Book Revisions: What I’m Working On

Revisions Forever

It’s a not-so-sunny day here in Oregon. Big surprise, right? But actually the weather has been beautiful lately and I’m having sun withdrawals. Am I really talking about the weather right now??

I didn’t come here to blog about the weather, I actually came here to blog about… REVISIONS. Manuscript revisions are something I love and hate at the same time.

I hate them because:

  1. They take forever. I feel like the more I revise the more I FIND to revise until I feel like I’m living in an endless cycle of revisions.
  2. They’re not always easy. Actually, when are they ever easy? When revisions are going well I fly through the pages and solutions to problems just pop into existence in my head. But when they’re not going well its painful. I sit and stare at my screen and bite my fingernails down to the quick. Not having solutions to revision problems is one of the most frustrating things for me. I think the best way to deal with it is just to work on something you have a solution for. Or better, take a break for awhile. The solution will probably pop into your head just as you’re about to fall asleep or at some other inopportune time.
  3. I also hate revisions because they mean my manuscript still isn’t where I want it to be. There are days when I just want to be done revising. I want to have a perfectly polished manuscript in front of me. With a bow on it. Ready for publication. But that’s not reality (obviously). Revision is WORK. But I need to put in that work to make my manuscript better. To get it closer to that polished thing wrapped in a bow.

Which brings me to the reasons I love revisions. which won’t be a list this time because I’m the one running this blog and I get to decide.I love revisions because each thing that changes makes the manuscript better. Getting revision notes back and hearing feedback can be scary and frustrating. It can sap your strength and your will to go on. Whoah. We’re getting a little dramatic again. But it really can be hard. Looking at a list of problems that don’t have solutions yet isn’t fun. If I get overwhelmed I give myself a break and go back to it later. Everything will eventually fall into place and start flowing again. And even though revisions are tedious they allow me to continue building ideas and building the world of the manuscript. They force me to get creative and push deeper into the characters and the world they live in.

What I’m working on Now:

  1. World building. Hardcore world building. My wonderful beta reader/editor/friend Meredith¬†helped me realize that much of my world consists of hallways and doorways at the moment, which is sort of a problem. For a world to feel believable a reader needs to be totally immersed in it. This isn’t just descriptions of what the buildings and landscape look like. Nope. It’s also little things that make a world complex. The history of the world, how the government works, ect. This shouldn’t just be dumped into a scene, but spread out over the course of the story. I’ve written several different drafts of my manuscript, one from a different characters perspective, so some of the details of the world didn’t transfer from that first draft or are just living in my head. Either way, they’re not coming through in my current manuscript and they need to be. World building is an immense task, but it’s also super fun and rewarding. I’ve been spending hours looking up inspirational pictures and thinking about interesting details about the world and how to give the reader those details. It takes awhile, but when I’m done the story will be much richer and more believable because of it.
  2. Character Development. Another super important but also super immense and time consuming task. I love all of my characters, but right now some of them aren’t shining as much as they could. Some of them feel a bit flat when they could be round! Flat=One-dimensional. Real people aren’t flat. Some of the revision comments made me realize that some of the characters surrounding my MC could push on her more and force her to further explore some of her beliefs. Also characters that have their own stories and character arc are way more interesting to read about, even if they’re villains. Especially if they’re villains. So some of my characters are getting a little more attention in this revision.
  3. Little issues of who should know what, where scenes are taking place, making sure the main character’s development is believable and true to her personality and her world, and making sure readers understand what certain futuristic gadgets look like/how they work. We also discussed if I want the world to be an alternate/parallel reality with much of the same technology we have today or something that’s supposed to be a post apocalyptic/futuristic version of our world. I’ve always thought of it as an alternate reality to our own rather than a post-apocalyptic future. Their technology isn’t anything we don’t have (just maybe not the average consumer).

I’ve been working on revisions every morning and right now I’m about halfway through. I actually wrote a completely new scene today, which is always exciting. I’ve just been tinkering with scenes I already had and adding in little snippets so writing a full new scene was great. When I get all the way through this round of revisions I’m just going to have to turn right around and start at the beginning again to make sure all of my world building solutions and character development is strong from the very beginning. I was hoping it would take a week of minor tweaking and I would be done, but unfortunately that’s not the case. It’s probably going to take a couple more weeks if I go at the same pace. But when I’m done with these revisions it’s going to be much stronger and more exciting. And then it’s going to go back to my wonderful beta reader/editor/friend Meredith for a second look before anything else happens. It will probably still need a little bit of tweaking, but hopefully a little less.

I am so so lucky to have people willing to help me make my manuscript the best it can be. Thank you to everyone who has helped me and supported me and asked how it’s going. I appreciate all of you ūüôā

Happy Thursday!

A Few of My Strange Life Goals

Here is a short list of somewhat strange and nonsensical things that I REALLY want in my life. In no particular order.

  • A cat island. Puppies are invited too, but only if they play nicely. Seriously, I want to live on an island designed entirely for cats. There would be sunny lounging spots, comfy blankets, cat trees (and real trees), catnip plants, and plenty of humans to love them all. Ok, this is mostly a joke. I don’t know if I would really like living on an island full of cats. But I am an animal lover and I would love to be able to give a home to every cat and dog that needs one. Also, there is already a real cat island in Japan. Seriously.

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  • Flowing pink mermaid hair. I have always wanted to grow my hair as long as possible and dye it pink. Maybe someday when I’m less concerned about the effects of bleach on my hair and have a different job I will finally get to dye it PINK! Like this picture.

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  • An entire room filled with books. Possibly my bedroom. Or a sunroom/library. Anywhere that I can curl up in a comfy chair with an unlimited supply of books.

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A few things on my more realistic life goals list include finding a literary agent (!), becoming a published author, traveling the world, making many wonderful new friends and getting together with old ones as often as possible, and possibly overcoming some of my fears (fear of the dark, fear of heights, ect.).

Does anyone else have any strange life goals?

So You Wrote a Book

Hello internet world, it’s been awhile.

What’s happened since my last post? Not a lot. I didn’t win the lottery.

I did get a part-time job as a receptionist in an office building working with some lovely (and interesting) people. I start work at 12:30 which is perfect for me. 1. Because I like to sleep in, or at least have the option to. And 2. Because it gives me time to write and revise in the mornings before work!

I’ve been driving to a coffee shop a few hours before work and working on manuscript revisions (which are going really well and making me even more excited to start querying). I’ve learned that I really enjoy doing my manuscript work in coffee shops. I’ve been sitting in the bar stool section of this particular Starbucks every morning because it’s been so busy and every morning I’ve formed some sort of camaraderie/bond with the other bar stool sitters. We all have our laptops and notebooks and tablets propped up in front of us and our elbows tucked in to keep from hitting each other and we all seem to be in the same boat. This morning my fellow bar stool sitters and I engaged in a brief and friendly conversation about the odd and slightly obnoxious music that was playing. We all watched each others things in turn and apologized if we were taking up too much space. When I eventually made to leave I said goodbye to the gentleman next to me and told him that I was going to work but that I felt like the work I was doing while at Starbucks was my real job. He made a joke that with all the typing I was doing I could be writing a novel. Why yes, nice gentleman at Starbucks, I AM writing a novel. I wrote a novel. I’m almost done revising a novel. The look he gave me when I told him that was slightly awed. Possibly because I look too young to have written a full novel. Possibly because he really was just joking. He didn’t think the random 22 year old girl next to him had actually written a novel.

Here’s something about being a writer (or at least being me). We do most of our work alone. I don’t hang out with other people who have written or who are writing books. I wish I did, but I don’t. So instead I read writers blogs and interviews and twitter feeds. I read their success stories and failures and I read how many people are writing. To me it feels like everyone. Everyone is writing a book. Everyone has written a book and isn’t able to find an agent or publisher ect. OR they’ve written a book and are being offered multi-million dollar books deal. Either way, EVERYONE is writing a book. so in my private internet world having written a book isn’t impressive. Like at all. In my internet world I’m pretend friends with bestselling authors but I’m not even querying agents yet. I just wrote a book. But that’s the EASY part. At least in this world. So I always feel a little awkward when I tell people I’ve written a book or talk with family and friends about it. But the look the gentleman from Starbucks gave me this morning was beyond impressed. As I waved and walked away I could feel his eyes following me with interest (sounds creepy when I say it like that, or like it’s the start of a romance novel…) and I realized for the first time that not everyone lives in my world. To most people writing a book IS a big deal. And maybe I should be a bit more gracious when people congratulate me. Because even if I can’t find an agent or get it published I know that I wrote a book and I can do it again. And not everyone can do that.

So, if you’ve ever said something to me along the lines of it’s cool/impressive/awesome that you wrote a book I’m very sorry if I responded awkwardly. I feel like I don’t have the right to talk about it or be proud of it until I’m a published author actually making money (wait, does that happen?). I’m not promising I’ll stop being awkward about it, but I will start trying to be proud of my accomplishments, and more gracious when people compliment me on writing a book.

I’m pretty sure that post strayed away from what I originally meant to write about but now I can’t remember what I was going to write in the first place. Maybe next post…

Happy Thursday!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

I know I’m a little late to the game as it’s already the 3rd but better late than never, right?

My New Years resolutions/goals include finishing all revisions on my manuscript and querying agents, working on other writing projects at least once a week, staying healthy by getting exercise that elevates my heart rate at least three days a week, reading books outside of my usual genre (young adult fiction), and getting a job that excites and inspires me.

I hope the New Year brings wonderful things for everyone! I am hoping to win the lottery in the New Year and become fabulously rich (I can dream, right?). Which actually leads me to a funny/educational story for people like me who aren’t very experienced with lottery ticket buying.

I somewhat accidentally spent fifteen dollars on a megamillions ticket that goes through the end of January. I wanted to buy a couple scratch-its for my family and friends for Christmas. You know, five dollars max. Fun cheap scratch-its. What I didn’t know was that the amount of money you put into the machine is the amount you have to spend. I wanted to spend five dollars. But alas, I only had a twenty, so that’s what I put into the machine. When I was finished purchasing the scratch-offs I wanted I started searching for the button that would eject the rest of my money. This button doesn’t exist. The kindly and experienced lottery player in line¬†behind me informed me that my money was gone. I had to now purchase fifteen more dollars of lottery tickets or leave the money in the machine for the next person. I think she was hoping I would choose the second option. But if I’m going to lose fifteen dollars I’m at least going to give myself a shot at making that money back by buying lottery tickets, sorry nice lady behind me. So I started pushing buttons in a rather flustered way and the woman kept offering suggestions. Finally I spent a couple more dollars on scratch-its and the rest on the megamillions ticket. I chose quick pick and printed my tickets out and the woman behind me said (only slightly condescendingly): so you’re not going to do this again, are you. It was very grandmother-y and reproving. I smiled and nodded sheepishly and we parted ways. So that’s the story of how I have one set of megamillions numbers that I have to check at every drawing from now until January 27th. These numbers aren’t the greatest either. Your numbers can be from anywhere between 1 and 80. My lowest number is unfortunately in the 50’s. If you look up winning megamillions numbers you’ll notice that they rarely start that high. But hey, maybe I’ll win anyway. It doesn’t matter that I have literally never won anything in my life, right? Either way, I learned my lesson (as the woman in line behind me was quick to point out).

So, PSA (Public Service Announcement for those of you that aren’t up on the lingo): if you’re buying lottery tickets, only insert the amount of money into the machine THAT YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO SPEND.

I didn’t plan on spending fifteen dollars on a megamillions ticket.

Hopefully this will be the funny story I tell when the reporters are interviewing me on my big lottery win. Wish me luck.

Happy Saturday!

Any Questions for the Plant Girl?

Hey! For anyone out there that doesn’t know me in a real-life kind of way, I was raised at a (plant) nursery called Garland Nursery. Garland Nursery is a family owned business named after my Great Great (I’m pretty sure it’s two greats) Grandmother Garland and growing up there was pretty wonderful (except the parts that I complain about in the post… the toiling away in planting beds and watering plants all summer) but overall pretty wonderful. My aunt Brenda asked me to write a guest post for the Nursery’s blog, A View From the Barn¬†and I happily agreed. You can find my post here.

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I will continue to guest post for the Nursery sporadically and I would love some ideas for what readers would like to hear about. I’m not a plant expert (I garden on a very small scale and at one point I told my father that I love a well maintained yard, I would just like to pay someone to maintain it for me) but I did spend eighteen or so years of my life running around a nursery and helping my landscape architect father. Any questions or ideas for a post that would interest you?

Also, here is Garland Nursery’s Website and Facebook. The Nursery is amazing and I’m pretty proud to be a part of it.

Happy Thursday!

The Hardest Part of Writing a Book: The Waiting

Disclaimer: This may or may not be the hardest part for everyone.

Second disclaimer: I’m so grateful for everyone that agreed to be a beta reader for me and I promise I’m not complaining about having to wait for you to read it. Take your time. Waiting builds character (and characters *wink*).

I’m currently at a point in my writing journey where there happens to be a lot of waiting.

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Before I gave my manuscript to Beta readers there was a rush of editing and excitement and hope. As soon as the manuscript was actually in the hands of those Beta’s the waiting began and the hope started to die. That’s a little depressing, sorry. The hope didn’t die. It just started to have a panic attack. And then the what if’s took over. What if they don’t like it? What if it’s terrible? What if I get it back from them and revise it again and again and it still isn’t perfect.

This is what happens when I have to wait. I start to doubt myself and my writing. But I have to get used to it and get over it somehow, because the road to getting a book published is filled with periods of waiting. And I think it’s something that makes every writer crazy. We wait for beta’s, then sometimes we wait for beta’s again after we’ve revised. Then we wait for agents to read our query letters, sometimes we wait for months. And if they read our query letters and ask for more pages, then we have to wait for them to read all those pages. And during all this waiting we’re going a little crazy inside. So how do we avoid this? There’s no way to get around the waiting, that’s inevitable. BUT literary agents and those in the publishing world (and other writers who know all about the waiting craziness) have some advice for the waiters. KEEP WORKING ON SOMETHING. ¬†Work on something else. Something new. Something old. Just keep the creativity flowing.

As I’ve been editing and waiting for Beta reader’s, this advice has been floating around my head like a fruit fly you can’t seem to get rid of. You’re supposed to be working on something else, the little voice in my head says. Except not really because…

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Writers write. that’s like the first rule of writer-ism. But I was so caught up in the stress and pressure of revisions that I couldn’t start anything new. I was so nervous about my manuscript and what everyone would think of it and if finding an agent and getting published could be a reality that it was impossible to let everything go and just write. Eventually (a week ago) I had to remind myself that this is my first book. And that I WROTE A BOOK. Which means I can do it again. And I can do it better next time because I worked out a lot of kinks in my first manuscript. I learned what works for me and what doesn’t. The reality is that not every book gets published, most don’t. Even after I revise this book until I can’t revise it any more it might not work. It might not be a book anyone wants to publish. And that’s really scary because I put so much time into writing it. But it’s true. And I finally realized that it’s OK. I will keep editing it. And eventually (hopefully) I will query agents about it. But for now I am taking the wonderful advice of writing and publishing pros and I’m working on something else. And for the first time in a month or so I feel like myself again! I only have a few thousand words but the idea for this new project has been nagging at me for awhile now and I’m so glad that it’s finally coming together on the page. As soon as I started typing it just started flowing and now I can’t stop thinking about it.

So the moral of the story is: waiting isn’t always such a bad thing. By the time that I’ve finished revising my first book and have spent a few months querying agents (whether I find anyone that’s interested or not) I just might have a new book to present. For now though I’m not getting my hopes up and I’m just letting myself write freely without any pressure.

So. The hardest part of writing a book might be the waiting. But if you keep your creative juices flowing it doesn’t have to be. Is that cheesy? Maybe. But it’s true. Working on something else really will keep you from going crazy while you’re waiting. And if whatever you’re waiting on doesn’t end up working out then at least you have another project in the works. And for writers, that’s everything.

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Good luck everyone, and happy waiting!

Navigating the Comment Section (For Authors)

Subtitle: The comment section is generally a swirling vortex of doom. But not always? 

As a writer I’ve read countless articles on how important it is to build a platform and make strong connections online. Here’s an example from Writer’s Digest:¬†http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/get-published-sell-my-work/how-to-build-your-author-platform

Someday I would love writing to be my “real job” so I take these articles very seriously. I have a blog. I have twitter. I have Instagram. I have LinkedIn. But sometimes I struggle with how to use these tools effectively. It seems like navigating all of these different social media platforms is a full time job. Also, thinking about delving into the murky world of the comment section terrifies me. Has anyone else ever read a perfectly good article or watched an amusing youtube video then suddenly found themselves trapped in the swirling vortex of doom that is the comment section? The level of absurdity, hatred, and incompetent argument found in the comment section leads me to avoid it like the plague (because if I don’t and I get sucked in to the swirling vortex I stay there for hours and get more and more heated. Also I probably lose countless amounts of brain cells). Needless to say, I am wary of making comments on anything.

According to my research (very formal scientific research might I add) there are two types of comments. Ok this is a lie, but for the purposes of my argument there are two relevant types of comments.

1. The hateful/absurd/ argumentative drivel generally found in Youtube comment sections and on any of the articles/videos ect found on Facebook. I’m not sure who these commenters are or why they’re commenting in the first place. Maybe they like getting into comment wars? Or they have nothing better to do? Maybe they really just like to share their highly unpopular opinion in very public places? Whatever the reason, these types of comments are occasionally amusing and generally ignored by intelligent human beings. I am ALWAYS wary to comment in these areas (youtube videos, informative or humorous articles) for fear of being seen as this type of commenter.

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2. The second type of comment: slightly more well meaning commenters that are trying to get something out of their comment. For this post I’m referring specifically to people who make comments on the blogs and social media platforms of literary agents, published authors, publishers ect. These comments say things like: please read my amazing novel. Or, more innocently: I think you would love my new novel! Not all of these comments are harmful. Many of these commenters are doing what I want to do, make connections with people in the writing/editing/publishing world. But not all of these comments hit the mark. Some of them are so obviously just commenting because they want something from whomever’s page they’re commenting on. I also really don’t want to be this type of commenter.

Ok I didn’t mention it earlier but there is a third type of commenter. This is the perfect commenter who is honestly interested and moved by whatever is is they’re commenting on and have interesting things to say about it. This is the type of commenter I would like to be. I want to make genuine connections with other writers and other people that love books. Be they literary agents, editors, or publishers. Sometimes this includes commenting on those people blog posts or social media platforms. BUT I’m so scared of being one of the first two types of commenters that I hesitate to comment at all. I don’t want to be seem as someone that is only commenting because I want something from the person.

So how do you engage with people and make intelligent comments without being annoying or presumptuous? How do you let people know: I’m really just interested in connecting with you because we share the same interests. I read stories about people who have wonderful and close-knit groups of internet friends. I also know that there is a huge writer community out there looking to make connections just like I am. Because lets face it, writing can be lonely. I want to make those connections AND build a writer platform but I don’t want people to think I’m only commenting or reaching out BECAUSE I want to build my author platform and because some Writer’s Digest article told me to. Does anyone have any advice for new authors trying to join the community?

Also, happy Friday!

Furthermore, I discovered this wonderful Twitter feed all about avoiding the comment section. Check it out @AvoidComments