editing experiences compare to what I'm just finishing on my first novel.

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  12. I finished my NiP, the romance! And guess what, the H&H live HEA.

    Crap. Gave away the ending.

    Welcome back ;)

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  13. Anonymous1:26 PM

    Glad to see you back! And sounds like you have been productive to boot!

    In my little corner of the writing world, I finished my WIP, Jewel of the Desert and started on a new novel to give myself a little more time before editing. I'm very happy with finishing this latest WIP. It's the second novel I've ever finished and sort of cements in my mind that I can do this more than once.

    Anyway, the question I have for you regards selling series. The novel I just finished drafting is part of a trilogy (or dualogy depending on if I can squeeze this next part of the story into one book or not). When querying agents, should I say that it is part of a planned series or just submit it as a stand-alone? It sort of stands alone, but it ends with a couple of big threads left undone.

    I really want this book to go to a major print publisher, but will it being a part of a series make it impossible to sell? The current project IS a complete stand-alone. Should I finish it and submit and THEN offer the first book of the series if they ask what else I have? I realize I might be jumping the gun a bit, but I like to plan ahead and I'm sort of confused as to what to do.

    Crista

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  14. What's happening in my corner of the writing world?

    You remember that trilogy that wasn't a trilogy? Well, the bugger is now only two books and a lot easier to manage. To have the same events seen from the angle of the Visigoths (one book) and the Burgundians (another book) just didn't work out. Since the Visigoth one has always been more promising, it will stay and the Burgundias will be reduced to minor characters. The third book in the 'trilogy' with a British angle will stay as well but get somewhat disconnected from the Visigoth one.

    Then I got a plotbunny for your ebook challenge, a nice novelette, I thought. Until I asked my MC, the Saxon Ricmar, why he hated the other man so much that he killed him and got outlawed, only stumble into the middle of the most juicy family feud, a man slain, blood debts, a wife sent back to her father, guilt, betrayal, shifting loyalties, and pagan versus Christian religion. But the real fun begins when during a Saxon rebellion in 783, Ricmar ends up between all sides, the Saxons who think him a niding, Charlemagne who could give him shelter but executed his father, and the machinations of a monk whom Ricmar saved from the Danes and whose past connects him with the secret behind the family feud.

    So, this is defintely becoming a novel, and there's no way I could finish that for the challenge.

    But there may be another one - if it doesn't grow on me as well. Alternate Roman Empire Steampunk. A weird plotbunny with a funny hairdo ... and a toothy grin.

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  15. Caryle wrote: You have links to some of your short stories on your sidebar. It would be fantastic if you could provide a very brief teaser description that would give us an idea of what it's about.

    Excellent idea. Let me fiddle with the links and see how best I can do that. Thanks. :)

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  16. Noel wrote: I sent off a manuscript to a publisher and am writing my next one while biting my nails and praying.

    Way to go, Noel!

    Did you ever cope with writing and a day job? If so, how did you handle work, home, getting in enough exercise AND writing?

    I didn't get published until ten years after I "retired" to be a full-time stay at home mom (which was like holding down three full time jobs, actually) so I've been very fortunate that I could work at home while being a pro.

    When I did have a day job, however, I still managed to work in writing time. I got up an hour early before work to write. I carried a voice recorder in the car and dictated scenes and notes on the commute to and from work. I always brought a notebook with me to write in during my lunch hour at any job. One of my bosses actually let me come in an hour early and stay an hour late so I could use my work computer to type up my manuscripts (he was a sweetheart for whom I gladly slaved.)

    At home, I gave up watching television and talking on the phone and used that time for writing. Instead of going on vacations, I would spend my time off at home writing. Once I saved up enough money so that when I quit one job I was able to stay home to write full-time for one month before I got another.

    You can't spend every minute writing, though, and I didn't try. Weekend days I gave myself off from work and writing so I could spend the entire day with family and doing housework (and you need that time off.) I used to swim every morning for twenty minutes, but as I got older I needed to do more, so I joined a gym and went to work out for an hour three days a week.

    This all requires a lot of energy, so you should look at how you're eating, too. I've been an on-again off-again vegan but I always feel better when I stay away from meat and animal products. Before you go on any diet or exercise regime, make sure you check with your doctor to get the green light.

    Not all of these things will work for you, either, but try making small changes in your schedule and see how they benefit your writing. Even if by making one change you're able to manage an extra hour of writing every week, that's an hour you didn't have.

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  17. It is good to have you back. I've had no excuse for goofing off all week.
    I'm just about to start the agent hunt and I'm wondering what to say if I'm asked why I'm looking for an agent now. I have four books published and a contract for a fifth. I want an agent because I want to move into larger markets and (I hope) make more money. Should I just say that or use some cutsey statement like, "I'm ready to grow as a writer."
    Thanks,

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  18. I've missed you, but it's because I was moving. I didn't even know you were away.

    Glad you are back. :)

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  19. Bernita wrote: Had a short fiction piece accepted. Second time I ever sent one out.

    Outstanding! Now you get to smack all the people who are sitting on their subs. :) Congratulations.

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  20. Avaron wrote: Found, by chance, Lover Awakened, at Walmart. Um... I'm sorry to say, I didn't like it...

    Hey, you gave her a fair shot, and that's all any author can hope for. I haven't read the book yet so I can't comment on it (it's at the top of my As Soon As I'm Done the Next Vamp Book TBR pile.)

    Have you read any paranormals or dark fantasy recently that you did like?

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  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  22. Thanks for the comments over at my site. I'm currently waiting to hear back on two fulls and a partial. The latter was sent to the place you suggested. (wg) Thanks!

    Also, I started reading Lilith Saintcrow's new Dante Valentine release, Dead Man Rising. So far, I'm really digging it. Dark, gritty and fun. :)

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  23. Bridget, after I posted my answers to your questions I got a couple of nasty e-mails (evidently the Thought Police were offended by my candor.) Anyway, if you didn't get a chance to read them, would you be so kind as to send an e-mail to LynnViehl@aol.com? I'll reply with the answers to your questions privately and that'll avoid another vulture fest.

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  24. Milady wrote: Do you ever write by hand? As in, fiction?

    I used to write a lot of short stories by hand when I was younger. I still write letters, poetry and private journal entries by hand when possible.

    I've tried it a few times, but it's never worked before. Maybe it's the purple pen?

    Could be. I love to hand write things when my fingers are up to the task. The keyboard and the computer are marvelously efficient, but there is nothing like seeing the words dance across the paper. Fountain pens are my favorite writing instruments.

    Which leads me to my last question: Do you like purple pens?

    Love the color. :) I keep bottles of violet, blue, black, green, and burgundy ink for filling my fountain pens. Violet is great for writing sonnets.

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  25. Jess wrote: A lot of writers have (and need) day jobs. I'm a senior in college and I just had my orientation, and I'm left feeling hopeless and discouraged. Why isn't "staying home and writing my next novel" a viable option post-grad?

    I guess the only answer is that pro writers are really not paid to write. We're paid for the rights to publish what we've already written. Sadly, none of us actually make a living from writing, just from selling the rights to it when it's done.

    I know I need to pay-back loans and stuff, and I will happily go to work if I find a job. I said I would like to work in publishing, editorial-style grunt work. But when I added I want to write, she looked like I vomited on her shoes.

    Kind of an ignorant reaction on her part. Publishing is a global industry and there are any number of jobs in it that can help you pay the bills and teach you about the business on your way to becoming a professional novelist. Why not look into entry-level positions not just as an editorial assistant, but also as a copy editor or copy writer?

    So now I'm confused, and discouraged, and have no idea what to do. I can't even find publishers around Philly that I could apply to, anyway. Can you respond somehow?

    First, here's a list of 147 book publishers in or around Philadelphia, and I pulled that off the internet -- I'm sure there are more out there within your region. If you don't like any of the publishers, you might also consider applying to magazines, digests or any periodical company in the area.

    I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction, though, Jess. Is there any way you can talk to another orientation counselor? Maybe the one you had isn't familiar with the publishing industry.

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  26. Simon wrote: ...I just signed with a pretty decent agent.

    Wow! Now I get to be the first to say "I knew Simon Haynes before he went platinum..." :) Congratulations, pal.

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  27. Sandra wrote: So I wanted to know - after your novel is accepted, how much editing do you do at your publisher/editor's request? Do you find yourself shifting words etc, or do you get some major edit requests (like a flat character needs to be dropped, merged, or brought to life).

    It's rare that I don't get asked to do some sort of revisions on a manuscript, and I will go along with almost anything that's suggested. I've been fortunate to work with some excellent editors and I put my trust in them. Also, nothing I write is so sacred that it can't be changed and made better or more marketable. The only time I challenge an editor is when I think that for whatever reason the requested changes don't work at all -- but that's very rare.

    There's really no way to tell how well a novel will work for an editor. I've had books go straight into production with no requested changes. I've rewritten half a novel to accomodate an editor's requests as well. So far, it's kept me employed and my books selling well, so we must be doing something right. :)

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  28. Doug wrote: I finished my NiP, the romance! And guess what, the H&H live HEA.

    Oh, like that'll never sell. Well done, Doc. Now submit it -- we need more guys in romance. ;)

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  29. I had a chance to read the reply before it was deleted. I can only say some people need to get a life.

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  30. PBW wrote ... Wow! Now I get to be the first to say "I knew Simon Haynes before he went platinum..."

    Hey, I'd be happy just to go bronze or copper ;-)

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  31. What in the world is the 'this post has been removed by a blog administrator'? I've never seen that before.

    Does blogger censor? It must have been really bad for them to kill it because I've seen some really bad stuff posted on other sites.

    Or was that 'administrator' as in you, Ms PBW? (I'm sure it was deserved if it was. I would actually be relieved to know it wasn't some blog-big-brother.)

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  32. Crista wrote: Anyway, the question I have for you regards selling series. The novel I just finished drafting is part of a trilogy (or dualogy depending on if I can squeeze this next part of the story into one book or not). When querying agents, should I say that it is part of a planned series or just submit it as a stand-alone? It sort of stands alone, but it ends with a couple of big threads left undone.

    I'd write the query for the finished book alone first, then when you've snagged an interested agent, I'd elaborate on plans for future books. Mainly because dazzling multiple book queries are very difficult to write, and if the agent likes one book, they'll want to see more.

    I really want this book to go to a major print publisher, but will it being a part of a series make it impossible to sell?

    I sell plenty of series novels these days, and publishers always want more. I can also think of a dozen newly published writers who have sold series to major publishers as their first sales (some of them hang out here, too) so I wouldn't worry about it.

    The current project IS a complete stand-alone. Should I finish it and submit and THEN offer the first book of the series if they ask what else I have? I realize I might be jumping the gun a bit, but I like to plan ahead and I'm sort of confused as to what to do.

    I'd query the finished book first because you have a complete manuscript for that one. Unless the concept blows them away, most agents like to see finished novels from unpubbed writers. If you find you're not grabbing any attention with it, then I'd try a query for your standalone WIP.

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  33. Gabriele wrote: Then I got a plotbunny for your ebook challenge, a nice novelette, I thought. Until I asked my MC, the Saxon Ricmar, why he hated the other man so much that he killed him and got outlawed

    Uh-oh.

    only stumble into the middle of the most juicy family feud, a man slain, blood debts, a wife sent back to her father, guilt, betrayal, shifting loyalties, and pagan versus Christian religion.

    This is why we call 'em plotbunnies. They multiply on you. :)

    But the real fun begins when during a Saxon rebellion in 783, Ricmar ends up between all sides, the Saxons who think him a niding, Charlemagne who could give him shelter but executed his father, and the machinations of a monk whom Ricmar saved from the Danes and whose past connects him with the secret behind the family feud.

    You write one hell of a synopsis, Gabriele. I love it. Doesn't sound like a six week project, though. ;) Good luck with it.

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  34. Darlene wrote: I'm just about to start the agent hunt and I'm wondering what to say if I'm asked why I'm looking for an agent now. I have four books published and a contract for a fifth. I want an agent because I want to move into larger markets and (I hope) make more money. Should I just say that or use some cutsey statement like, "I'm ready to grow as a writer."

    No cutesy statements. Please. You're a pro writer, not a Chia Pet.

    Seriously, I don't think you need to make any statement to justify looking for an agent. You're an experienced pro, you've got a nice backlist and a contract in hand -- that says it all.

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  35. There she is! Chain her so she never leaves us again :)

    "What's been happening in your corner of the writing world? Any questions for me?"

    Blogging full-time and returning to the writing world. Have you checked out either Holly's or Lazette's non-fiction writing e-books? Any opinions?

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  36. Heather wrote: I've missed you, but it's because I was moving. I didn't even know you were away.

    See? Heather went and moved again and didn't tell us. Lol.

    I do not envy you the unpacking, lady, but congrats on your new place.

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  37. Jordan, who among other things made me sneak back onto the internet last week, wrote: I'm currently waiting to hear back on two fulls and a partial. The latter was sent to the place you suggested. (wg) Thanks!

    That's terrific. I'll keep my fingers crossed for all three, but especially the latter. ;)

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  38. Misswrite wrote: What in the world is the 'this post has been removed by a blog administrator'? I've never seen that before.

    That's what happens when I delete any post. And I wrote that post in reply to Bridget's question, and my answers pissed off some non-writers who seem to think I gave out "criminal" information. I didn't, but to save time and bitching, I just deleted it.

    Does blogger censor? It must have been really bad for them to kill it because I've seen some really bad stuff posted on other sites.

    Nope, it really was me. I've tried to offend Blogger a few times, but they must think my stuff is wimpy, 'cause I've never been censored by them.

    Or was that 'administrator' as in you, Ms PBW? (I'm sure it was deserved if it was. I would actually be relieved to know it wasn't some blog-big-brother.)

    I don't censored the comments here at all, although I will delete obvious SPAM. One of the great delights of this blog for me is how civilized the comments have remained over the years, even when we disagree or have a controversial topic. A few trolls have come over and tried to start something now and then, but no one pays any attention to them and they flounce back out.

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  39. I'm new here and just wanted to say hello. I am always looking for bloggers who blog their writing life.

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  40. Joel wrote: Have you checked out either Holly's or Lazette's non-fiction writing e-books? Any opinions?

    I have read Holly's Mugging the Muse and Create a Character Clinic e-books, and I loved them. MtM was in large part the reason I survived my second and third pro year without losing my marbles; it's one of the best all-around writer books I've ever read. Create a Character Clinic is a must-have for any writer struggling with building, fleshing out and/or refining their characters, or the writer who simply wants to do more with the characters in their head. It's as much or as little character insight as you need, and the exercises and charts are great.

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  41. S William wrote: I'm new here and just wanted to say hello. I am always looking for bloggers who blog their writing life.

    Welcome, S, and you've come to the right place. The writing life is all we talk about around here.

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  42. Whew, so very glad to know it was you who'd removed that post. I spent the entire night dreaming of some eerie blog master swooping down from blogdom with whips and chains ready to crack us all into submission with the wrong word.

    LOL, okay, no I didn't, I am relieved though.

    For the record, I never meant to imply that 'you' were censoring posts, only that if you had felt the need to erase something someone else wrote that it would surely have been a good reason. Like the lovely little spam I received this morning. Gotta love their determination though.

    And is it me, or did the freakin' word verifications get harder? Now they're in ITALICS, as if they weren't hard enough for these poor eyes of mine to read. LOL Long live the wicked blog master.

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  43. You write one hell of a synopsis, Gabriele. I love it. Doesn't sound like a six week project, though. ;) Good luck with it.

    Wow, thank you. I always thought I'd never be able to write a decent synopsis because my plots are so complicated.

    Maybe I should write them while the project is still in the planning stage and I don't know what further twists are going to creep up. *grin*

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  44. Flouncing trolls, offending insider medical information, sales announcements, an eye-popping synopsis or two, smart writing and publishing information all for the price of a mouse-click or two. That's what's so great about Friday's at PBW's. Great work, Gang.

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  45. Anonymous8:37 PM

    I've had books go straight into production with no requested changes. I've rewritten half a novel to accomodate an editor's requests as well.

    You don't know how relieved I am to hear that. It's actually comforting to know that the edit process can vary so dramatically for a well-established author.

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  46. I know I'm late to the party, but it means I get to finish up all the leftover drinks and catch up on all the gossip.

    There's been too much going on since April, so let me give you just the bullet points:

    * April-May: Failed to get agent for mystery novel. Reason: mystery novel not good enough. Better than the last book, but not quite there.

    * Summer: Kids are home. Daily writing put on hold for family trips, child-care time, household chores. (For those of you who wonder what those with jobs and family do, the answer is we don't. At least if you're not under contract.)

    * Spent summer with power tools, shovels and rakes. Built front sidewalk, drainage ditch, five bookcases (yah!), DVD cabinet, sanded and repainted back door, repurposed discarded table for laundry room and patched roof.

    * Spent last three school days on long-delayed day trips to Lancaster County with wife. Saw garden statuary, garden statuary, furniture, artworks, Amish. Also trolled bookstores new and used and picked up treasures (yah!).

    Now, with the kids back in school, I'm getting ready to start researching and plotting the next book on Monday.

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