Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rewrites…A Blessing or a Bane?

How many drafts do you typically create for your manuscripts? Are you a revision hound or do you prefer the inspiration of that first draft? How do you know when you’ve gotten it just right?

I’ve received some great reviews from readers and critique partners for my book The Long Defeat, but I’ve also gotten some really good feedback I want to incorporate into my story. So, I’m back at it again, doing substantial rewrites in order to make my manuscript even sharper. Once upon a time I might have frowned at so many revisions, but now I engage in my rewrites with enthusiasm, knowing that each time I re-craft my novel it makes my story that much better.

Revisions are certainly necessary, but how do you go about them? Do you completely rewrite a section or make more moderate edits throughout? In short, are rewrites a blessing or a chore for you?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mardi Gras, Lent, and a 40 Day Challenge

Did you party it up on Fat Tuesday? Maybe some of you celebrate Lent afterward or not? Where am I going with all of this?

I’ve decided to turn the next 40 days into my own personal quest to write more fiction every single day. I already write a lot, but I usually take a day or two off from it each week. Now, for the next 40 days and nights I’ve challenged myself to write a minimum of 1,000 to 2,000 words a day, each day, and every day. 

This probably doesn’t sound too crazy to some of you, but I prefer to grow my writing career in baby steps. So how do you challenge yourself to write during the week? Do you have a set word count or goal in mind when you sit down and write?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

San Francisco Writer’s Conference Weekend

Where else can you connect with hundreds of fellow writers and dozens of agents/editors all over the course of a three-day weekend? Do you crave face-time with published authors and professional literary consultants? Or maybe you just like to learn more and meet new people in an effort to broaden your horizons?

If so, then the annual San Francisco Writer’s Conference is for you. This weekend was my second time attending this big west coast event, and this get together was even better than the first. My favorite segments included meeting with editors, speaking to agents, listening to some great seminars, and, of course, mixing with fellow writers. I currently have half a dozen agents who have requested either full versions or partials of my historical novel, The Long Defeat, and I’m currently shopping around for a professional editor to help sharpen up my manuscript.  

To learn more about my novel, just checkout my previous post here. I’m curious about other writer’s conferences some of you may have attended. What types of conferences and writer events have you benefited from in the past?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

San Francisco Writer’s Conference This Weekend

I’m attending the annual San Francisco Writer’s Conference this weekend at the Mark Hopkins Hotel! I haven’t been for two years and am looking forward to meeting fellow writers, editors, and agents face to face.

I start bright and early tomorrow, and it’s a pretty whirlwind affair for three days, so I probably won’t be blogging again until early next week to fill you in on all the details. I’m looking forward to listening to some great authors in my genre and others, as well as getting to sit down with agents and pitch them my story The Long Defeat. Below is a brief intro to my historical civil war novel.

Who knows, maybe I’ll see some of you at the conference!

Brief Synopsis of The Long Defeat

Will and Nate think that the American Civil War will end in a month, but neither realize that they will both have to try and kill each other before it is over. Will defends runaway slaves in a Massachusetts court before he enlists to fight for the North, while Nate leaves his family’s wealthy Louisiana plantation to defend the honor of the South. These two strangers meet under a flag of truce in Virginia only to later fight one another on several battlefields. Both men get more than they bargain for when two brash young women, a Boston blue blood named Emma and a New Orleans courtesan called Marie, volunteer as nurses for the North and South. Serving alongside the men at the front, Emma falls for Will who suffers from a troubled marriage, whereas Marie courts Nate despite his engagement to a Southern heiress. As the four-year struggle unfolds both Will and Nate must ultimately decide how different the enemy across the lines really is from themselves, and whether the women they meet at the front can ever be a part of their lives back home. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day! I confess that I’m still somewhat weary of this overly commercialized holiday. Nonetheless, I have to admit that lots of good love poetry and stories of longing have resulted in great writers from Shakespeare to Neruda.

An entire era of authors styled themselves Romantics (although they could get pretty dark), and every culture across the globe has love stories at the heart of their myths and legends. There are many different kinds of love, from Eros to Agape, to that aisle of “romance” novels in the bookstore. Love stories can be mushy or deep or just sensual, sometimes a little of each.

So what are some of your favorite poems and stories of love themes? Maybe you’ve written something yourself that you’ll read to your sweetheart tonight? After all, what’s a good story without love?  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing About Characters That Speak Different Languages

Ever have a character in your story who doesn’t speak the language in which you are writing? Perhaps you only have one or two characters that speak a different language or maybe your entire cast of characters speak in a different tongue that the one in which you are writing? So how’s the best way to go about incorporating authenticity in your narrative while still maintaining the linguistic flavor of the character(s) you’re trying to portray?

I maybe be raised American, but I love to write stories about people all around the world. Nonetheless, whether I’m writing about the French, Italians, or Chinese my narrative will of course be in English. I often find myself doing a balancing act of incorporating borrowed words from a given language while still trying to make my character easily understood in the English language in which I write.

I’m curious whether any of your write similar stories and how you cope with characters who maybe not be speaking or thinking in English even if that’s the language in which the story is written. How do you find a proper balance between authenticity and clarity? What subtle details do you include to give the character the “feeling” of one linguistic identity while still making it understandable in English?  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Critique Partners…How it Improves Your Own Writing and Karma

Ever get one of those friendly invitations from a fellow author to swap stories and critique each other’s work? Perhaps you’ve declined due to being too busy or just plain wondering what good your own advice would do anyone? Well, today I’d like to encourage you to ignore all those doubts and say “yes” to critiquing your fellow author’s work.

I’ve been swapping stories recently with several great bloggers/writers and have enjoyed reading everything from novels to short-stories from their works-in-progress. Not only by critiquing each other’s work can you help your fellow authors, you’ll also improve your own writing in the process. I’ve found that some of the very same suggestions I offered to other writers turned out to be the very same alterations I required in my own manuscript or short-story.

So, I know this is the equivalent of jumping into a pile of dry leaves with a wet sucker, but who else wants to swap stories? Interested in getting some much needed feedback on your current work in progress? Or maybe I’ve read your work before and you’ve got a rewrite for me to see? Let the good karma begin.  


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Insecure Writer’s Day…Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day! Remember that Bill Murray movie entitled Groundhog Day where he lives the same day over and over again? Well, for today’s Insecure Writer’s post I have to admit that my submission process to agents feels somewhat like a continual Groundhog Day.

I’m still waiting on the same three agents who have had partials or full versions of my manuscript, The Long Defeat, since last fall. I’ve tried waiting and I’ve tried pinging them, but either way the response is always the same…they need more time. In the meanwhile, I’ve been hesitant to send out more queries since I already have three interested agents (one of whom asked for an exclusive which I could not grant).

I’m sure several of you have been in the same conundrum before, so I’m curious what did you do? What’s the longest you’ve waited for a response from an interested agent? How do you balance patience with being proactive?