Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The first signs of spring are here:

peepers singing at dusk and dawn
earthworms on the sidewalk
sun higher in the sky
warmth in the sun, chill in the shade
annoyed skunks letting the world know they are waking up
writers re-emerging from their dark caves of creativity

I set out to finish editing my manuscript, edits based on comments from my critique groups and from agents who were kind enough to tell me what was wrong with the opening movement while rejecting the book.

I hit the goal on Sunday. One final read for the remaining typos and then it's off to agents for their reaction.

I'm glad spring is here. I even missed the stinky skunks. Most of all, I am so glad my saint of a husband lived with the slug all winter while I muttered incantations over words, sentences, phrases and chapters. Thank you, Terry, for being here and being my sounding board. You are truly a saint.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A literary week and then some

Last week was dominated -- happily (yes, I know it's a adverb!) -- by things literary.

The first event of the week was a fantastic presentation by Sharyn McCrumb and Adam Edwards, authors of Faster Pastor, Sharyn's third NASCAR book and the first one written with a co-author. I had the pleasure and honor of reading an advanced reader copy of the book and reviewed it for Valley Business Front earlier this year. If you want to laugh out loud, this is a good book to read.

Sharyn and Adam were very generous with their time, talking to a crowd of around 75 who braved sloppy, snowy roads, answering questions and signing books. The event was a fund-raiser for the Westlake Library, the newest community center at Smith Mountain Lake.

The second event was private. A few friends gathered over lunch to talk about marketing for writers, both self-published and commercially published. We have been working on a marketing plan for new writers. We challenged each other, asked questions, brought in outside ideas, and I captured everything in an organic document. We want to test this with some of our friends who have books in print. We also think this would be a good resource for writers who have yet to publish, but who are getting close. We all determined it was never too early to think about how to promote your works. We also decided that it was hard work, but worth the effort in the end.

And finally, the weekend concluded with me finishing My Name Is Red, by Orhan Pamuk. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006. This literary novel is worth the investment in time. It is beautiful. I wish I could read the original Turkish, but if the English translation is faithful, I don't need to. The novel breaks all the "rules" for what agents say they want. It has so many different narrators that you have to refer to the bottom of the page to see who is speaking. The narrators do not have different voices. There are descriptive passages, adverbs, and other contemporary taboos. Perhaps because it is historical fiction, set in sixteenth-century Istanbul, that Pamuk broke all the rules and still found an agent. I'm glad he did.

And now back to removing words ending in "ly" from my manuscript. (This caused no small amount of concern when I searched for "ly" and found over 1,000 of the bad critters. Then I remembered that a main character is "Emily." Solved that problem. For now, she is "Emilie." Can always change it back. . . .)

Have a productive week and to all my writer friends, keep cranking out pages.

Monday, March 1, 2010

February Wrap Up

Now that it is March 1st, I can safely say farewell to the Winter Olympics. Not that I watched all that much of the broadcasts. Nor did I care about which country won the most medals. I don't get curling and don't want to. I understand the origins of the biathalon, but after five minutes it was like watching paint peel. And what's with the twizzle? I hope I forget what it is in four years.

I did go to a "meet the authors" event at a local eatery on Saturday. I wanted to see how the venue works (it doesn't; it's right next to the kitchen). I wanted to see if the room was too small for a crowd (it was way too small). I wanted to see who turned out to talk with and listen to three local writers: Sally Roseveare, Karen Wrigley, and Becky Mushko. I learned that when the audience is 80% friends and family, you don't sell many books. Such events, while nice and provide a bit of local publicity, will not make or break anyone's writing success. Back to the drawing board to study how to expand beyond local venues and all the familiar faces.

And last, but not least, I am putting the finishing polish on my latest edit of what I call Mad Max 1. After receiving three rejections to query letters last year, in which three different agents made the same comments, I took their feedback to heart and rewrote about 70% of the opening section. Now with loose ends nearly knotted, I should be ready to resubmit and see what happens.

At any rate, one of my resolutions was to make Mad Max 1 the best book I can. A second resolution was to submit it to agents and see what happens. One nearly complete, one ready to begin.