Where Did It Go? – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Where Did It Go? . Originally posted on Sep 11, 2016 9:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded of items that disappear.

stumped

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 without my authorization 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 to 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 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.

Objects can be as simple as a cup of coffee, or as complicated as a pet. Whatever the case may be the item must be interacted with or discarded tactfully. Here are some items I notice that often go missing by lack of writing the item consistently.

Purses
Wallets
Coffee cups
Cigarettes
Pens
Gum
Briefcase, book, papers or envelopes
Food
Jacket
Tickets
Cellphone
Car keys
Weapons

The point is to notice these magic act items have disappeared and evaluate their worth. Were they there to enhance the character or provide an unnecessary action tag? Do they show a flaw or quirk in character or is it mundane? What I mean is you can’t have someone nursing a cup of joe as if it’s a life-giving device then have them run off to chase something. Where did the coffee go? Make sure to tie it up and set it down or have it spill and the character curse about the hot coffee or the loss of the precious drink. Either way, if you add an interactive item don’t let it vanish.

If it’s a meal that they are participating in, it doesn’t need to be a play by play of every bite savored for its perfection or despised for it’s cheap lackluster. The easiest way to conclude a meal is to have them set their fork and knife down. How they do that can be indicative of the character and emotions. If there are no emotions, say to slam the fork down, toss it nonchalantly or stab the other person, then maybe check to see if that eating scene is important to the story or the character. The same goes for gum or cigarettes, do they dispose of the waste respectfully or do they stick the gum under a table or toss the cigarette butt in someone’s face? I try not to have an object interacted with, be of no use to the story. Use the item, I try not to have a character treat an item the way I would. It is a great way to show emotion or intention.

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. Have some fun with objects that have no real purpose. Give them a purpose and let them show a characters emotional state, bad habits or intent.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

Stump

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Getting A Little Touchy Feely – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Getting A Little Touchy Feely . Originally posted on Sep 9, 2016 9:55 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that we all need to be reminded about using variations of feel in writing. I know I do. 

touchy-feely

Getting A Little Touchy Feely

Feel, feeling and felt. Three destructive little filter words. These words shift perspective from the story and into the character. It’s awkward to read and leaves a reader feeling disjointed even if they aren’t aware. I don’t write in first person perspective so these words in particular can cripple a sentence fast.

What to do about them. I use them a lot when I write, it’s how I get out what needs to be said, what I need to express. It’s lazy and I’m okay with that because it won’t stay that way. I searched my manuscript and found the following incidences:

Bia-Atlas:
Felt 67

Feel 112
Feeling/feelings 23

Prophecy Ink 1st draft:
Felt 89
Feel 97
Feeling/feelings 39

Not all of them are filter word incidences. Within conversation or dialogue, they are fine or as a verb unrelated to emotions. These three are often (At least in my case) plunked into wordy sentences or super lazy ones.

Since I wrote this I’ve done more editing and found better ways to highlight other errors and filter words. I’ll highlight the ones I missed in these examples in hot pink.

For example.

Joe put the sandwich together hastily. He felt the hunger pangs in his stomach. It had been ten hours since he remembered to eat last. He left the house with the printout to meet Sasha. He was excited to show her the new proof and felt certain she would believe him now. (52)

There’s a whole lot of telling going on. Let me try that again.

Finally, Joe found some undeniable proof after searching eight hours straight without even a snack. His stomach growled as he picked up the printout, his hastily made ham sandwich, and ran out the door to meet Sasha. (37)

 That was better, less wordy too. Here’s a mistake I make all the time.

Joe dragged his feet along the path, feeling the course gravel scuffed the soles of his shoes. (17)

There is no reason to feel through his shoes and yet I am guilty of having characters ‘feeling’ unnecessary things.

Joe dragged his feet, scuffing his shoes along the coarse gravel path. (12)

See now I would not have that ING in there. Scuffing. 

The coarse gravel scraped against Joe’s shoes as he dragged his feet along the path. (15)

Editing and revising is a learned skill. Over time I’ve learned to examine sentences closer, to take a good hard look at the value of each word. 

Joe is an emotional person so writing his feelings can be tricky.

Joe looked at Sasha then back to the path. He felt frustrated with her constant lack of interest in him lately. She just wouldn’t listen to reason, he was right this time and he knew it. He even had the proof in his hand to show her. He felt angry when she sighed dismissively and now he was ready to snap. (61)

In that one, I made a few oopsies. Filter words, wrong perspective, and wordiness. Instead of showing, I told his emotions.

Joe glanced at Sasha as he clenched his jaw. She was ignoring the hard evidence that he worked hard to find. She rolled her eyes when he tried to show her again. When she sighed dismissively, he clenched his fists, crumpling the precious printout. (44)

That’s a lot of clenching for one paragraph and still, there are some weak sentences. This is why I’ve started revisiting old posts. I wanted to show that as writers, we are constantly growing, learning and changing. This is how I might revise that revision now.

The muscles tightened in Joe’s jaw as Sasha ignored his hard found evidence. She dismissed the second attempt with an eye-roll, and when the third won him a heavy sigh, he crumpled the precious printout in his fist. (38)

Technically that brought that example down from the original 61 to 38. Not bad. Especially since this is a wordy manuscript that needs a lot of TLC.

Sometimes it’s not about word count and more about beefing up empty sentences. I’m going to highlight my filter words for these in pink as well. Let’s see how many make it through my “revisions.”

Feeling tired, Sasha crawled into the bath. The hot water felt divine. (12)

It’s like whiplash. In her mind, out and then back in. To fix this I would add words, it’s not always about keeping the word count down. That and it was a very boring sentence. The temptation to overdo it here is strong. Before I learned to make every word count, (Haha at least I try to) and to stop double describing things, it might have looked like this.

Stifling a yawn of exhaustion, Sasha eased herself into the hot jasmine scented bath. The heat from the hot water and the scent of flowers soothing her tired body. (28)

Gee, do you think the water is hot? Baths usually are duh, I’m not sure, and it’s not super clear, but she might possibly be tired. *Rolling my own eyes.

Yawning, Sasha eased into the jasmine-scented bath. The heat from the water soothing her tired muscles. (17)

There much better. Only five words added from the original and it’s not hurting my brain to read it. Except I have two ING’s in there. Now that I’ve had a lot more practice at this let’s see if I can fix it.

Sasha stifled a yawn as she eased into the jasmine-scented bath. Her sore body rejoiced as she relaxed from the heat. (21)

I could easily reduce it back down if I needed to, but sometimes more is better than less in a fugacious moment such as this one.

My advice about feelings.
Everyone has them, good or bad just make sure to keep them outside the character’s body or mind. Unless you are writing in first-person, show the feeling don’t tell it. he clenched his jaw (instead of) he felt frustrated.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Unidentified Fervent Outburst! – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Unidentified Fervent Outburst . Originally posted on Sep 15, 2016 10:40 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that I saw someone with a published book who used what seemed like a billion exclamation points and I found it hard to connect with the story because I was distracted.. 

Unidentified Fervent Outburst!

When I wrote my first draft, everyone that raised their voice or yelled had one of these beauties ending their sentence, ! The exclamation point. I am also a narrative question junkie. I must confess, I used punctuation incorrectly. (By incorrectly I mostly mean too much.) I probably still do from time to time, especially the overused exclamation point.

Why use an exclamation point? What does exclamation mean? Exclaim means to shout out, blurt or say with force. The exclamation point is used to emphasize an outburst of vocal emotion.

So why is it overused? Some older writings popularized it by replacing emotional reactions with ! instead of showing the emotional reaction.  Now with social media, it is used as often as a vowel. When we write an email, post, text or whatever when emotionally charged the exclamations multiply like Mogwai in water.

!!! The triple threat !!! These triplets drag along a few more if someone is screaming or whatever. I don’t do this ever. One is more than enough and even then, is it necessary? I already knew about the three punctuation in a row rule from work. !!! ??? is spam material and a horrible way to express feeling in writing. Emails containing them can be flagged by spam filters and firewalls. Also, this type of expression can be viewed as aggressive, rude or as screaming. Also never ever use them on a resume or technical report.

Mixology 101.  Mixing the punctuation. Nope, nope and nope. Never !?!  ?!?  Again, one punctuation is enough!

Inappropriate tone. “I didn’t know!” – What tone of voice is that?
Angry? Snotty? Confused? Desperate? Sad? Remorseful?
I find these all the time in my rough drafts.
Unidentified fervent outbursts.
What do I do about them? Dress them up and show the emotion behind the exclamation point. It’s not always about yelling.

Sasha slammed her fist on the desktop. “I didn’t know!”

“I didn’t know!” Sasha hid her face with her hands.

Sasha covered her mouth with her hand. “I didn’t know!” She couldn’t look away.

The tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know!”

No matter what she is yelling. Does she need to be yelling? 

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.”

Removing the ! changed the tone completely. Now if she wasn’t supposed to yell It’s still not clear.

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch. “I didn’t know.” She said from behind her hand.

Okay, so that’s a bit better. What if I wanted to show anger without yelling?

Tears fell unchecked as Sasha sat hard on the couch with a scowl. “I didn’t know.” 

Moving on. I will use the “Find” feature to see how many incidences of punctuation I have. !  ?   then I’ll highlight them using the “find & replace” feature if I need to weed some out. as I do in “Well colour me silly.”

Rhetorically speaking.  Ending rhetorical questions with an exclamation point is tempting and common. Also unnecessary. Rhetorical questions can be ended in periods or question marks. It’s not a real question and I’m not yelling or blurting it and it’s usually obvious enough that the exclamation point is redundant.

My conversations were littered with them.

From my first draft of BiaAtlas before I edited it at all there were:

! x 120 
? x 1260 (Yes seriously. I have an addiction to questions in the narrative. Gross.)
As it is right now I have them down to:
! x 86
? x 1073
Clearly, I still need to visit those and make sure they are necessary.

So when do I use them or leave them? Only when it’s important. I use the search/find feature and take a good hard look. Here are some examples of okay use.

Excitement – “Wow that’s amazing!”
Urgent – “You have to go, now!”
Astonished – “I can’t believe you just said that!”
Vehemence – “I hate this!”
Shock – “You didn’t!”
Warning – “Look out!”

And so on. It’s not rocket science.  I personally don’t enjoy seeing them in abundance in my writing if they can be avoided I take them out. I was told once that the reader isn’t likely an idiot and if you write well they will know the person is yelling without !!! or saying ‘he yelled’.  It is my job to bring the reader in and settle them into the story and let them experience it. Tossing “!” in every time someone talks is annoying. Imagine if we actually spoke that way, we’d be yelling and blurting things constantly and over dramatizing a simple conversation.

For fun in the following two examples, I’m going to highlight in green the things I would highlight during my edits.

Joe slogged down the hall his feet thumping loudly on the floor, but he couldn’t feel them. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you drank that much!” Sasha giggled holding him up.
“I know right!” Joe said. “I never do. What will my mother think!”
“Oh no! You had better not go home tonight! Crash at my place I’ll send her a text.”
“I’m gonna puke!!!” Joe said doubling over and vomiting the beer and pizza on the floor.

I feel anxious just reading that and not because it’s tense, I’m not so sure it should be. NOt to mention how awkward that was. Let me try again.

With numb feet, Joe slogged down the hall. “I hate this!”
“I can’t believe you chugged five beers.” Sasha shook her head and giggled at his slurred speech. She held him steady, moving toward the exit quickly.
“I know right! What will my mother think?”
Sasha’s eyes widened at the prospect of dropping him at home. “Crash at my place, I’ll text her to let her know.”
Joe burped and gagged. “I’m gonna puke.”
“Oh no.” Sasha pulled him along faster, outside would be better.
The fresh air did little to help him as he gave his pizza and beer to the sidewalk.

Much better, less ! made for a better conversation. In my opinion. I also showed my affinity for ING and LY. Ugh. At least in my second attempt, I had fewer occurrences. I was okay with Joe’s punctuation because he was actually blurting and raising his voice.

My advice about exclaiming everything with exclamation marks.
Don’t!

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Expect The Unexpected… Or Not – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in green within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Expect the unexpected… or not . Originally posted on Sep 10, 2016 5:27 PM. The reason I’m revisiting is it’s easy to let a character peter out, and lose them in the story.

Expect The Unexpected… Or not

Sometimes a character or a side story’s direction can peter out. They will lose direction, interest or momentum. I like to make a side story/character impactful in some way. I generally have an idea where it will go and how it fits in and affects the main story.

What happens when it’s not meeting the mark? It’s time to recharge the story or character.

What do I do? First, I don’t let myself get discouraged. Then I take a break to come back with a fresh perspective and take a good look at the problem. Usually, for me, the issue is lack of action. Second, I think what I want to accomplish and can I spice it up. This can take seconds to days or even weeks to come up with a new direction, a game changer. They can be main or subplot twists. They don’t have to be dramatic or huge, subtle works too. That can be tedious to wait for an idea from the deep recesses of my brain. I make two lists to spark inspiration. One is random things that can happen and one of the random things that make no sense to the story. They can look like this.

Possible

  • Serious injury (be careful with this one. Know the injury, the pain response and how they would move, act and feel. If you’ve never been seriously injured, talk to someone who has.)
  • Car accident
  • Wins money or item
  • Break-in
  • Theft
  • Finds a big clue or evidence
  • Betrayal (Make sure there is a reason for this.)
  • Dissolve a friendship (People grow apart, things can tear friends or lovers apart. Make sure it fits in the personalities and break a heart.)
  • Falls for the wrong person
  • New adversary
  • Loss of funding
  • Inadvertently kills someone (maybe self-defense)
  • Breaks the law
  • Saves a life
  • Loss of power
  • Shift in management
  • New team member or co-worker
  • Failed plan
  • Abduction
  • Fire
  • Natural Disaster
  • meet someone new (Sometimes the introduction of a new character can spice things up if their personality clashes or drives the story forward.)

 

Impossible (Kind of possible but not great ideas that are book specific)

  • A company suddenly shuts down
  • Death of the main character (NEVER do this.)
  • Death of support character (While popular, this can be risky for a debut author to do.)
  • Become outlaws
  • Bad guys become in charge (Unless this is temporary or important to plot, I won’t do this as it doesn’t work for my story.)
  • Asked/told/commanded to do something unethical (Great for conflict creation)
  • Plans or commits murder
  • Spills information or secrets to the wrong guys (This can work, but it has to be written well and fit into the story.)
  • Takes up arms against allies (There better be a damned good reason. Since I wrote this, I do have a character that does this, it was foreshadowed, not a surprise and it was important to the plot.)

I make these lists primarily to put ideas in my head. (The lists are not always the same and are story specific. They are ideas that fit or won’t fit with the particular project I’m currently working on. For example in my new book, my MC off-hand thinks of murder. She’s given a good reason. That is a kind of planning. In my original MS, I wouldn’t have my MC even think about it.) Often they will lead my mind down a path to something that makes me gasp, sit up and feel the excitement. Determining what’s possible and impossible will depend on the base morals of the story and the characters within. For this, I’m not worried about foreshadowing, unless it’s really big and needs a little setup. I like a surprise, the random things that the reader doesn’t see coming (I still like this.) However, I use this in moderation, if it’s a constant storm of ‘what the hell just happened!’ it can distract from the story and turn the reader off. Plot twists are great. Plot turns are fantastic, blowing it to kingdom come… probably not a great way to endear readers to you. I say this because I’ve read books where nothing was foreshadowed, big things happened all the time for no apparent reason and it was frustrating beyond reason to read. (I still agree with this, too much is… too much. I have also recently read a book where the big random things happened and they had nothing to do with the story. It was weird and hard to care about the story because of it.)

It’s kind of fun to look at where you want it to go, and make a list of the exact opposite and think about what would happen if…

My advice about recharging a lifeless character or plot.
There are unlimited options to stir the pot and rejuvenate a character or story, my actual lists are much longer and really random.  Make some lists and keep an open mind. It’s okay to play devil’s advocate if it saves the story from becoming a Yawn-farm.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Spaces, The Final Frontier

Spaces, The Final Frontier  (2).png

Spaces, The Final Frontier

There seems to be some debate online and in the blogosphere about spacing after punctuation. I’ve talked about spacing before because I used to do it wrong and once in a while I catch myself double spacing. I have read articles arguing both single and double spacing after punctuation is correct. However, I found a vast majority that for manuscripts being submitted to literary agencies and publishers they want to see single spaces after punctuation. I have consulted with industry professionals and they all say single space only. Why is that? I’ve summed it up for you.

Back in the day when typewriters were the only form of typeset commonly used, all the letters took up the same amount of space, the typeset was visually ‘gappy.’ It didn’t matter if it was an i or a w or a , or . Thus to create a visual break a double space was used after all punctuation.

Today with the use of computers the industry standard for novels and general writing is a single space after punctuation. Now I know What people are going to say. But I was taught to double space.” Yes, and so was I. Because those teaching learned double space. We teach what we learned ourselves. There is an air of stubbornness about this subject that is fascinating and odd. It’s how I always did it, and I’m not stopping for anyone.” That’s fine, but if that level of stubbornness is displayed over something so minor (and easy to fix), the writer might be deemed inflexible and hard to work with and an agent or publisher might pass. While our books are our babies and we pour our heart and souls into them, I was given some golden advice from a trusted industry professional.

“If you are unwilling to change anything in your manuscript, edit or even revise to an agent or publishers request then traditional publishing may not be for you. Be flexible, willing to change, learn and grow. They know what they are doing and what will sell.”

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s true. How many times have I tolled over my manuscript? Changing things here and there, it can be an unending task. So why would I stop, submit to an agent or publisher and then say that it’s perfect and no I won’t change that paragraph, setting or the double spaces after punctuation? 

The benefits of single space:

The single space saves on space on the page. Seriously, in a book of 410 pages single spaced if I were to double space after just the periods it would add one full page, more if I were to do all punctuation. In this document there 5277 spaces removed when I went from double-spaced to single and ONLY after periods. Imagine how much more it would be if it were with all punctuation.

Honestly, when I found out I needed to reformat three completed 400+ page manuscripts to single space, I was floored and exasperated. Damn, that’s going to take forever! No, it isn’t. All I did was make a list of ending punctuation where a double space would follow. Such as:

Periods, commas, semicolons, colons, exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks.

 “        ?         .     ;     :     )    &    @

(Use spaces before and after @ symbol except when it’s in an email.)

I then went to the find and replace feature(indicated by the red arrow below)

spacing

A box will pop up to “Find what:”  this is where I will type a period with two spaces after it then, enter a period in “Replace with:” with only one space after the period. I can then either “Find next and Replace” one by one or I can “Replace All.”

I merely repeated this for all punctuation.

These do not get spaces:

                                   Dashes         Wide-eyed. “I was going to-”  Ten-year-old
                                   Slashes         Either/or  This/that
Special Characters %  #  $         The #5 was actually $5.00.  10%  

The bottom line is if you want to double space go for it. It seriously only took me about a week to break myself of the double space habit. (I still do from time to time. Especially if I’m tired.) I have researched this subject on an off for a few years now (when it comes up), and I can say that the current majority says double space isn’t necessary or desired.

Now for a real kick in the pants, the newer generation is teaching themselves to write without spaces after punctuation at all. Why? Texting and laziness. I can just imagine all their English teachers cringing or pouring an extra glass of wine as they grind their eyes across their writing.

One article or blog will say one space others will be adamant it’s still two. I go by what the current professionals tell me, the ones working in the industry. Now if a teacher says to double space, then follow their instruction, but when an editor, publisher and professional writers all say single, I’ll follow their advice because I am sending my manuscript to them not my high school teacher from many moons ago.

My advice about spacing after punctuation

Single is industry standard. If you’re going to self-publish, then it’s up to you. If you’re looking at traditional publishing, conforming to that standard is necessary. P.S. that Search and Find feature is totally my favorite tool. Never use no-spaces after punctuation. Ever. Just don’t. It’s not natural to read without a space break between sentences. Single or double after punctuation is ultimately up to you, just be consistent.

Sheryl

Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/08/14/your-daily-word-prompt-natural-august-13th-2018/

Desperately Procrastinating – Throwback Thursday Style #TBT

Good morning, it’s Thursday, and that means I’m going to post a throwback from my earlier posts. Essentially a re-post of an old archived post with new notes and observations. 

tbt 3

Anything added(except grammar and spelling corrections) are marked in blue within the original Post’s text. 

The next post I’m going to revisit is Desperately Procrastinating . Originally posted on Sep 12, 2016 8:12 AM. The reason I’m revisiting is that it’s easy to procrastinate, heck I’m doing it right now. I have a book to re-write and I find myself doing a lot of other things, especially as I acclimatize to all the changes in my life right now.

desperately

Desperately Procrastinating

As I sit revising and proofing my book again, (Now I’m in the midst of a total book re-write which happens to be the same book I was proofing at the time I wrote this) I find myself constantly distracted. Granted there is a lot going on, it’s as if my mind is like rays of sun through a crystal, leaving little rainbows scattered about.

A slight desperation zings through me to work and get the word count down to a more reasonable number. (Too funny, I am still trying to bring the word count down. that reasonable number of 120k was still too high for industry standard.) As I read carefully, I remove wordiness and missed filter words, the thump of a bird hitting the window veers my attention off the road. As my concentration crashes, I catch a glimpse of my sprinkled light.

I get back on track. Wait, I need a drink. So I go to the kitchen to slake my thirst with some freshly brewed tea and stop to pet the cat. I see little rainbows of inspiration.

Every distraction leaps out and demands my attention. Is this a bad thing? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s the mundane everyday things that influence my creativity. Stepping on a piece of Lego hurts like nothing else, it reminds me to put pain and discomfort into my characters. Another aspect I try not to forget. (This is good advice. Random things can happen in life, why not in a book. Stub a toe or bang an elbow to releive scene tension or open dialogue in a funny way. Make sure to show the pain rather than tell it. for example. Moira crept into the unfamiliar kitchen and misjudged the distance to the counter. She held her elbow, pressed her lips together to stifle the noise. The lights flicked on. “You tiptoe like a tap dancer,” York said.)

Some days the distractions come easier and I willingly submit to the wonderfully regretful world of procrastination. Even as I peruse memes and click-bait online(Now it’s twitter I don’t click-bait anymore), the scattered shards of rainbow light glitter and motivate me. Suddenly it’s back, the drive and desire to focus and work. 

My body and mind need sleep to recuperate. I think that some days, my mind needs a mini vacation from concentrating and creating. Against my better judgement, my mind desperately procrastinates, fervently hoping my guilt stays in the shadows so it can have some free time. (I still do this.)

My advice about procrastination.
It’s not always a bad thing, in my opinion, it can be a sign to take a break or change venues for a moment. If I’m distracted or find myself procrastinating too easily I know it’s time to change it up and do something else for a while. Usually something fun.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

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Rejection’s Are Okay

Rejected

Rejections are okay, they are not the end, just a step along the way.

I want to talk about rejection. Specifically about the Query process and query rejections.  I have a finished manuscript also known as a novel or book. I have a cover letter called a query letter that outlines the story and me. I have a synopsis prepared, that is an outline of the entire novel in two pages. 

With all that ready to go, I research Literary Agencies and Literary Agents carefully. I’m searching for one that represents my Genre and subgenre’s, one that I feel would be a good match for my project and me. Then I follow their personal or agency submission guidelines and send them the materials they want to see. (Never send more than what they list)

Then I wait. I check my email like an addict and hit that refresh button as if I can’t function without doing so. Each time I hold my breath, scrunch my eyes and pray to see a Yes, please send more materials.

The dream is to get a yes and then have the agent fall in love with the manuscript and want to represent me.

This is the road to Traditional Publishing. It is a bumpy road full of rejection potholes. 

So what happens when you get a rejection from an agent?

First, the emotional let down is akin to being punched in the gut. They are after all rejecting my heart, soul, and hard work. Oh, and they are rejecting me. It sucks.

Here is a sample of a rejection email I received.

“Thanks so much for sending along the sample pages of Prophecy Ink I’m sorry to say, though, that I just wasn’t as completely drawn in by the material as much as I had hoped.  What with my reservations, I’d better bow out.  Thanks so much for contacting me, though!  I really appreciate it, and wish you the best of luck.”

As it turns out this one was what is called a FORM rejection. A copy-and-paste response. While we hope and pray for some feedback from rejection, the reality is that Agents are busier than we think and this form saves them time. They already spent time reading the queried material they listed to send. I figure the agents are hopeful when they open a query, “Maybe this will be the one,” and when it’s not, I bet they are crushed a little. Now they have to reject someone and their hard work. That has to suck to do. Even if it isn’t personalized the responses are polite and I appreciate that.

If I have an email to respond to, I will thank them again for their time and consideration. I have no idea if Agents want this or not. Despite crushing my hopes and dreams, they are human too, I figure a nice thank you is appropriate.

Side note: some writers get aggressive at this point. They can become belligerent, rude and insulting to agents that say no. Don’t do this. It doesn’t make you right, better or even a good human. That and agents tend to talk and know each other. Just be nice. Patience is required for Traditional Publishing.

Now I have rejection after rejection coming in. Most are form, and some have a little personal note. 

All rejections are hard to take, however, all rejections are a step forward. The advice or message in the rejection can sometimes be helpful. Take this for example:

“After reading your first page, I’m sorry this manuscript is not a good fit for me.” and “I read the first chapter and will pass on this project.”  

These both pointed to a potential problem. I paused queries and took a hard look. Did some digging and research and eventually found some other agents talking about story openings that will get an instant “No” or “Pass.” Huh. No scenes where the Main Character is dreaming, waking up, walking around doing mundane chores… the list went on. I’ll get into that another time. 

Well crap. My story hinged on the premise that Moira wakes up with a tattoo she doesn’t recall getting. Double crap. The chapter was in need of renewal, a renovation of sorts. So I rewrote the first chapter to have her already awake. Is that enough? Time will tell. If I need to rewrite a different angle, I will. Refusing to bend, adjust or change my work will not help me become published. Some would say it’s a “Pushover” or “foolish” thing to change to fit a standard. It’s not. The entire point is to get by a book published and if agents and publishers turn down something for a specific reason and I’ve used that “Something” you better believe I’m going to change it. It would be like walking into the office wearing a bikini. Sure it looks good, and it’s technically clothing, but if they say “You need to change the clothes to work here” You’re likely going to change into more appropriate clothing. Changing the opening isn’t compromising the entire story or me. 

Anyone pursuing traditional publishing will receive rejections. A lot of them. Sure there are the magic few that got signed right away. There are also lottery winners who’ve wone millions. Not many, but it can happen. I’m not holding my breath on luck. I will keep pushing, keep querying and keep trying until I find an agent who wants to work with my manuscript and me. 

My advice about Rejections. 

Rejections are Okay. Get them, get over them, and keep on going. Don’t let rejections deter you or get in the way. Learn from them if you can and know that eventually when you get a YES, all the rejections, hard work, and time will make that yes, sweeter.

-Sheryl

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#BoostMyBio – Adult UF-MR + A little bit about me

Auggie

For anyone who has no clue what #BoostMyBio is, I only figured it out a couple days ago. I’ve been participating in various twitter pitch parties, and I’m preparing for something called PitchWars. If you’re a writer with an unpublished completed manuscript, synopsis and a query letter, then this might be for you. Click on their lovely logo(Below) to visit their site, see the rules and get the low-down.pitch wars

Today is the #BoostMyBio Blog hop. It is not affiliated with PitchWars. It is, however a great way to meet other entrants and meet other writers. This is my first PitchWars and #BoostMyBio.

My blog is all about me and my journey as a writer. All that I’ve learned since I sat down and typed out “No Joe, I don’t believe in superheroes.” The first sentence for my first completed novel. It’s not the first sentence anymore, but it did start this crazy journey.

I don’t usually share personal stuff on my blog, today I will share a bit. At the bottom, I’ll share my “Aesthetics” for Mora and the antagonist.

I am still not sure if I’m submitting BiaAtlas or Prophecy Ink. It will likely depend on the status of BiaAtlas at the time of submissions. For now, I’ll focus on Prophecy Ink since this is the manuscript I am currently pitching in pitch parties and querying to agents.

Pitch Wars has introduced me to some fantastic, beautiful writers who continuously support each other and offer help freely. 

When I’m asked what my writing style is, I don’t have a polished answer ready. I write I don’t have a specific method in mind I simply have a story to tell. 

Favorite authors. I have too many to list. So I’ll start with the two that inspired me to want to write almost 25 years before I drafted my first manuscript. Jude Deveraux, who was the first author to make me fall in love with the characters. And Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the cave bear was the first to make me hate a character and cry openly while reading. I discovered the passion and emotion of reading that would grow into the desire to write my own.

I am a coffee-free writer. I haven’t had a cup of coffee in almost 13 years. I crave it. Still, I dream about it, and that is partly why I’ll never drink it again. Addiction runs in my family, and when I gave it up for health reasons, I was stunned at how severe the withdrawals were.

I tend to do a lot of research. I like to know about things. Whether it’s how to use dashes and M-dashes correctly, or the depth that an axe will sink into a torso and what damage it causes, I want to know things. 

Lastly, I try my best to be a positive person and influence. I prefer to lift people up than step on them. I am married to a supportive, caring and funny man. We have one child, a witty and funloving boy who loves being outdoors. I have one Cat and two kittens who will be joining our home this week. I currently have eight completed books in the queue for editing and revising. Several are sequels to BiaAtlas.

Prophecy Ink is an Urban Fantasy with Magical Realism and is an Adult book. The book contains graphic violence, humor and a good dose of action.

Here are a few of my Pitch Wars pitches that I used on Twitter and my Aesthetics.

With a death-predicting tattoo, Moira must redeem herself by saving strangers lives while being hunted by a fanatical group. She must face the people of her past that set her on a path of unaware self-destruction. Then she must work with them to survive.

The police betrayed Moira as a teen. Now a detective dogs her every move because wherever she goes, people die. It’s not her fault, but she can stop death from happening. All she has to do is learn to trust a cop, her instinct and the magic tattoo on her arm.

Moira never expected to have the choice between the life and death of strangers predicted by a magic tattoo. Saving a life gets her closer to freedom, which makes it hard when it’s someone who deserves to die. Being Judge, jury, and executioner is complicated.

aesthetic

aestheic antagonist 1

Thanks for stopping by, have fun visiting other Pitch Wars hopefuls.

Cheers.

-Sheryl

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