Tidy Up Time

Tidy Up Time

While I edit and revise my new book, I’ve been taking small breaks to write my next one(I’m very excited about this) and to tidy up my Blogsite. I’ve changed the look and layout and I’m happy with the outcome. It’s not perfect, but it’s much better than the elementary one I had before. 

Lately, I found that I was receiving a lot of vague spam comments and emails. I just spent the last two hours cleaning up and managing my subscriptions to blogs. I had to unfollow and follow a few as there were double follow links for some odd reason. 

I’ve been trying to catch up with some of the serial stories, articles and poems being written by some fabulous bloggers, and I know I’m missing a few. (Which is why I tidied up my subscriptions) All of this takes time, and my brain is bogged down so it’s taking longer than I would like.

I’m not sure how I’m going to proceed with my blog posts, at the moment the ‘what I’ve learned’ posts will be once a week. I’ll be checking in with a more personal post(such as this one) to say hi and update on progress, randomly.

I do have exciting news, I’m looking into a professional Editor/copyeditor to review my first 50 pages, my query letter and synopsis for Prophecy Ink. After a 100% rejection for BiaAtlas, I figured I would take a step back and revisit some ideas about editing. This is and will be an investment for Prophecy Ink which is a smaller more action-packed book than BiaAtlas which is more in-depth and character driven. 

I’m curious to see what they will say and do to my work. All of which I will share for those interested. I’m letting BiaAtlas sit(Much to my fan’s chagrins) for a little while before I pick it up and revise it again. I feel that the fault is in the query and synopsis. Hopefully, when I get Prophecy Ink done, I’ll have a more clear Idea where to take BiaAtlas. 

If you’re wondering why not get a professional edit on BiaAtlas, the person investing the cost to edit, likes Prophecy Ink more. I’m not complaining, both books are good. That’s not to say I won’t be thinking about it in the future for BiaAtlas. 

This all stems down to live and learn, the query is the most important part of the road to publishing. They are the toll-gate, the barrier through which you can only pass if you get it right. Perfectly right. In every way. As frustrating as that may be, I get it, with hundreds and thousands of people querying their books it’s tough competition. The agents can say nay a lot easier if there are blaring or simple errors. If it’s not catchy or perfect, they can move on to someone else’s query. Just like job interviews, if you don’t nail it, there are hundreds of others lining up for a shot. The market of queries is not in the writer’s favour. Sounds super negative, it’s not. They demand perfection(despite what some might say), and they get it. The trick is to be that writer giving perfection. 

It’s hard to please and easy to get a no. There is something called a slush pile, the imaginary place where all rejections go. Since submissions are digital, that delete button is super duper easy to press. 

So here I go again, preparing for the query battleground. I have some experience, more knowledge(Thanks to some lovely books and articles) and I’m going to tackle it again. This time I’ll go slower, and I’ll share my advice, mistakes and efforts along the way.

-Sheryl

PS, my thanks to a good blogging friend for helping me learn how to create nicer looking links. My next project will be to make my blogs easier to navigate.

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Vague

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233 Is A Lot

Someone asked me the other day why I’m back to working on a rewrite of my book. “I thought you said it was done. Why aren’t you published yet?”

It was and it wasn’t done, and traditional publishing takes time, commitment and a lot of work.

I’m not perfect and I’ll admit that openly. This whole journey has been a process of learning and discovery. A crazy wild ride of ups and downs and insanity in between. There have been times when I’m certain I’ve lost my marbles for doing this. Then I think, hey, marbles… how can I write them into my story.

I looked back at all my posts and I have at this point and there is 233 of them. 233 is a lot for someone that never thought she’d ever write a blog post. That means over 200 things I’ve learned, researched, discovered and reflected on. All about this journey to become published. That’s a lot.

My Posts From The Start   

When I started writing BiaAtlas I had no idea my life would take this path. I had no idea it would be a life-altering accomplishment. I had no idea it would spark a passion inside me to write and create stories that I never thought possible.

As far as publishing goes, I’m not there yet and I have a long way to go.  All I can do is keep moving forward and never stop trying.

Re-writing my book wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I realized it needed to be done. It was the first novel I wrote, it was bound to have problems and mistakes. After writing so many blogs and working on other exciting projects I was able to look at my first attempt and see what I could do to make it better.

I survived the onslaught of rejections and even the nay-sayers telling me to quit or if I’m rejected that much my work is crap. (Even if they’ve never read it they say it.) Why should I listen to that? The rejections were an indication something needed to be fixed. I’m betting on word count and the first three chapters. So that is what I fixed. Now I’m revising and finding a lot of slack that needs to be fixed.

I’m happy I’ve taken the time to write about my experiences and what I’ve learned. Partially for myself and for others that might be struggling with some of the same obstacles I myself faced and will face.

My advice about writing and creating.
There is more to it than just typing out words. And the more you put into it the more value it will have for yourself and for the world. Keep writing and creating and let no one bring you down.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Commit

A Dash Of Skill And Nine Parts Of Speech

I try not to take things for granted. It still happens from time to time. I know the basics of writing and I know I make mistakes. Everyone does. I also know that not everyone knows what I know and vice versa.

I have A blog coming up that uses terminology that made me pause. Wait maybe I need to go back a few steps and toss in a refresher…  For myself and for anyone that might be interested.

Speech is part of life. Sentences, dialog and everything written contains speech. The necessary words that bring to life what we want to say. To do this we use words. Glorious, wondrous words. Only not all words are created equal. Not all words do the same thing. Some types of words have purpose.

There are nine basic types of words in the English language. (some say eight others will argue ten, and that’s fine. I’m going with the nine I know.) I went to Wikipedia to remind myself of the definitions, give my self a reprieve so I don’t screw them up and hear about it forever and ever.

  1. Verb – They convey an action (bring, read, walk, run, learn), an occurrence (happen, become), or a state of being (be, exist, stand). (Verbs are sometimes classified into two: lexical Verbs such as; work, like, run. Also auxiliary Verbs such as; be, have, must
  2. Noun –  They describe a thing or a person. Such as; living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.
  3. Adjective –  They a describe noun such as; good, big, blue and fascinating.
  4. Determiner – They limit or determine the noun. Such as; some, many, an, some, and numbers. (These are sometimes classified as adjectives thus the eight)
  5. Adverb – They describe a verb, adjective or adverb. Such as; quickly, silently, well, badly, very, really. (Um… a lot of filter words are adverbs)
  6. Pronoun – They replace a noun with words such as; I, you, he, she and some.
  7. Preposition – They link nouns to other words. Such as; To, at, after, on and but.
  8. Conjunction – They join clauses, sentences or words. Like these; and, but, when.
  9. Interjection – I blogged about this one on it’s own!  An exclamation mark at the end of a sentence or the word “well” typically found at the start!

I know this is a lot to take in, and each have so much more than the rudimentary explanations above and the examples I’m about to give.

Example time

Noun verb   noun verb Verb
Amber sings. Amber is singing.
pronoun verb noun
She loves parrots.
noun verb adjective noun
Animals love good people.
noun verb noun adverb
Amber sings songs well.
noun verb adjective noun
Amber sings good songs.
pronoun verb preposition determiner noun adverb
She walked to the door swiftly.
Some fell on the ice badly.
pron. verb adj. noun conjunction pron. verb pron.
She hates big spiders but I adore them.
He loves chapter books but you loathe them

The following didn’t fit in a graph but contain all of the nine components.

interjection/  pron./ conj. /det. /adj. /     noun / verb/  prep./ noun /   adverb
Well,                she      and    my    young   dog     walk    to       town     quickly.

pron./ conj. /det. /  adj. /  noun /            verb/   prep./  noun /   adverb/  interjection
She       and    your   old     boyfriend     kiss    at         school    often      !

At this point in my life I’m comfortable writing a sentence and knowing I have the necessary components. I do think it’s good to refresh and remind ourselves what words are all about. Despite knowing them, I still pause when someone asks, whats a good verb for… or I need a better adjective for…

My advice about the nine parts of speech.
You might not need to know what they are to use them, but don’t presume everyone does. Not everyone is a walking dictionary. I know I’m not, which is why I’m constantly researching and learning.

-Sheryl

Related Posts

Hey! Its’ Interjection

Conversing is easy…not!

Exorcising Exposition

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

My Posts From The Start

 Reprieve

The blurry lines of opinion and advice

When I write I’m inconsistent. I use filter words, incorrect grammar, typos, dialog and action tags, wordiness and contractions. These things and more, are all over the map. It causes flow issues for the reader. That’s okay, well not the flow issue, but the mistakes or “lazy” writing are there. If I spent every second I’m writing worrying about every technical aspect of writing I’d never get anything done. I would stress out, get anxious, panic and most likely stop enjoying writing altogether.

I’m not interested in gumming up my creative process with rules etc. etc. etc., blah, blah, blah.  That’s not to say they aren’t there, and that I don’t employ them while writing, I just don’t care.

I say this because I used to stress out before I wrote the book. I can’t write as real authors, I don’t know what to do to make it perfect. I didn’t, it was true. Then I didn’t care, I don’t need to do it their way. I wrote and wrote and when I was done, I revised and edited, learned and edited again.

One teensy little question sent me on a whirlwind research tour. Contractions. To use them or not? Well the answer to that was not simple at first. Everyone everywhere seemed to have an opinion and it was all divided. This, believe it or not, I found to be a hot topic with serious emotional/opinionated response in writers. No serious writer would ever use them, no modern self-respecting writer would not. And back and forth and back and forth, until I still had no idea.

There comes a time when the line between an opinion and advice becomes blurred. It’s called peer pressure, when someone passes off their opinion as a rule.

So, I asked an expert, an author and ex literary agent. He would know and he did.
“It doesn’t matter as long as you are consistent and it reads well.”
I wasn’t sure. “But what if the literary agent is anti-contractions?”
“Then they will still read the value of your work and if they want to represent you, they will suggest you take them out. You still don’t have to. It’s your book.”

Talk about a load off my back. It’s not as set in stone as I thought. As long as I’m flexible and not super attached it’s all good. Here is what I learned from my epic journey in the wonderful research world of, to contract or not to contract.

  1. Be consistent in your usage.
  2. Consistent doesn’t mean always or every time. It means consistent to your voice and how you write or want a character to speak.
  3. As long as the voice of your writing is good (Almost)nobody will notice
  4. Write how you want not how others tell you to
  5. If you don’t use contractions ever, because you are a die-hard anti, or took a die-hard’s advice, be consistent
  6. If you use them only in dialogue and never out, never use a contraction out of dialogue
  7. If you write how you talk and how most of the world is comfortable and contract within and out of dialog, be consistent to your voice. Whether you use: Do not do that or don’t do that. It will depend on how you want the sentence to sound, be read and or how the character talks.
  8. Don’t sacrifice your style or voice for word count.

There I think that’s it. BTW a lot of books I read use contractions when it works for their style.

My advice about contractions.
When someone gives you a version of their golden rule, don’t jump on board immediately. Take the time to find out the other side of that set in stone opinion.  Follow your instinct. It’s your writing not theirs.

-Sheryl

Related Posts

Spell check doesn’t catch them all.

Tag! You’re it.

Roller-coaster Conversations

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Panic
Blur

Where did it go?

I have found myself stumped more than once while on my writing journey. A stumper of a moment that stands out the most is the loss of a prominent object. Where did it go?

In chapter two, I introduce a characters vice, an object she carries with her always. Let’s say it’s a pocket knife, her security blanket and foreshadow for other conversations. All of a sudden, I realized two chapters later that the knife disappeared and was completely forgotten. Oops.

I need to write it back in, but now the story has progressed without it and I prefer that it’s gone. It was awkward and held her back.  What to do, what to do? Write it out? Change the story? I thought about it and realized it needs to stay, but clearly not for long. Then it struck me, kill the knife off like a beloved, but useless character. This could be fun.

I went back with a sly grin on my face, made a point to have another character remove it from her presence subtly. Later he presents it to her in a humorous way, both embarrassing her and making her realize just how useless it is and that she needed to let it go. By doing this I killed off the object that started off with meaning, but it’s purpose petered out. An added bonus is that it was a great way to kick-start her character development. Her journey to be less dependent on others and things now out of the gates, her race has just begun. Thanks to the ‘security blanket’ knife being let go, it also symbolized her leaving her old self behind as she leaves it behind as well.

Opportunity can knock in the most unexpected ways. A forgotten object remembered, can shift the story or characters development in a tangible way. She didn’t ever need the knife, just some confidence and a dose of reality. That I was able to make it more important to her growth as a person, while removing it from the story, was an amazing and unexpected outcome.

My advice about being stumped.
Look at the problem from another point of view, perhaps your plan or direction isn’t the only possible outcome.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Stump

Solicited advice.

Twinkle – The word prompt of the day.

There are all kinds of things associated with the word twinkle. It’s a word that conjures the image of light and joy. Twinkle toes, the twinkle of tinsel on a Christmas tree, the moonlight twinkling on the midnight water, a child’s lullaby about stars. For me today the idea of publishing my book has put a twinkle in my eye.

I’m not a fool, I know when I’ve reached my limit and need to solicit professional advice. So I did. Yesterday I had a very motivating consultation. I was told that I am off to a good start and with a little polishing and a lot of work there is potential for my book to be published. I intend to put in whatever effort is necessary to accomplish this task.

My query.  It needs work. I was glad to hear this, because not only did I find out what was wrong, but what to do to fix it. It really was dismal and now it’s showing real promise.

My synopsis. Believe it or not, had a lot of tell, not show. Oops. Well that’s fixable. I also shied away from putting it all out there, laying the full story on the line ending and all. That will be corrected. It is harder to spill the beans when your story contains mystery that was carefully worked in. Keeping it in two pages 12pt double spaced is not an easy task.

My first 50 pages. This is what set me up on cloud nine. While not perfect, I was told my writing is clean, suspenseful and it has good flow, action and dialog. This matches up with what a few others have said, and I can’t tell you how amazing it is to know that it’s not problematic.

My overall word count is still high. I will do what I can to address that. I’m sure if I go over the manuscript carefully I can clean up some sentences.

So armed with the information I need to proceed, the path to publishing is not indirect as it used to be. I am much closer to querying agents in earnest and that is very exciting.

My advice about getting professional help.
Research the professional. What do they have to offer and how professional are they about it? Check many reviews and critiques. Take the time to make sure, if you are paying for a service, that you are getting your value from it. Don’t be afraid to seek professional advice out. If you want others to take you and your writing seriously, then do so yourself.

-Sheryl

PS I’ve been playing with new logo designs. What do you think of the one I used for this post?

Other posts related directly to this one.

The not-so-direct path to publishing.

The first 50 pages.

Query letter “creativity drought”.

The prickly process of writing a Synopsis.

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

Twinkle

The FAB pencil

What’s so FAB about it? It’s just a lame pencil.

Or is it? I have gone through some nifty retail sales training. You know the kind that teaches you to sell your soul to the devil to make the sale. Up-sell, up-sell, up-sell.

I no longer wonder how they do it, how they smoothly transition you from buying the watch to including the warranty, the battery replacement program, the matching belt and shiny new car. I don’t wonder, because I know.

FAB Feature Advantage Benefit. Oddly, this applies nicely to describing something in writing. The lesson is to take an ordinary item say… a super lame ordinary No.2 pencil and show the customer something they can see, touch or smell about it. Then explain the advantage of the feature and smoothly move into how it benefits the customer.

The feature: it has No.2 lead
The advantage: No.2 writes smoothly
The benefit: consistent writing

Feature: built-in eraser
Advantage: erases efficiently
Benefit: saves time having to search for an eraser

F: seamless wood design
A: easy to sharpen
B: no slivers or sharp bits

F: bright yellow paint
A: easy to see
B: hard to lose

These things seem obvious right? Maybe, but now they are clearly stuck in your head. How does this apply to describing items in a story? If you give a purpose to an item then it makes sense. If it’s horribly random then its distracting to the reader. If anything, it will help give an object depth. Even a yawn worthy pencil. I do this with items my characters interact with that are important or interesting.

Sasha plopped the yellow pencil’s end in her mouth. Scrunching her face she removed it instantly. The rubbed-rubber taste reminding her of the party she went to instead of studying. She set the flattened tip to the paper to mark her answer. Only to rub it out second-guessing herself again.

Sasha jumped when the bell rang. She stared wide-eyed at the paper, a test failed before it was marked. Less than half the questions answered. Gripping the pencil in her hands, she tightened her grip, snapping the light wood easily.

My advice about describing things.
Instead of just blurting out what it is with a standard ‘it’s blue’ description, dig deeper and see what it has to offer the user then the interaction between the object and user is more fluid. Be cautious that you don’t go overboard describing an item to the point of excess. Less is more.

-Sheryl

 

Other posts

More is less, and vice versa.

It’s funny you said that…

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 

 

Obvious

Plop

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

 

More is less, and vice versa.

Today’s prompt made me realize something was missing from my writing tools. My arsenal of tricks, techniques and knowledge. Something forgotten and lost. Something to relearn. Not an addiction, trendy magazines, or Florida based TV show references, but a method to convey the reverse.

Vice“>Vice Versa. Simply put, it means to state the opposite of what was said.

Easy to use and easy to use incorrectly.

For example.

“Can I come?”
He smiled. “Sure, but bring your own book, and vice versa.”
She raised her eyebrow, the temptation to let him know that a book cannot bring her to the book review club on the tip of her tongue.

“If he wants to win the cooking competition, he needs to spend more time prepping the meals, and vice versa.”

Meals cannot prep a person. I have heard this used incorrectly a few times, but in the right place, it can make the point shorter, cutting word count too.

“It cannot be. Birds do not breathe under water, just as a fish cannot breathe air.”
“It cannot be. Birds do not breathe like fish, and vice versa.”

How I might use visa versa.

Billy sauntered into the café, ordered his usual and found his back corner table. Sitting comfortably with a slouch he pulled his book out to read and wait.

He hid his malicious smile behind his book as she hesitated outside the door. “Glutton for punishment.” He chuckled as she ordered. She sat with her mug of coffee three tables away, casting icy glances his way.

Halfway through her cup, he stood with his and strolled by her table.

She glared up at him. “You owe me a cup of coffee you deplorable creature.” He looked down at her abnormally tidy hair and perfect makeup. This woman snubbed him because of his clothes, she treats the baristas as inferiors and steps on others to get where she is.

“You’re right.” He looked at his mug. “I can only afford half today.” He dumped the remains of his coffee into her mug. “I’ll get you the other half next time.” He set his mug down and once again left her stunned as she watched him leave.

There was no doubt, she despised him, and vice versa.

My advice today.
Things you knew well can be forgotten and rediscovered again by something as simple as a word prompt. Just don’t overdo it when you get it back. 😉 After all more is less, and vice versa.

-Sheryl

The story that occurs before this one: That is disgusting

And another post by me.
The “word count” down.

 

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Doubt