Dialogue, Editing, Fiction, Humor, Novel, Writing

I’ll tell you; you tell me

I have a serious writing post coming up next time, so stay tuned, but today it’s a free for all. Well, unless some of you would like to send me money. (Email me for my Paypal account info.) Anyway before I so rudely interrupted myself, I was saying … pretty much nothing. Never mind.

Tip o’ the Day: I don’t want you to live to the ripe old age of none-of-your-business, like I did, before you learn a genuine cure for hiccups, so I’m going to help you out. I read this somewhere (could have been on your blog) awhile back, but since I’m not often afflicted with synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, I had to wait until my husband obliged to test it. He did so last week, and it worked. Then yesterday, I had the pleasure of proving it myself—twice.

Now, I guess you’d like me to tell you the secret. I’m sure some—heck, probably all of you know this already, since I seem always to be the last to get the memo. Anyway, here it is. Take five tiny sips of water as fast as you can and Abracadabra! Truly, it feels like magic. Minus the sparkles.

Oh gosh. I’m sorry. I just discovered there’s a law stating I can’t write a post without some reference to writing. Soooo …as you may know, (because I blog about it incessantly) I’ve been doing a final final edit of my novel. I’ve finished that on paper, and now I’m about ankle deep in transferring all my scribbles to my Word file. This edit proved to have an effect on me akin to jumping bare nekkid into the Chukchi Sea in December. I. Am. Wide. Awake. Now. My illusions of grandeur have gone bye-bye. There will be no Pulitzer Prize in my future.

This is what I know about my writing. My strengths are dialogue and characterization. I think. And I don’t really suck at description, I just forget to add it sometimes. On second thought, maybe only dialogue is my thing. Or maybe not dialogue, but …

Your turn: Tell me, tell me, tell me, what do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses in your writing?

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Advice, Craft, Fun Fridays, Humor, Novel, Tips, Writing

How to make a novelist melt down in 5 minutes … or less!

Rant alert, you have been warned. As previously stated on this blog, I no longer read “how to” writing books and blogs because they are generally either contradictory or repetitive. But some of you, my blogging writer friends, are sabotaging me.

I’m almost afraid to read your posts because you might have written about the three-act structure, the novel hook, author intrusion, unbelievable plot elements, or—heaven forbid—the 10 biggest mistakes writers make. You’ve probably written a brilliant post. You’ll probably get dozens of comments thanking you for such helpful advice. You won’t get one from me.

It won’t be because I disagreed with what you wrote. It’s just that your words had a strange effect on me. I read your post with a smug smile because the problems you talked about are not in my novel. Not my perfect novel. No, no, no.

Well … but …

[eyes dart wildly, shaking commences]

What if? And what about that? Is it? Could it be? Do I even have three acts? Is that too much a coincidence? And what exactly is a hook anyway?

[assumes fetal position]

My novel is a mess. I just know it. Now that I think of it, I’m sure I made all 10 mistakes. Where on earth did I get the idea I could be a writer? I was too arrogant to use spreadsheets, or flow charts, or even index cards for Pete’s sake. I can’t blame anyone but myself. I’m just too stupid to live.

[beats head on desk]

So, dear friends, go ahead. Keep writing those evil excellent posts. And if you wonder where I am, you’ll find me sniveling in the corner, sure that somehow—somehow—you’ve read my novel and aimed those posts straight at me.

Please note: This has been a Fun Friday post. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is entirely coincidental. Really.

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Agent, Fiction, Humor, Novel, Query, Writing

How to stress over an agent request

Today, I thought I’d write an educational post by letting you in on my process of sending off a full manuscript. As I said in my previous post, when I received an agent’s recent email, I was too sick to do anything about it. But in all those hours staggering from bed or sofa to the bathroom and back, I had time to think about it.

It had been 99 days (according to QueryTracker) since I’d queried this agent, and I had written her off as a “no response means no” type. I had since stopped sending out queries because I had been hit with a whale of indecision over the opening chapter, so her request took me by surprise. Nevertheless, there was no question I would take the opportunity to submit. Here’s the tale.

On Monday, I open the file to check the formatting and find two notes at the top. One I understand and edit accordingly, the other I don’t understand. It simply says “Leakey, paleoanthropologist” and though I do have one of the characters mention him, I don’t know why I wrote that. I check to make sure I haven’t misspelled his name, but eventually ignore the notation.

Still, I have the problem of a new first chapter I’m working on. My query to this agent had included the first ten pages of my book and the synopsis. After sharing my dilemma with you, I decide to leave the first chapter as she saw it. I will still finish up the editing of that new beginning, if only because I enjoyed writing it.

Okay, cover page attached, standard formatting applied … the file is ready to send. Ah-ha,  I have to attach it to an email, but do I send it as .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf? And do I start a new message, or reply to her reply to my query letter? I decide to reply. I mean, in the three intervening days she might have totally forgotten she requested my manuscript, so seeing her response to me right there in the email will assure her I’m not trying to pull a fast one. Right?

Oh, but what to say? This virus seems to have caused PARA (previous agent reply amnesia.) I don’t want to sound stupid, desperate, or stiff and humorless, but I also don’t want to sound too chummy, or not serious about my career. I want to come off smart, confident, pleasant, and easy to work with. I think I accomplish one or two of those. Or maybe not. Gosh, what if I came across desperate and too chummy? Or too serious … and stupid? *whimper*

Now, I’m faced with another crisis—two actually—the salutation and closing. She addressed me as “Ms. Lewis,” but signed off with her first name. Does that mean I should address her that way? And she used “All the best” which is not a way I usually close, and besides, I don’t want to copy her. Sincerely? Too formal. Have a nice day? Cliche. L8R? Get real. Aaarrgghh!

In the end, I go with first names, but a serious tone in my brief message. Even though I haven’t rushed my response, I hesitate before I hit the send button, sure that I’ve messed up somehow, and she’ll wonder why on earth she ever asked to read another word of my book. It could happen. Seriously.

(And if you wonder why I’m not saying how I closed the message, it’s because I’ve forgotten what I settled on and can’t bring myself to look. I just know I’ll see a stupid typo.)

Yes, indeed, I can manage to stress even when something good happens with my writing! If you think I made any mistakes in my response, please don’t tell me. I’ll just agonize over it.

😀 🙂 😉

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Fun Fridays, Humor, Writing

Oh yeah, 100 things you really need to know about me!

Today, I’m packing to go on a short trip, and because family will be returning home with us to stay a few days, I also had to clean my house. No small feat. I think it’s terribly unfair to have to prepare for both things at the same time. *pout* Anyway. I didn’t have time to write something brilliant, and besides I won’t be here to respond to your equally brilliant comments. So, I’m taking the easy way out. It’s a Fun Friday.

The title of this post is a joke, of course. You know all you need to know about me, but Dayner and Trista took the plunge, so if you click on their names you can read their 100 things. I actually started making a list, but then I read it and thought, who in their right mind would want to know any of this! I am not unique. Well … I rarely eat chocolate. Does that count?

We don’t have to come up with interesting facts about ourselves to be published writers, do we? I’m doomed if that’s a requirement. I could make up stuff. I write fiction; I think I could manage that. I could just picture myself as one of my characters … you know, someone interesting. Hey, since I’m headed out of town, why don’t you do it for me?

You tell me the facts. Then, if I ever need to fill out a questionnaire, I’ll be set. You could be serious and tell me something you’ve learned about me from this blog, but then I’d still be boring old me, wouldn’t I? No, it’s probably better if you use your character description skills and make me sound fabulous, mysterious, funny, outrageous … whatever. I don’t care. Heck, tell me ten things, if you get on a roll.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to check in while I’m gone, but when I get back, I want to learn all about me. This is the quintessential “You tell me.” Don’t let me down.

Ready … set … go!

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Agent, Humor, Marketing, Novel, Query, Rejection, Writing

Come on, let me in!

Sometimes—usually after receiving a rejection letter—I think about writing for the market. The problem is, the novel trend today is not necessarily what will be hot next publishing season. No, make that at least two seasons from the time you polish up your manuscript.

So I want to know: how are all these other writers clued in? I understand the YA (young adult) craze—it started after J. K. Rowling’s success, but how is it so many writers typed out vampire books at the same time? And now it seems they all knew to write Amish novels.

Do agents get together, decide the next trend, and then spread the word to their clients? Or is it the writers themselves who’ve banded together? Do they have a secret handshake, telling blog icon, Facebook status code word, exclusive Twitter hashtag?

Come on, let me in on it. Please. Pretty please. I, too, want to make an agent see dollar signs when s/he reads my query letter.

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