Labor of love

Labor of Love

Every writer and artist dreams that they’re going to write the next <a href="http://Breakthrough“>breakthrough masterpiece. Then doubt comes along and the words “What if it’s not good enough?” comes along and dashes the confidence.

But what if it is? This is the question that needs to follow any doubt that rears it’s ugly head. I came to the realization that if I think it’s good someone else is bound to like it. If I think, it’s great however people will be excited to like it. It’s all about aiming high. If you want a six-figure contract, believe you’ll get it. Then do what you need to do to make it happen.

Success comes at a cost, not the Hollywood sell your soul to the devil cost, I’m talking effort, sweat and tears. I’d say blood but only if paper cuts are involved. 😉 It is hard work to be published traditionally. There are rules and procedures and it’s anything but easy. World famous authors know this struggle, sure once they get famous nobody sees what they went through just that they’re there now. JK Rowling herself says persistence pays off. If someone says no, try someone else. She was turned down multiple times before someone eventually saw the value in her writing. Imagine being those publishers that said no… See?  So, when I sent out a bunch of queries I rode the excitement/doubt rollercoaster, I’m still on it.  One minute I’m excited and I know someone will love what they see, then I check my inbox and nothing. Down I go. I remind myself it’s only been a week, BiaAtlas is good and I know it, so back up I go.

This whole experience thus far has taught me so much. How to be patient. How to write, edit and revise. I learned how to hone my research and fact check. I’ve learned how to determine good advice from self-serving jealously driven criticism. I have learned not to compare myself to others directly, not to look at them and say I could never be as great as they are. Why not? Who says so? Me? Did I say I couldn’t? Well shame on me then, because then I‘m the one holding me back.  

There will always be the naysayers the ones that will say or suggest you or your work isn’t good enough. To that I say look at the source.

No matter how hard or difficult this process has been, I’ve never been happier. The thing is I wrote a book, I did and it’s amazing that I did.  I had no idea what I was doing and I learned it doesn’t matter. You can fix the technical stuff later, but when you write from your heart and soul you have a masterpiece. When someone uses the term ‘labor of love’ I now fully understand what that means and both myself and my book deserve all the effort I can give it.

My advice about sticking to it.
People can tear you down, but only you can determine how far.  So dust off that old manuscript, sharpen your pencils and flex your fingers. Be tenacious, be bold and above all else be confident and create or revisit your breakthrough masterpiece then get ready to run with it.

-Sheryl

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Breakthrough
Tenacious

Look at the source

Confidence is a fragile thing. Especially when you take huge chance on yourself and put your work out there to be judged. My husband says something that I’ve caught myself saying/thinking often when receiving a complement or criticism. “Look at the source.”

This is a very good measuring stick to apply value to what is being said.  I often ask for honest opinions on something and I sincerely hope to get them. Good or bad I value it all. Now haters need not apply, they can stick their self loathing teardown tactics where the sun doesn’t shine. When I say bad, I mean legit criticism or constructive criticism.

For example.

“Wow I loved the character development, except for Joe, he fell flat and faded into the background unlike Sasha who steps up to the challenge.”

First I look at the source, who is telling me this? Do I trust them? Is the comment inline with them as a person? Are they being petty or honest?  Then I’ll look at the issue and determine if I did or did not let Joe fizzle out. This is useful either I’m neglecting Joe or my source is out to lunch. Chances are they saw or noticed something I’m too close to see myself.

Someone else’s opinion or advice is not gospel, it’s a suggestion I use to broaden my perspective.

Sometimes if I get a conflicting comment that stands out from the rest I pause, assess and move on respectively. I have been getting some fantastic reviews, and some interesting criticisms on my book. I will be honest I was expecting the professional critic to tear my work apart, when he didn’t I wondered if he was buttering me up. Then I put it in perspective. I compared this source with all the others and except for a couple they all lined up. Clean writing, good flow, functioning dialog, suspenseful and engaging. That was a boost and a half to my confidence. I wrote this book having never written anything more than a short story in high school (many moons ago) and technical reports in college (still a few moons ago). So to hear that all my hard work is good, was wonderful.

My advice about put-downs professional or otherwise.
Aside from critiques this can apply to anyone anytime for anything. When someone criticises you or your work unjustly, look at the source. Are they having a bad day? Are they just a down-to-the-bones jerk? Jealous? A quick way to shut them down is to smile politely and ask them, “What makes you say so exactly?” or “That’s an interesting observation, can you explain why you think so?” Having to justify unjust criticism is hard to do.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Fragile

EEEP! I’m Nerve-cited

Today I have my meeting with the literary consultant. I am both nervous and excited. My son calls it nerv-cited.

I’m excited to be taking this step forward in the process to get my book published. I’m nervous to hear him say it’s not worth it. I know it’s just one opinion, but I put a lot of stock in this particular opinion. I don’t expect him to need to be brutally honest, but I do expect honesty.

What we will discuss:
My synopsis
My query letter
My first 50 pages
Is the manuscript ready for queries?
What to do when I get inquires from agents?
And more I probably don’t know about yet.

Honestly I know deep down my manuscript is worth it. I know it’s good and I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished.  I’ll post about how it goes and what was accomplished etc. Good or bad I’ll share since it’s all part of my journey.

I need to prepare mentally and physically.

-Sheryl

 

The first 50 pages.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

Shut your cake hole

Blabbermouths are common in the real world. To your face or behind your back. So why not put them in the story? I love a good jerk, the one that makes you grip the book a little harder and hope they get their comeuppance or feel bad for what they’ve done. Whether they know they are loudmouth squealer or not, doesn’t matter. That they stir the pot does. A proper bigmouth can change the game and save a floundering storyline.

Here is a little tid-bit of mine from a work in progress:

“Good morning Nell, Wendy.” Hank smiled and sat at the meeting room table.
“Oh good morning Hank.” Wendy gushed. She had no problem flirting with the unnaturally handsome Hank. “How was your weekend?”
As usual, Nell sat quietly since Wendy cut off any chance of casting Hank a greeting. Hank finished his tales of golf, beer and a spontaneous trip to the beach without a glance toward Nell. “How about yours Wendy?”
“Ah same ole, same ole.” She waived her hand. “Now Nell had quite the adventure.” Her sly tone was devastating.
There was zero chance Hank would drop the subject. Nell shot her a what-the-hell look. She knew better than to confide in her friend, but did it anyway.
“Oh really.” He slid his gaze to Nell. “Do tell, what could Nell possibly do that has her redder than your blouse Wendy?”
“She had a hot date.” Wendy ignored Nell’s kick to her leg. “Like really hot.” Wendy fanned herself.
Hank tilted his head staring at Nell. She was quiet, mousy and barely noticeable on a good day. All work and no play. Usually. “With whom?”
“Wendy.” Nell’s clenched teeth made her plea to shut up, louder than she meant. The last thing she wanted was Hank, of all people to laugh at her. “Please don’t.”
“Now I have to know.” Hank chuckled.
“She and Barry from accounting went to Point Garrison beach yesterday. Apparently it has an amazing view.” Wendy waggled her eyebrows.
Nell’s cheeks drained of all colour as he smiled broadly, understanding that he was the view.

My advice about Chatterboxes.
Use them. Make them make your story tantalizing or spice up a dull storyline. Someone spilling the proverbial beans can start a good conflict. I like to use it as an opportunity to let someone behave outside their comfort zone.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts of mine

Oops! What did I just say?

Eyes that carry worlds

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Cake

Over used and oft abused.

Ah, the word shiver. Over used and oft abused. This is on my personal list of filter words. One that is injected into a sentence to replace showing an emotion. I find it in plethora among the words of a romance, horror or mystery. Or just dumped in to lazy writing, like I’m guilty of. 😉

At first I used this word freely, it’s a great way to express an obvious feeling right? Well yes and no. People shiver for different reasons, it’s those reasons that suggest this blanket word can be stretched out or removed altogether.

Example 1.

Billy’s fingers gently brushed the back of her arm sending pleasant shivers across her body. (15)

Not a bad sentence really. A few unnecessary words. If I’m also worried about (word count) I would remove gently and pleasant, they are implied anyway. Three words doesn’t seem like much, but it adds up quickly.

Her skin tingled as Billy’s fingers brushed the back of her arm. (12)

Example 2.

Elouise shivered suddenly for no reason whatsoever. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” She muttered to herself. (18)

Meh, it could use a little trimming and rewording.

Elouise frowned and rubbed her arms. “Someone must have walked across my grave.” (13)

Example 3. (I still write like this.)

Tod had never felt so bone achingly cold in his life. He was shivering so hard his teeth chattered loudly. (20)

Now I know enough to rewrite it to this. FYI the word felt is a super filter word.

Tod wrapped his arms around his aching body, unable to stop his chattering teeth. (14)

Do I never use the word shiver? No, it’s a fun word that evokes a personal response. I do use it sparingly or try to anyway. Sometimes a plain ole shiver is just what the story needs, especially if there is no established reason for it.

My advice about overuse.
Overuse can happen with any word, shiver is just an example. Make a list of ‘important’ words you see too often in your writing and then see how often you actually use them. Then see if you can switch it up or swap it out, but don’t jeopardize the story or the flow if you can’t think of a way to change it.

-Sheryl

 

Other related Posts.

No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Shiver

Obvious

Jeopardize

Bam! Pow! Kaboom!

There is a part of my writing that makes me actually sit up and enter typo land as their unchallenged champion.

Violence and action. I LOVE a good action scene in a book, especially when it’s fun, interesting and Fierce. When I’m preparing to write my own, I sit and envision the scene over and over. Each persons’ actions and reactions and what’s going on around them. It’s a lot to take in let alone get out into written word.

My first action fight scene is a long one, several chapters in fact. It had to be, a lot happens. The entire story is pulled in, the whole point of it all is laid out and the villains for the next book are introduced and humanized.

That isn’t the first violent action scene in the book, but the first one I wrote. After I finished the first draft it was evident something was missing. So I wrote an intriguing and dangerous introduction for a character who is basically the reason the whole story takes place. I honed and revised that chapter so many times until I knew it flowed well and was pleasing to the imagination.

Writing violence is fun, but risky. The temptation to become melodramatic, cheesy or start telling vs showing is strong. I had oodles of tag lines, filter words and typos in the action scenes. Some of the reactions were over the top and they needed to be toned down to more realistic responses. Sure the science fiction allows for a certain amount of embellishment in the action department, but even fantastic it needed to be believable within the parameters I set throughout the story.

My advice about action and violence.
Get it out of your mind and onto paper or the screen. Once there, whip it into shape and draw the reader in by showing not telling the events. Action is exciting and violence is thrilling, it’s a great way to jolt a timid story or give a character reason to progress, regress or become someone altogether different.

-Sheryl

 

Related posts:

Show and tell

Tag! You’re it.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

“How could you?”

Me and my first.
“Are you cheating on me?” That question was a long time coming.
I cast my eyes away. “Yes, yes I am.”
“How long has this been going on?”
I swallowed hard. “Half way through revision I took a break.”
“A break!”
I need to be honest, to come clean. “Yeah, I started another book.”
“How could you? I thought I was your one and only!”
“You are my first, and I love you, but I need to move on. I need more.”
“So it’s over?”
I smiled and tilted my head. “Oh no, it’s far from over. You and I have a big future ahead of us. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I’m not a one book kinda gal.”

Moving on from working on one book to another is strangely emotional experience. I’ve spent so much time with my first book, reading, revising, and editing that it feels as if I’m being unfaithful. Which is funny because it’s a continuation of the story and characters. Even so, as I sit and read through my very, very rough draft of my second book, I feel as if I should be working on the first one.

I shake my head in amusement at all the typo’s, taglines, grammar errors, filter words and so on. I have a lot of work to do and it’s not at all daunting for me. I love editing my own work, because its mine. The satisfaction of seeing it go from simple raw ingredients to a beautifully decorated cake, is unbelievably rewarding. Unless it turns out to be a nut filled fruitcake, then something went horribly wrong.

With first book is finished and in sort of limbo. I have an appointment in a week and a half with a consultant to work on my first 50 pages, synopsis and query letter. Once they are perfected, I will begin the hunt for a Literary Agent. I’m so excited.

My advice (that has nothing to do with this post).
Go ahead and let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Then prove them wrong in a spectacular way.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts related to editing.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Show and tell

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Cheat

Oops! What did I just say?

The other day I was reading a book written by a very well known author. I was enjoying the chapter and my eyes tripped on a words and the story ground to a halt. There was a typo. A word spelled correctly, but not the correct word.  I thought “Huh, even the best make Mistakes .” That is because they are human, just like me. I smiled and kept reading.

My proofreaders and I have found typos in my book. There are probably still a bunch in there. I’ve talked about this before in revision posts, but I thought I’d show an example this time. 

Sasha turned and looked over her shoulder at the reflection in the mirror. The tight red dress made her ass look phenomenal. Billy is going to love it for sure. Their second date. Running her hands over the soft supple fabric, he imagined Billy doing the same.

Fastest sex change in history 😉 also IMO the easiest typo to make.

Billy cleared his throat as the waiter approached.
“Are you ready to order?” The waiter looked at Sasha.
Sasha smiled up at the waiter. “Yes I’ll have the Chicken Primavera.”
“Very good and for you sir?”
Billy nodded at the menu. “I’ll have the Anus steak medium rare, the spring vegetables instead of the potatoes please.”
“Excellent choice sir.”

Oops! I’m not sure what kind of restaurant Billy took Sasha to, but I hope they at least serve local beef.
In revision, I might be horrified and fix that mistake or take the opportunity to work it in.

“Excellent choice sir.” The polite waiter took their menus and shuffled off quickly.
Sasha snickered behind her hand.
“What?” Billy furrowed his brow.
“I know you want a piece of ass Billy, but I figured you could at least wait until after dinner.”
Billy’s puzzled frown lasted only a moment before his face went red and he laughed.

My advice about mistakes.
You will make them. They can be fixed. Before you do, think about it, can it become part of the story? Defiantly have someone else review your work, they might catch a typo you passed by several times because you wrote it in the first place.

-Sheryl

 

Other Posts relating to mistakes.

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

 
Mistake

Show and tell

Emotions are something we deal with constantly everyday. When I first started writing I told the emotions instead of showing them. ‘She was angry.’ This was lazy and hard to read. I read blogs, articles and some of the books out there such as Master lists for writers and the Emotion thesaurus. Why? Because showing emotion is a lot harder than saying it. Also because emotion generally fell within conversation and ended up at taglines. I read blogs, books and articles Learning more every time.

Here is a telling emotional conversation from my rough draft.

“Are you calling me stupid?” Erin said angrily.

Sam was glad the beds were between them and felt brave for some strange reason.

“No, but you’re acting it.” Sam said forcefully. She did not want to do this, but she was committed and had had enough of her nasty attitude.

“Insult me again Sam and you’ll be sorry.”

“I won’t be sorry Erin, because I didn’t insult you.”

“You did!” Erin shouted angrily.

“No, I said your actions were stupid.”

“It’s the same dammed thing.” She growled.

 As discussed in Tag you’re it this is a rough draft loaded with taglines and I’m telling the emotion not showing it. This is hard to read. Here is the correction.

 “Are you calling me stupid?” Erin took a step forward curling her lips back.

Sam glanced down at the two beds between them. “No, but you’re acting it.” She squared her feet and locked eyes.

This was not an ideal situation. Exhaustion and stress were wearing them all down. Tolerance for Erin’s rude comments is wearing thin.

“Insult me again and you’ll be sorry.”

“I won’t be sorry, because I didn’t insult you.” Sam took a deep breath exhaling slowly.

“You did!”

“No Erin. I said your actions were stupid.”

“It’s the same dammed thing.” Erin clenched and shook her fist slightly.

Emotions are hard to show, the key is to take a moment to think about how you feel and what do you do when you are excited? Do you jump up and down clapping your hands melodramatically? Does everyone? Not likely. There are those that do, but usually its things such as grinning, smiling, whooping, punching the air or clenching fists under the chin and hunching your shoulders. Everyone reacts differently and it’s important that your characters do too. Sam stays calm and defensive. Erin is prone to aggression and rage. However when Sam gets upset she reacts by walking away or pursing her lips while Erin would insult or lash out. Someone else might strike out physically without provocation.

My advice about emotions.
Like actions, they need to be shown not told. Watch others, ask others how they react to emotions. If you’re stumped try a resource, there are some great books out there that have better ideas.

While tricky, showing emotion draws the reader in and creates empathy. People read to experience a story so give them one to dive into.

-Sheryl

More about taglines
Tag! You’re it.

My thoughts on Filter words
No “Filter Word” Parking Here

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Tulips in July

The story I wrote takes place in “real time” by that I mean an imagined year of the current year. I was about halfway through when I realized to interact with the world around them I needed to know exactly what day of the year it is. It would be silly to have them looking at tulips in July. It became apparent that I needed to keep track of time as well as the characters.

So I printed out a generic calendar from about ten years from now. It isn’t important that I say it’s April 17th, but it is important to stay on track.

As I went back to the beginning, I wrote down any significant plot events on the calendar. As I moved forward I discovered that by the end of the book, the story was off by two weeks. At the beginning I eluded how long they would be working for. Instead of changing the conversation that outlined the length of the summer job, I wrote the difference in. It gave me the opportunity to add a little more dynamic to the mystery that I hadn’t thought about before. Fifty  days in, someone in charge slips up and gives the protagonist has a very large clue. This is an important event. That clue leads her quickly to solve the grand mystery just in time. I actually planned it to be that day so if I refer back it’s an easy number to remember.

Having a timeline or calendar of events made things much easier. I can refer back to it or even have the characters refer back. At one point, the number of days is actually mentioned. If a reader were to follow along that carefully, they would find it accurate. Even though it is a fantasy, some reality is required.

My advice about time lines.
Use them even if it’s not important it’s a fantastic way to keep track of events or interactions that drive the story. Did Joe make the ominous phone call before or after he got the internship? If I need to check I can refer to a calendar and not have to flip back chapters to find it if I forget.

-Sheryl

Here is a link to a previous post. The first Fifty  pages. Why are they so important?

The first 50 pages.

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