August 2010


I wrote this post for the Editor’s Note in the Sept./Oct. issue of the NARWA newsletter, High Country Highlights.  However, I liked it too much not to share it here on the blog, too.

Since I’m trying to get in edit-mode for the Golden Heart, the subject is dear to me right now. Here goes:

When it comes to progress on my writing, July and August have pretty much been a wash for me.

A vacation from the day job ended up being a break from writing, too. This happened despite the fact that I toted a big binder full of “Blind Date Bride” with me.

It never even left the (very heavy) suitcase. And the few times I found myself with computer time, I spent it catching up on my blog reading (and writing) … and, of course, Twitter.

How did the world ever get along without new tweets to read every few minutes?

At the risk of sounding like a fogey, I’ll say we were all probably a lot less distracted.

But change is good, so we all need to embrace the technology of the future. Right?

Right.

I’ve recently discovered that I don’t like change all that much. Oh, I suppose I should have realized this about myself years ago, when I balked every time the school cafeteria tried to serve me waffles and sausage for lunch … or when the thought of changing the way we do something at work makes me grumble both loudly and repeatedly.

Well, I finally got it: Given a choice, I prefer things to stay the way they are. Even when things aren’t quite perfect, I’d rather not alter them. Better the devil you know …

I suspect my aversion to change is also why I have trouble editing my writing.
Of course I know there’s room for improvement, because there’s always room for improvement.

But where I have no trouble thinking of ways to change someone else’s prose, I often come up empty when I try to improve my own. Sure, I might tweak a word here and there, but I rarely do a complete overhaul.

I like to think it’s because I spend enough time crafting sentences the first time that they already sing.

In reality, I’m probably just being a little lazy and a lot resistant to change.

I’ll say it again, mostly to convince myself: Change is good.

As I delve into preparing for the 2011 Golden Heart contest, I’m going to keep that in mind.

Do you have any fail-safe, foolproof editing tips to share?

In preparing “Beauty and the Ballplayer” to send to the friends who’ve volunteered to read it, I found something handy to share. It’s a free service that converts Word documents into pdf files.

Nice, eh? And so much easier than the way I thought I’d have to do it … laying it out in an InDesign file (all 205 pages of it!) and then converting from there.

For better or worse, it’s in the hands of three volunteers. I can’t wait to see what they think of it.

I know my writer friends are busy — some of them getting ready for the same contest I plan to enter. As such, they’re probably too busy to read anything of mine. (And they could well be my competition!)

With that thought in mind, I posted on Facebook that I was looking for friends to give me feedback on “Beauty and the Ballplayer.”

That was at about 1 a.m., and I had no idea what to expect in the way of responses … So imagine my surprise when I checked my page this morning and had not one, not two but FIVE takers.

How exciting! Now I’m waiting for them to e-mail me so I can send them an e-copy of the story.

This is the tale I got a little feedback on from NARWA members at our July meeting. (That was the day we read through the first three pages of several stores submitted by members. It was anonymous, but we really didn’t have much trouble guessing whose was whose … I think we all confessed to writing our stories in the car on the way home. Ah, carpools!)

Still, I’m eager to see what other people think of it. Hopefully they’ll be able to point out any plot holes big enough to drive a truck through … Although I don’t think there are any of those.

Now that the 2010 Golden Heart winners have been announced (none of them NARWAns, alas), it’s time to start gearing up for the 2011 competition.

That is exactly what I’m planning to do. My request for judges arrived in my e-mail inbox a few days ago, and I think I’ll do it this year … if I can figure out what category to volunteer to judge.

Since I want to enter in TWO categories myself this year, it makes judging a bit more problematic.

You read that correctly: I want to enter “Blind Date Bride” in single title contemporary and “Beauty and the Ballplayer” in series contemporary.

Am I crazy? Perhaps. But I prefer to think of it as exposing my ambition. If I enter two different MS in two separate categories, I have twice the chance of finaling, right? 😉

Of course, this means poor Bethany and Cody will have to take a back seat — perhaps even before they make it to the doggone island — while I start editing my entries.

I plan to devote the month of September to one of them and October to the other. That gives me plenty of time to prepare both entries before the start of NaNoWriMo on Nov. 1.

Hmm … did I mention my ambitions are showing? Maybe I should go find something to cover myself … 😉

After months of writing like gangbusters and ignoring the healthier lifestyle I’m supposed to be living, I feel the pendulum swinging back in the other direction.

My weight loss blog has been getting all the attention (and is already closing in on 400 hits for the month), but I haven’t been doing a whole lot of writing on my novel.

I need to strike a balance between the two, I know. Of course, if I knew how to do that, I’d both be at my goal weight and have a novel or two actually published. (Hey, a girl can dream, right?)

Today, I tried. I whipped up a healthy lunch, then packed some snacks and headed off to the Barnes & Noble Cafe to write before work.

It worked: I actually wrote more than 600 words today. Add that to the 600+ I wrote on Wednesday and my week’s total is upwards of 1,2oo.

It might not be much, but at least it’s something. Even if they’re not quality words, they’re on the page. I can go back and edit later.

Perhaps the problem is I’ve reached “the sagging middle.” Or maybe it’s because I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent. Bethany’s mother called after 13 years of silence, and now instead of getting ready for the trip, she and Cody are dealing with her mother issues. That’s not much fun to write.

There will be no more writing tonight. I need to get busy reading our book club’s next book, “A Soft Place to Land.” Since I recommended it and am hosting Wednesday’s meeting, I can’t very well NOT finish the book.

But I know I need to get back into writing/editing mode soon. The Golden Heart contest deadline will be here before I know it  — and this year, I want to enter in TWO categories.

I’d better get back to work. 😉

I’ve been having lots of family fun on vacation. Driving around the country, exploring Mall of America, playing games with the kids …

But I’ve had next to no time to write. One day when I fired up the computer, the Boyfriend interrupted me about 10 minutes later. I’d just finished re-reading the last scene written to refresh my memory. No new writing got done.

Guess that’s why “they” say you shouldn’t stop to reread what you’ve written. (Who “they” are, I’m not certain. But I have heard that particular piece of advice before.)

Oh well. I’ll be back home and back to the old grind of my day job soon enough, and then I’ll get back into my writing routine. It shouldn’t be too hard, because Bethany and Cody are still chattering away in my head.

When I get back, it’ll also be time to get started on the next NARWA newsletter … and work on my goals for our next meeting. I believe I said, “revise BDB to incorporate judges’ comments” and “send out at least 2 queries on Meg & Matt.”

Busy, busy, busy. And I’ll only get busier when I head home at the end of the week.

Question for you: How do you find people you trust to read your MS?

I’m not necessarily talking about full-on critique partners, but just people who will read it and tell you what they like and don’t — without stealing your idea for themselves.

I know our chapter president sends it to friends and family. Another of our members uses her book club as readers.

I think it’s time to find more people to read “Blind Date Bride” — all of it.

So far, two of my NARWA sisters have read through the first and second draft. I used feedback from the first read-through to do some revisions, then passed it along to reader number two.

Now I’m thinking it’s ready for prime time … And that brings me back to my question: How do I find readers? (Guess that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it … we’re all looking for readers.) 😉

I’ve been toying with the idea of asking for volunteers via Facebook … but is that a good idea? Anyone have any suggestions?