Querying and editing again – oh my!

It's been almost two months since I declared my novel finished, and I still haven't sent out one query letter. That is not to say I haven't been working up to it, but it's been a long process. I've been googling small presses - ones that specialize in feminist books, and so far I found only one that might work. I've also been studying how to write a query letter. To that end I found a short book called, Literary Agent Secrets Revealed: Create the Perfect, Unrejectable Query Letter, and it has been quite helpful. It's main advice is that the letter should have two main sections - a two-paragraph novel synopsis and an author biography. And no matter what, the letter should be no longer than one page. Sounds simple, right? Not so simple I found out. Here's a few other hints: In the synopsis, introduce your main characters, lay out the main plot points , and make your writing exciting and engaging Create a one-paragraph author biography that only contains relevant in … [Read more...]

Revising and editing are like sculpting

Here's a piece of advice from Samuél L. Barrantes in his article, 7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Samuél L. Barrantes, for Chuck Sambuchino's website: Guide to Literary Agents. It came at exactly the right time. I am in the very nitty-gritty editing and rewriting phase of my revision process. Barrantes says:  Writing = Re-Writing. I used to have a romantic notion of writing as a frenzy of creativity, where the words poured out of me, the Muses singing by my side. But the truth is writing is as much about editing and re-writing as it is about creation. You really have to love what you're working on to stick with it. I think of the first draft as the sculptor's block of cold stone there is something there, buried within, but the sculptor spends years chiseling away.  For example, I cut approximately 35,000 words between the first and final drafts of Slim and The Beast, with countless rewording and revising throughout. My goal is to cut 9,000 words from my manuscript that … [Read more...]

Thoughts about novel beginnings

Chuck Sambuchino is always a wealth of information about writing, about publishing, about platforms, about finding an agent. In a guest column on the Writer Unboxed website today, he quotes many agents' thoughts about: What Not To Do When Beginning Your Novel I'll just share a few quotes that resonated with me. Please go to Writer Unboxed to see the full list. I just signed up to get it regularly. You may want to as well. Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead! - Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land. - Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary I know this may sound obvious, but too much ˜telling' vs. ˜showing' in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should pre … [Read more...]

My memoir revision process

Since I've been on the topic of revision, I thought I'd share the revision process I followed while getting my memoir ready for publication. I eagerly took on the task of editing and revising my memoir manuscript. I had spent many years editing and rewriting proposals to the U.S. Government, and I used much of this experience to revise my book. One of the first lessons I learned on that job was to plan before doing, and that was the first thing I did before embarking on my rounds of revisions. Here's my process. 1. Create a revision plan. I created a revision plan based on my publisher's and first reader's notes. Once I buy-in from my publisher to this plan, I was ready to get to work. 2. Don't edit as you write. Write, wait a while, then edit: Leave your work alone for as long a time as you can before sitting down to edit it. While I spent over two years querying agents and small presses, my manuscript laid dormant. So when I finally got my book contract, I read it front to … [Read more...]