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 … [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 … [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 … [Read more...]