Sunday, June 28, 2009

4 days and counting...

Ok. It has been 4 days since I've been on Authonomy. (Deep breath) I'm fighting the urge as we speak, but I'm not going to do it. (I'm leaning toward eating a box of cookies instead, but that's a whole other issue...)

Yes, my rank is sliding. Yes, the Editor's Desk is getting farther and farther away. And yes, I'm happy to be back to my life as I knew it.

Thanks for all who encouraged me to get off Authonomy and back to doing what I should be: WRITING!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dialogue vs. Narrative Prose

I am the first to confess that I love writing description. Drive me by a hillside of grazing sheep and maybe a stray butterfly floating on the wind (see, there I go again) and I will describe the heck out of it...for pages...and pages...and then maybe just one more...

This is what I've been told lately and so have been diligently working to correct this **ahem** flaw so to speak. It is painful for me to let go of any word (I love them so...) let alone whole paragraphs. And it has been a struggle to turn some of my narration into dialogue, but I do see the difference when I re-read. I do see my work becoming more "active" so to speak.

I still believe there is a place for narrative prose in literary works and sometimes wonder if perhaps some of my beta readers are comparing my manuscript to chick lit work or science fiction pieces. I know as a reader of literary fiction, I am forgiving (and actually enjoy) the paragraphs of description and detail but wonder sometimes if I'm the exception.

So tell me, where do you sit on the dialogue vs. narrative debate? What do you lean toward in your own writing?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


So where have I been lately? Certainly not blogging as much as I'd like and certainly not keeping up my word counts the way I had planned.

I'll come right out with it...I've been addicted to the Authonomy website. A few months ago I had posted part of my first novel there hoping for friendly camaraderie with other writers and helpful critiques for yet another edit. Of course there was the coveted Harper Collins Editor's Desk looming on the horizon for the top 5 peer ranked books each month, but that's not what I was gunning least not at the beginning. So I delved in with enthusiasm, reading other novice manuscripts and I began receiving confidence boosting praise and helpful nit-picks for my own revision. The tips and advice were right on and my work was improving.

Life was good.

But then a wonderful-awful thing happened. My work began to climb...and quickly. Suddenly the ED was not looming in the distance but edging at the end of a sprint line. So what was the awful part? The fact that authonomy has been consuming my entire life! Reading and commenting, returning swaps, digesting the crits and editing...yikes! It makes me wonder who has been feeding and bathing the kids this past month!

So today, I'm frustrated and rebelling...I'm not looking. Nope. Not looking. (Okay, well I looked once but I'm not reading...) I'm going to the beach. I'm taking a mental health day because I've decided we writerly types weren't cut out for such cut throat races and competition. We're a leisurely, friendly bunch...a group needing the inspiration of nature and the companionship of PEOPLE to help our work thrive and flourish.

After my initial thoughts on the brilliance of such a website dedicated to the mutual critique of aspiring writers in which the best will pull forward and garner deserved attention, I now wonder if it doesn't create unnecessary competition and dastardly nit picks. I write literary fiction so I'm frustrated by the writers of chick lit advising that my sentences are too long or that there isn't enough dialogue. I'm tired of writer's of science fiction telling me that my work didn't catch their imagination. I've decided that mass reading and critquing may not be the answer I'm looking for.

After all, isn't writing an art? Isn't there room on the Barnes and Nobles book shelf for all our books?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I have a feeling that I'm somewhat archaic in my dislike of e-books. This doesn't mean I'm not willing to change...given the right techniques of persuasion, of course.

You see, my husband is constantly regaling me with great e-books he has seen and down-loaded. He's constantly telling me (to be supportive, I've no doubt!) that when I get published, the e-book will get my work out there to the masses so much more efficiently than simply sitting on the Barnes and Nobles book shelf.

And each time - if I'm honest - I cringe.

I have a mental block it seems about reading literature on a computer screen. I think it takes away from the entire beauty of what reading really is and ought to be. When I read a novel, for instance, it isn't just the story that carries me away, it is the holding of the book in my hands and feeling the crispness of the pages against my fingers. It is the smell of a book too. It can be the raw and heady scent of a brand new book with it's tight binding and pages that occasionally stick together. Or the smell of the book I last had on the beach smelling faintly of sun screen and sand. There is something truly delightful about holding a book in my hands and sliding a bookmark into the place where I leave off that I don't think any other medium can even come close to let alone replace.

In fact, I won't even let my circle of trusted readers take a look at my manuscript online...I'm afraid it will come off like a textbook or research. I want my book to be an experience.

I can remember just where I was when I read The Kite Runner: I was sitting in the car waiting for soccer practice to be over, and then I was standing by the stove stirring macaroni and cheese, and then I was lying in bed with just my clip on book light for the end. See? It was a total experience that would have been tragically different had I been tied to my computer screen for the duration.

But I'm a reasonable person. I'm open to finding out if my vision of reading and publishing is old fashioned and out-dated.

Have you published an e-book? Would you? I'm open to being persuaded...if you do a good job, perhaps you can even convince me to download my first book!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm feeling so happy today.

Yup. Just thought I'd share.

Maybe it's the sun shining and the kids getting out of school for the summer - the promise of long days at the beach writing (which as I've said before, is my most productive spot...)

Maybe it's reading all the wonderful blogs of my fellow writers that has inspired me to keep at it and stop feeling like an unpublished fraud...

Maybe it's having finally stumbled upon THE song that has re-energized my new novel...

Maybe it's the continuing climb on the for Scream Out Loud...every day one step closer to their editor's desk...

Don't know. Maybe it's the diet coke I'm drinking...could be...

Over the weekend I started my third re-read and edit of Scream Out Loud using the helpful critiques of fellow writers on Authonomy and if truth be told, found the whole experience joyful. Yes. Joyful. There's no other word for it.

You see, someone had suggested that I insert dialogue for two areas of prose that felt particularly heavy with back story. So I sat down with the enormous task of turning this beautifully descriptive narrative (I'm allowed to say that since I wrote it!) into lively, informative dialogue. Yikes.

But I did what I was told and put the proverbial butt in chair and refused to get up until it was finished. The result? A much more cohesive and attention grabbing first chapter!

I'm so grateful for all the helpful hints and suggestions I have been getting from fellow writers and readers. What have been the best (and worst!) suggestions you have received to improve your own manuscripts?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Yesterday's Aha! Moment

My son was watching me create my database for agent queries...

Son: Mom, how many agents are there in the world?

Me : Hundreds. Thousands. (admittedly distracted)

Son: That's great, mom!

Me: Great? How's that great? (Bear in mind, I'm in the throws of reading hundreds...thousands of agent websites...)

Son: Because you only need one to say yes!

And there it is: Aha!

Monday, June 1, 2009

$*&@# This Query Letter!

As you can see, I am reworking my query letter for a second round of agent submissions and am in agony! I've done my research and read the guidelines for "the perfect query letter." But is there really such a thing? Is there really a perfect query?

It seems this right-brain letter writing is getting the best of left-brain little me.

I've written so many pitches (my comparative pitch, my teaser pitch...I've tried them all) only to find out from the last agent website I visited, that they dislike this approach all together and prefer simply a one page synopsis (which of course, is anything but simple!)

I guess what has me frozen with fear is the thought that this is it...this is the make or break chance for my manuscript to come to life for someone else. My chance to get it noticed. Yikes. The pressure.

So, are there any tricks of the trade lurking out there that you'd like to share? Any nuggets of wisdom? Any paragons of pitches to inspire those of us still in the query quagmire?