Meteorites and A More Diverse Protagonist

I’ve really been looking at my manuscript from a different perspective the last few weeks. I got to a point in my editing where I was satisfied. It wasn’t that I thought I was finished, but I was too close to see what needed to be changed.

I stepped away for several months and am itching to get started again. My story is not boring (at least I hope) but my character Jet needs some more spice. I also need to condense some of my scenes. They are great scenes, but some of the wording, dialogue, visual description needs some work.

To help me get to this point, I turned to some great fiction/fantasy writing and dove in to see what others did to be successful. It’s hard to take what someone else has done and make it your own. But, what I have seen is that I can tighten up my ship.

Meteorites have a small part to play in my story and I realized, I need to make them a bigger, more decisive topic from page 1.  I’m excited to make some changes.

In the meantime, I will be finishing my second project, a medical mystery. I am currently editing this as well. This has also been crucial. I didn’t stop writing, but went on to the next project. There is nothing that beats more writing.

Have you had major changes in your manuscript? What brought you to those changes?

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UVU Book Academy – Even better the second time.

Yesterday, I had a fantastic time at the UVU book academy in Orem Utah.  This is the second year that I’ve been able to attend. And just like last year, it was awesome. Simply the best thing about the conference is the fantastic staff that teach, instruct, participate, and excite the writers who attend.  This year it was Dan Wells who was the keynote speaker.  His books are right up my alley – because his themes match my day job at the prison. He did a great job in talking about finding writing ideas from our daily lives.

Classes were even better. Mainly because in almost all cases, it was a hands on experience. We talked or thought about things that could actively pertain to our writing. Whether it was plot formats, query letters, or editing.  I was especially fond of a class on mystery.  It really broke down some of the things that are needed to sustain a mystery. Since this is my latest writing adventure, I really found this class to be helpful.

My most needed class is the Query letter. Its funny, I took the same class last year and got five times more out of it this year.  I hadn’t yet finished my first draft last year. At the time, it was my first introduction to the query letter.  Since then, I’ve written four, all for my first fantasy ms.  This time, I could move along with them and inspect my query letter. It really helped me to look at it differently.

Writing conferences are always a chance to mix words with other writing talents and especially learn about some exciting changes and success of writing friends and twitter friends.  It was a great time – now I need to put into place what I learn.  Well….back to writing the query letter!!!

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WIP – The Devil’s Gate

My frist manuscript ever finished is my first love. But so far, I’ve only received rejections. And I am really okay with this. If it was easy, then I think I would have missed the point. I have started re-working my query letter and have decided to send it out to a few people who really know how to edit and clean up stories. They seem excited to work on this project, almost as if they are hoping to help me make this happen. I love when two sides can work for the same goal.

I’ve also been working hard on one of my wolf characters which makes an important appearance at the end but his real distinction won’t be seen until later. I love the idea of wolf beast and the destruction he will create.

I continued working on the second installment of my intended series – The Earth’s Divide.  The second book is so-far called Shattered

My numbers as I see them:  17 query letters sent out [the same query letter] and 9 rejections.  Each rejection has been a little general. I am really considering sending back a quick questionnaire to see if it was the query letter, the genre, or the word count.  As I talk to more and more writers, authors, editors and publishers – 140,000+ words for my first book is way too much.  I am considering another serious edit on word count.

At the present, I am working on a medical mystery and awaiting feedback from my pair of editors. I’ve reworked the query letter and have another batch of agents that I would like to query.  I will continue working on Shattered and my medical mystery until it is time to bounce on The Devil’s Gate again.  Writing is a ton of fun – even when things don’t work out exactly how I would have hoped.

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Second Chances – hopefully better than the first

We all have big changes in our lives that are more or less a second chance.
Harrison Ford

Second chances are really an interesting and sometimes wasteful opportunity. Half of me thinks that I waste my second chances because I usually have the same mind frame as I did when I missed the first chance. But often, we find ourselves missing and learning and that is the key. I hope that for the many times I have missed at something, I will be given a second chance.

Here is another second chance:  I recently found a blog article about a Summer Writing Contest. I love contests because they give us writers the opportunity to get some feedback and criticism of our writing. Often we, I mean me, think blindly that all is well, but we are still missing the big picture.  These contests give us a chance to see the big picture.

My second chance is going to be with literary agent Lauren Ruth. I am especially excited to get a second chance because she said no to my first ever query letter.  Lauren Ruth from BookEnds will be judging the contest and she seems awesome. I’ve read through my first query letter and felt that I didn’t do as well as I wanted, so I can’t be surprised that I got rejected. I’ve been rejected a few times now and I am excited to try again with a new query letter. [After the contest]

So, if you are looking for a first chance to get involved in this contest today and tomorrow are the last days. Certainly take a look at ‘s blog for directions on how to enter the contest and good luck.

Take a moment to read about the contest here:  http://blackbirdinmywindow.blogspot.com/2011/08/summer-writing-contest.html

 

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Trying something new – writing two stores at the same time

This blog post was originally written on my author page at Clarlucky

I read a myth that you should stay writing in the same genre during your career. This is probably to stop anyone from writing on a topic that they don’t understand or aren’t familiar with. I understand it to some degree. But, since I haven’t found a genre that I am proficient at, I guess that the myth doesn’t yet apply to me. I finished writing my first manuscript a year ago or so. I spent several months on edits and rewrites. I am currently querying that manuscript.

Once I started the process of querying, I began writing again. And it has been fantastic. The problem is that I have two stories vying for a spot in my head. The first one is the second book of my first manuscript.  It’s genre is fantasy – like the first.  Can I say that I love fantasy.  The other story in my head is more of an amateur sleuth medical story. I also have a huge passion in medical and I currently work in the medical field. Mysteries are always fun to read….so why not try to write one.

The real difficulty is that some days, I feel like writing fantasy and other days, I can’t wait to write about my medical mystery. And so rather than fighting the urge, I am embracing it.  The funny thing is that I am not bored with either story.  I am just excited about writing two stories at once.  I plan to continue this practice as long as possible. I do look forward to an agent calling and forcing me back on tract, but until then….write on!

Please comment if you’ve ever tried this.  Tell me if it worked for you or was too hard to keep the stories and POV separate.

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Adios Prologue

After much deliberation and the help of my most recent conference – I am putting to rest my prologue.  As a reader, I love prologues – if done well.  They really can grab my attention and throw me into the story.  The problem as a writer – it has to be perfect.  Mine was far from perfect.

My real problem was that I have two stories wrapped around each other. I was trying to start my manuscript with my secondary story and my prologue introduce that second story.  Therefore, the prologue didn’t have anything to do with the story itself.   The prologue often give a back story that helps the story move.  I’ve heard many editors say that if a prologue is done – they will skip it immediately – read the story and then read the prologue.  If the prologue teaches them something that they had missed in the story – then they would consider keeping it.

My change wasn’t hard at all.  If you can imagine – my manuscript has 51 chapters. 41 chapters are devoted to my main story and 10 chapters are devoted to the secondary story.  Truth be told though – the secondary story is really just a single long chapter. My former prologue was the first chapter of 10 I just mentioned. My change consisted of taking the prologue and moving it to chapter 5 of my story.  From there – every 5-7 chapters I would add another piece of the puzzle. It was a fun way of doing it. In the end, I kept the chapter – because it is helpful in the overall story.

What are your feelings, as a reader, about prologues.  If you are a writer…does your idea of a prologue change?

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Its Query or Die

The Query letter is one of the more crazy things in publishing.  I mean – right up there with your pitch. It’s so crazy that most writers hate it…or so I’ve been told. The problem is – as crazy as it seems ….it’s vitally important to do and to do it well.  But when we get rejected – it can be painful. We need to find a solution to avoid getting rejected.

I believe there is an art to Query letters – and a formula. Stick to the formula and you are playing it safe.  Add some splashing colors and you could drown out your canvas or make it glorious.  Break all the rules and you will usually implode – unless you shine above the others.

The funny thing is that the query letter is written so differently than the actual story. But almost no one will even read your story if you don’t knock the query letter out of the stadium.

I just finished my 9th round of editing.  It is time to move on.  The next logical step is the query letter. I think that I’ve written it 10 different ways and I can’t get a handle on which one is better or worse. I’ve read a ton of other query letters and some of the ones that succeeded – I didn’t like and some that failed – I loved.  It’s all a matter of opinion and what gets  you on a certain day.

It’s important to be honest and make your query letter yours. Research as much as possible and read as many as possible but in the end – write what you need but do it well.

What really seemed to hit me is that the final ingredient in a query letter – must be a dash of  luck!

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An Awesome Contest

Let the fun begin – Thanks to Shelley Watters for this contest:  Read and destroy – if you so choose.

Title: The Devil’s Gate

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Word Count: 140,000

Chapter 1

Jet opened his eyes, gulped, and was convinced that this was the end of everything he knew. He was overwhelmed despite the calmness of the early morning. The warmth of the fire escaping the room next door did nothing to stop the chill as it passed through him. Something was in the air; a change on the horizon. He’d hoped to enjoy this holiday season despite all the inner turmoil, but, any reprieve from his dark thoughts were now washed away as sands from the beach just a few miles away.

Suddenly the air exploded just outside his window. Jet sprang out of his bed and bounded over and looked outside. At first he saw nothing; then he glimpsed a reddish-brown bird twitching on the ground. He wondered if it somehow lost control and smashed into the glass.

He peered around his backyard and was amazed to find a thick fog suffocating the air. It was deep blue and unnerving, signifying the terror he felt inside. A cracking sound, as if a bone snapped in half filled his ears. He looked around for the source of the sound, it wasn’t hard to find. Twenty feet behind a small pond was the edge of the forest and six broad trees had been shattered, like toothpicks in a tornado.

Thanks for taking the time to read and critique!
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The First Page Battle

Who knew that the real estate on the first page was so important. I learned this, dramatically, at the Pikes Peak Writing Conference.  I was hammered during one of the critique sessions and I am glad I was.

Imagine standing in front of 30 or so other writers and having an editor give your first page the once over as you read it aloud.  I had worked hard on the first page before and thought that I had a good point of view (POV), no spelling mistakes, an identifiable character and I introduced a pending doom.

My mistakes ended up being large and plentiful.  I don’t think the writing itself was horrible, but maybe it was. My real problem was where to begin the story. A previous conference suggested crescendo during the first chapter and ending with a bang.  I think that this still can be done, but my issue was that I didn’t have a good hook for the reader. 

I started with a scene eluding to a disaster – not bad – but then I went into a description of my protagonist – very bad – . It didn’t end up going well.

Therefore – this begs the question: Would you ever put down a book after reading just the first page, first paragraph, and maybe even the first sentence?

If so, then you would agree that the real estate on that first page is so important.

As I am constantly editing my manuscript – I’ve noticed a tendency to come back to that first page or first chapter – in order to ensure that everything is exactly how I want it.  It’s the make it or break it foot in the door.  What pressure!

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My First Pitch At A Conference

Disaster is the only word I could use. I was terribly nervous and under-prepared. I had spent two hours in two class preparing my pitch. They were great classes and I really worked hard on my first 3 sentences or my log line. I thought that they sounded great. What a beginners mistake, not everything and rarely anything sounds good the first time around. I listened and worked and polished my log lines and became satisfied. I  became aware that I was going to pitch later that afternoon.  Lunch was great, as I had convinced myself that I was ready. 

After lunch, I decided to perfect my perfection and went to a class that allowed for quick pitches.  I stood in line and finally pitched to an experienced pitch listeners, not sure what that means.  The first said, that I needed to keep everything the same.  The second said I needed to change everything and the third said not to listen to the previous two. I walked out of this experience, ten minutes before I was to pitch, with no clue on what I was going to do.

Things went from bad to worse. I waited for my turn and when it was finally  my turn, I pitched my pitch. I introduced myself and said the title was: The Devil’s Gate – after an embarrassingly long 30 second of an 8 minute pitch – I finished reading my log line.  My listener, an agent, looked up expectantly. I rambled for the next two minutes.  After finishing, my listener, asked for my pitch paperwork and began looking it over.  She was obviously confused and so was I. First, she was confused on my pitch – I had some glaring missing points and second more importantly, she doesn’t represent Fantasy.

With my tail between my legs, I walked away bruised and informed.  My listener did a great job in explaining what I was missing and what agents expected. Failure is sometimes a quick way to force us to be successful.  If I hadn’t failed so miserably, I wouldn’t have spent that evening working so  hard on my pitch for the next day. Round two began early the next morning. I changed some words and really tried to set a hook for the pitch. It also helped that I was pitching to someone who  was interested in Fantasy.  When I walked out of my second pitch appointment – I had a request for 3 chapters.  Later in the day, I had a request for the entire manuscript.  All in all, the Pikes Peak Writers Conference turned out to be a success., who would have guessed.

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