Editing is a Labor… of Love

Editing_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tweeted the picture above last week, and a ton of people liked it, and I even had a few questions about it, so I thought I would give a description here of what the flags mean.

I’m hot and heavy in the middle of editing this novel, and I’ve developed a new system using colored flags.

I write with a combination of a “pantser” and a plotter method. I know where I’m going, but my characters tell me how to get there. There are often changes along the way that I have to track backwards. As I write the first draft, I keep a notebook listing the changes that need to happen, or how I think things should change as I go forward. I don’t always make the changes right away, but as I do, I mark through them. (physically marking them off gives me a sense of accomplishment)

Once of the things that i have noticed is that if I edit on screen, particularly toward the end of the editing process, there is no way to check whether the changes were made correctly. This draft is 320 pages 1.5 -spaced, right now coming in at 111k words. It is the longest I have done by far. There is no way that I could re-read the whole thing constantly. It would take forever.

I print it out at 1.5 line spacing. (2 is just too much for me and way too long) I handwrite all of the changes that I make, and I flag the page. Yellow is a minor change (maybe a comma was dropped, or a word is missing, not more than one or two on the page. I ran out of yellow so I also used green for that.

Red is a major change/rewrite. A red flag means that I either added additional text (handwritten behind the typed page) or I deleted massive text, or reworked sentences to the point that the page needs serious work. At this stage, red happens when I have to backtrack and make the changes consistent (as noticed above) or I feel like the scene needs more development. One improvement to my writing in the past three years that I have noticed is that my scenes are longer and fuller.

Blue means it’s something that needs more thought. For example, did a character’s dad die of a heart attack or cancer? I was toying with both and wasn’t sure which I wanted. So I flagged it with blue to come back to it. It was in the past, so just briefly referenced, but it became an issue as to whether it was a quick sudden death or drawn-out illness. I had to make sure and change it everywhere. I also use blue when my editor makes suggestions and I either haven’t decided whether to make her change, or her change would take to long to address at that moment.

I reuse all the flags as I pull them off. After I make all the changes, I reprint it and go back and re-read everything that I changed and compare it to the draft that I marked up. Often a red flag goes to yellow for the first cut because I rarely get edits right the first time. (For example, I may change a word and then when I reprint it, notice that I used the exact same phrase or word a little higher on the page, which means I have to change something.)

This is the first book that I have been so diligent about edits, and I have a greater confidence that i won’t miss something crucial this time. I still may—and my husband is my final proof-reader when he has the time–but with the flags at least I know what I have ahead. When I look at the front part of the printout and see very few red flags, and just a smattering of yellow, then I feel like that’s progress. That’s progress. There is actually something soothing about handwriting additions. It helps keep me in the zone.

When I do spellcheck/grammar check, I do it with track changes in Word and then I print out the file with the track changes. That part of it is still a little bit cumbersome, but I still try to have something that I can check it against.

Editing is exhausting, but it’s fulfilling because I can see it come alive and how all of the pieces fit together. I add pieces all along the way to flesh out characters better and issues.
With my next book I will try fewer iterations, which means I need to spend more time adding sensory and character detail into the first draft. That’s usually something I focus on in the second draft.

Since I took this picture, I decided to put all the yellow flags at the top of the page on the right, all the blue in the middle, and all the red at the bottom. It’s easier to see where I am that way. Now if I only had time to finish the edits. My deadline is calling.

Do you have a particular quirk about how you edit your novel once you have a first draft? I have had several writers tell me that they send their first or second draft to their editor and move on, and that idea gives me the shakes.

Producing an Audiobook

I recently decided to have my first book, No Strings Attached, recorded as an audiobook through ACX, a subsidiary of Amazon. There are several options when you are thinking about audiobooks: read and produce the book yourself, hire a narrator / producer at a flat rate, usually an hourly rate, or offer the book for a royalty share.

Doing the production myself was not an option. I don’t have a “radio voice”, and I don’t have recording equipment. My understanding is that ACX has high-quality standards, and I would want my audiobook to be of the highest quality. Clearly, doing it myself was not an option.

The first step of the project is to input information about your book into ACX. They pull in reviews and other data on sales ranking, etc. from Amazon. You tell them how many words the book is, and they estimate the recorded time. I was skeptical that they would be close, but they estimated my book at 8.2 hours, and the full recorded time was just under 8. So they were pretty close. Sometimes if your project catches Amazon’s eye, they will offer a stipend on top of the royalty share, which is what they did for my friend’s book.

I first listed the book over a year ago, but I had no auditions. Zero. I offered a royalty share only, and couldn’t get anyone to audition. Keep in mind that I was asking them to commit a minimum of 24 hours, including editing and everything else. ACX told me the listing had been dormant for too long and they made it inactive. So I decided to wait a while.

My friend was having success, so I talked to her about the fact that no one had auditioned. She suggested I contact her narrator and ask him what rate he would charge. With x being the hourly rate I thought I could afford for 8 finished hours, he offered 4x. I had email exchanges with him, but I couldn’t afford his rate. I said I would be in touch after Christmas.

Meanwhile, I was talking to another author that I met online who does audio narrations by the name of Brian Schell. We started discussions, and he also said he would do it for 4x per hour. I told him I couldn’t afford it right now, but would be happy to talk to him later. He said he was interested in the project and submitted an audition anyway. Within the same week, a female narrator submitted an audition for my book based on the offer of royalty share only. I couldn’t leave her hanging, so I had to make a decision.

Most auditions last about five minutes. I listened to her reading and it just didn’t do much for me. Her phrasing felt odd and I just couldn’t relax into the reading. There was a section where I could hear her fumbling with something, and that undercut her professionalism.

I listened to Brian’s reading, and I was hooked. My book is told from Fox and Laura’s point of view, and Fox’s narration has a certain sarcastic feel to it, a certain dry wit. He captured that immediately. He was also able to differentiate between multiple voices in the dialog sections. I felt like he brought my words to life.

We discussed it, and he agreed to take the risk. I offered x for the 8 hours plus royalty share to start immediately, and we reached an agreement. I couldn’t hold back my excitement. Brian was going to bring my words to life!No Strings Attached Audiobook 2400x2400

When I received notification that he had uploaded my finished audiobook, I couldn’t wait. I downloaded it and listened over a Friday and Saturday. It was like Fox talking in my ear. Brian also reminded me that I had to reformat my cover (it had to be square) and offered to do that for me.

I chose to listen to the words without matching it to the text unless it came across confusing or I had a question. There were only a few places where I submitted minor changes to him. Now the book is live, and ready for listeners.

That, in a nutshell, is how audiobooks are made. Are you a audiobook fan? Do you have an Audible subscription? Download the sample and give it a listen. Here is the link to Audible.com. If you like the sample, I would be honored if you choose it as your selection this month. listen. Or, if you’ve been thinking about starting an audiobook subscription but haven’t taken the plunge, you can start your subscription and receive my audiobook for free. You can find details here.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about producing an audiobook. Ask them in the comments.

Writer Wednesday – Meet Irene Vartanoff

It’s been a while, but today I’d like to welcome Irene Vartanoff to the Writer Wednesday feature on my blog. Take it away Irene!!

Captive of the Cattle Baron

Blurb:Captive of the Cattle Baron by Irene Vartanoff

He’d Abducted Her!

Abducted by rancher Baron Selkirk—okay, it was an accident, but now he won’t let her go—former TV child star turned horse whisperer Addie Jelleff enjoys a respite from the media circus that ruined her quiet retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but she’s due back to town to defend her actor pal at his trial very soon. Baron’s vast, isolated ranch is only one of his many attractions, but he’s awfully domineering and she can’t possibly give in to their growing attraction while she’s virtually his prisoner, can she?

Baron sees the situation differently. He wants to save Addie from he thinks is a sordid drug connection. Forced to drop his geology career and take over the family ranch, he’s frustrated by too many people saying no to him. Isn’t he in charge? Why is Addie so mysterious about her past and her commitments to another man? Why won’t she give in to Baron, when every time they touch, they catch fire?

It’s a battle of wills—with neither one backing down. Addie can tame the wildest stallion, but restraining her own growing attraction to the high-handed rancher and keeping him from breaking through her defenses requires all her strength—and some help from unexpected sources.

Now that you’ve heard what the book is about, let’s hear from Irene.

How did you get the idea for the beginning part of this novel?

Diana Palmer once did a story about a country guy who didn’t want to be involved with a glamour girl from the city. That rejection of the glamour life was key to my initial thinking about Captive of the Cattle Baron. I thought, “What if some glamorous woman hid out from the media in some rancher’s car? And then he got the wrong idea about what kind of person she was?”

That was the start, but then I had to build my heroine as someone who had glamour but did not want to lead the in-the-spotlight Hollywood life. She couldn’t have a believable happy ever after on a ranch if she had constant commitments elsewhere. That’s when I started thinking that my heroine could be famous but not want to be anywhere near the fast lane. From there, making Addie a former TV actor who had spent years while a child on a sitcom was the next logical step to keep her as normal a person as possible.

Tell us a little bit about the setting. How did you choose Wyoming?

I chose Wyoming as the setting because I went there once on a car trip with my mother and sister. My mother had driven the west with her dad when she was a mere kid and most of the roads were single-lane dirt—and mud. She thought nothing of piling us into her car decades later and taking off on modern paved interstates, although without motel reservations, cell phones, or solid plans. After visiting Yellowstone National Park, we came down from the Grand Tetons into Jackson Hole and it was just so beautiful there I’ve always wanted to go back. So far, I haven’t. I did read up on the state and talk to a geologist who knows the rock formations in the southern part. I believe my descriptions of Wyoming’s geography and plant life are accurate. As to the hotel and the mention of a casino in Jackson Hole, I made those up entirely. I made up the overly ambitious, glory-seeking district attorney, too.

What is your favorite thing about your female character?

What I like about Addie Jelleff is that although most people think of actors as volatile personalities, she is a very logical and sensible person. She spent her childhood doing a weekly television show and adhering to legal work rules and having to memorize her scripts, and do schoolwork, and so on. She still thinks the rest of the world is run logically, the way the TV show was. She can’t quite understand how illogical and irrational real people can be in the grip of emotion. Including herself.

What is your favorite thing about your male character?

My favorite thing about Baron Selkirk is that he’s got the instincts of a hero. He wants to save Addie. He’s not the alpha pig his emotions keep pushing him to be, although he does make mistakes. He thinks he has to be the big tough boss, and he feels a huge sense of responsibility to do right by running the family ranch, but it’s a massive burden on his shoulders, a burden he’s carrying alone. His parents have checked out. His brother has his own problems, and his sister is acting up. No wonder he’s trying to control his world and everyone in it. Especially Addie, to whom he’s tremendously attracted and whom he desperately wants to save from what he believes is a sordid life situation. Unlike a genuinely abusive man, Baron’s motives are pure. Sometimes his actions are over the line, though. After all, abducting someone is a crime!

Baron acts very domineering with Addie, but she gives as good as she gets. She is never intimidated by him. In more than one scene, she’s the one who starts the fight. She also has a lot more control over her sexuality than he has over his. Well, he’s a guy. What do you expect?

Are other books planned in this series?

As I was writing this story and fleshing out the circumstances that make Baron behave as he does, I realized that by giving him a wounded warrior brother and a nearly off-the-rails sister, I was opening the door to sequels. Who wouldn’t want to know if J.D. will ever get out of the V.A. hospital and attempt to resume a normal life? How can an outdoors type cope with serious permanent injury and still lead that kind of existence? Did being in war change him drastically? What about Paula’s so far hopeless love for him? She’s rich, but mere money can’t solve his problems. And poor Tess, who thinks she wants to be a movie star. How will she ever find fulfillment? This family has big problems to solve, and it won’t be easy. Readers will have to tell me whose story they want to read next.

Excerpt

Baron Selkirk watched the beautiful blonde weave a meandering path until she turned a corner and drifted out of sight. Only then could he breathe again. The hot blood pounding in his veins finally began to cool off. He allowed the elevator doors to close.

He punched the Door Open button. As the metal walls parted, he lunged between them. He charged down the hotel corridor. Sure enough, once he’d turned the corner, he found her leaning against the wall, half-fainting.

“You’re ill,” he said. “I’ll call the desk for a doctor.”

Her eyes widened at his words.

“No, don’t,” she said. “Don’t call anyone.”

Was that fear in her expression? What was she afraid of?

“I’m not leaving you alone here to keel over,” he said. Although he wasn’t touching her, he stood close enough to catch her if she crumpled. Close enough to notice that her blue eyes were very dilated.

She half-lifted one arm and pointed down the hall to double doors. “Help me to that suite?”

“Lean on me,” he said, putting an arm around her soft shoulders. The moment he touched her, a thrill shot through his body. He willed himself to concentrate on getting her to safety.

When they reached the double doors, she disentangled herself and rested against the doorframe. “Thank you. I’ll be all right from here.”

He frowned. “Where’s your key?”

She shook her head. “It’s not my suite.” She knocked softly on the wood.

Baron spotted a doorbell and reached over to jab it. He kept his finger on the bell until he heard someone approach the door.

“Who is it?” a muffled voice asked.

“It’s me,” the blonde said.

The person inside must have used the peephole, for his next words were, “I can see you’re not alone. Who’s he?”

She glanced up at Baron. “A hotel guest. I’ve been feeling weird. He helped me here.”

“Make him leave.”

She shrugged. “Thanks for your help,” she said to Baron, “but you’d better go now.”

He got it. The door wouldn’t be opened until he left. “Are you sure you want to do this?” He angled his eyes at the door, indicating his doubts about who and what awaited her inside.

“I’ll be okay,” she said. “Thank you.”

Baron didn’t move. This was wrong.

“Please,” she said.

He tipped his hat. “Your call. Have a nice life.”

Her sudden look of dismay almost made him refuse to budge, but he turned and walked to the elevator, forcing himself to not look back. Once he was a few steps away, he heard the suite door open and muffled words. At the corner, he looked behind him. She was gone.

***

Bio

Irene Vartanoff

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff started reading romances and comic books as a teenager. Emilie Loring and Superman were her gateway drugs, which led to the serious stuff, Gothic novels and Lois Lane comics—and romance comics. Writing comic books and working on staff at Marvel Comics and DC Comics absorbed her early career years, aspects of which are gently spoofed in her superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine. Editing for major publishers of romance Harlequin, Bantam, and Berkley inspired her next career shift to writing novels. Captive of the Cattle Baron is her first sweet contemporary romance. Visit the author at www.irenevartanoff.com.

A Note From Lily

I don’t always had time to read the books that I present on Writer Wednesday, but in this case, I just finished it, and I highly recommend it. Despite the captive/abduction theme, it’s not heavy on sex or BDSM. I found it a sweet read with a lot of sizzle.

Plotting Versus Pantsing

or Why (my) Novels Take so Long to Write!!

Anywhere novelists gather, you’re sure to find a discussion of plotting versus pantsing. Do you write a detailed plot in advance, or do you wing it? There are shades along each spectrum, from pages and pages of outlines to the plot summarized on a cocktail napkin.

I have a general idea of the plot, including major turning points, but then I wing it. Here’s a better explanation.

For the Win City Lights Book Three__200x300I don’t write short stories, but if I did, envision a trip from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA. About 150 miles, or 233 kilometers. Having lived near both cities, I’ve done that drive. It’s fairly easy, without a lot of issues. If you set your GPS, or your phone’s map app, you might find it says it will take you two hours and thirteen minutes with no stops. That’s reasonable. If you choose to stop off halfway at the outlet malls in Commerce, that’s your choice, but it doesn’t change the drive time. You will just get there later. You arrive, short story done, crank out a few edits, and that’s that.

Some writing websites meant to encourage writers try to throw math into the equation. If you sit down and write ten pages a night, you will have three hundred pages in a month. That’s the premise behind National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in November of each year. Thousands of people are determined to write a novel in a month, and they try to churn out fifty thousand words, no editing, and call it a novel. Some of my writer friends who don’t have day jobs or kids can do that, and their work is still good. I am not that writer.

For the Win, around 105 pages printed, about 39,000 words, took me from August to April, nine months. That was a record time. Its companion, Breaking Even, has 40,000 words and I’m not done with edits. The grand finale, Winner Take All, has about 30,000 words and there are major holes. While I’m not working on them both at the same time, I had to nail some issues down before I could finish Breaking Even.

Right now I’m doing first edits, where I review the book chapter by chapter and send it to my editor. I’m halfway done with that. Ric and Lindsey are living in separate places during a good bit of this book, which makes the writing of a romance difficult. They are also an odd couple, especially considering how they came together.

Going back to my GPS metaphor, things happen during the first round of edits that you wouldn’t expect. If you are traveling from Atlanta to New York City by car, all sorts of things could happen. It’s 880 miles, or 1416 km. One online calculator says 13 hours two minutes. (Two minutes? Really?) Flat tire. Bad traffic. Road construction. Interesting sights that cause delays. Most people would split this trip into two days, so that adds to the time, including meals, bathroom stops…

The same thing happens when writing a novel. Real life gets in the way. Even with a first draft done, for me, things can happen during the first edit. A scene that sounded like a good idea suddenly reads flat. Or when you read it, you think Why on earth would this character do that? Or you left a hole with a note – fill this in with x, but suddenly x is the last thing you can fit there because of some other change. Or you read a scene, realize there’s no point to this particular interaction, and start cutting. This is when the GPS notices you’ve changed routes and you hear that dreaded computer voice Recalculating.

For my fans who want to know when the book will be out, I have committed to a release date of September 7. I’m hoping I can get these characters to stop arguing long enough to finish edits on Breaking Even earlier. If edits are done sooner, I will release it sooner, but I don’t want to rush it and have a bunch of errors either.

If you want to know an exact date, well, all I can say is Recalculating.

 

News:

Check out my new Pinterest board over at https://www.pinterest.com/MissLilyBishop/

I have just started using this to post inspiration and research ideas for my books, particularly with furnishings and that sort of thing.

 

If you are an author, how do you feel about pantsing versus plotting? If you are a reader, would you rather see fewer, longer works, or more frequent and shorter?

Romance Reader Survey

There are many puzzle pieces to putting together a book, including the genre, the cover, the sex scenes… I thought I would do a quick survey. Please take the time to answer a few questions. Help me get additional people to take the survey by sharing on twitter and facebook using the buttons below.

What type of romances do you like to read? Stand-alone? Connected books

What type of covers catch your eye?

All of these and more are covered in this quick survey. I’d love to hear your opinion, and I will share the results with my fellow writers.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Q9cT1AZAz6EeSp1hRmuxiSGqcH8fudxNMzy0q6z0ODc/viewform?usp=send_form

Thank you!  Did something in the survey strike a nerve? Feel free to tell me in the comments below.

(Don’t forget – I’m still waiting to give away a Starbucks gift card. Sign up for my newsletter here)

How Publishing a Book is Like Having A Baby

I keep trying to think of a metaphor for releasing a novel into the wild.2013-12-07 11.45.56
The first one that I came up with is releasing novel is like having your first baby. You prepare for nine months (although this book took about 15 months), you read everything you can about parenting (all of those books on character development, pacing, etc.), and you buy everything you can think of to help you with your baby. You have parties (showers), you fix up the nursery, paint the room. But as the date gets closer, you wonder, have you done enough? Do you have everything you need? Will the baby be healthy? Once you bring the baby home, you start to get your confidence up as a parent. That’s where the metaphor fails.
The second one that I came up with is sending your child to college. Now, granted, my children are 12 (almost 13) and 11, and I haven’t sent either one of them to college, but here are my thoughts. You took care of your child for years, making sure that he does his homework. You hope that you taught him the right things about life. You hope he will have a good work ethic and not flunk out. You buy him everything you think he will need to help him in his new life. He needs a new computer, new clothes, and bedding for that extra-long twin bed. Then he moves out, and suddenly your control vanishes.
I‘m getting ready to send this baby on out its own. It’s hard, so very hard. I think the story’s strong. I love the characters. I’ve been working on the language for a month now. My editor has gone through it and four beta readers. Why is it so difficult to take the final steps required to publish it?
I’m not a perfectionist, but last minute changes can kill you with a book. That’s usually where those typos and “oops” moments happen. When I read it, I see what’ supposed to be there, not what’s really there. It’s also nearly impossible for me to read it and not tweak. Sigh.
When you send your child to college, she has to stand on her own. You’re not going to be there to make sure she goes to class, or eats breakfast.
Once I hit publish, the book either makes it or doesn’t on its own merits. Either the book will get good reviews and some attention from readers, or it will languish in the millions of ebooks available now, never read or loved. I have to give it the best shot I can, and then it’s on its own.


 

Update…

I wrote this last Friday, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish it. The book was still in process with Amazon, and taking forever, and I was like an expectant father of old, pacing the waiting room with cigars.
And now I find I’m mentally exhausted and not wanting to get anywhere near my computer, although I know that I need to be looking for ways to promote this book. After working all day, and then staying on the computer an average of 3-4 hours a night, that’s about 12 hours a day of computer time, and I have to admit that I’m burned out.

So, if you are looking for something to read, Under His Protection can now be downloaded from Amazon
Under His Protection (City Lights Book 2) Barnes and Noble and iTunes will hopefully release soon. The first in the series can be found here: No Strings Attached (City Lights Book 1)

I’m sure I will tell you in the future how great my baby is, and how it will scare and titillate you at the same time, but right now, like a new mother, I just want to sleep. Oh, and psssstttt, if you want to keep up with how all my babies are doing, don’t forget to join my monthly newsletter here. Every time I get ten new susbscribers, I give away a $5.00 gift card to Starbucks.

10 Dialog Beats Contemporary Writers Can’t Use

Do you realize that as writers we have lost whole action steps/plots to technology? Dialog beats are those little actions that you use in dialog to both tell who is speaking and provide characterization. I had a mental image of my 2013 character twisting a phone cord around her. Sigh. Not happening. Now I’ve got to come up with something else. So here are some other things we’ve lost.

WE500dialphone

Related to the Phone

  1. She twisted the phone cord around her body. What a great way to show nervousness!  I actually used this with a hotel room phone in No Strings Attached.
  2. She slammed down the phone. (Not with a $200 cost and no forthcoming upgrade subsidy)
  3. She knocked the phone off the hook. Our kids don’t know what a hook is.
  4. Her finger dialed the operator, hooking her finger in the 0 and pulling it all the way around. See number 3.
  5. She looked up a number in the phone book. Do 20-somethings even know what a phone book is?
  6. Bash someone on the head with the receiver. I’m sure it’s been done before in fiction noire. Those were heavy receivers.
  7. She stretched the cord as far as it would reach. Gained – Replace with held the phone up in the woods to try to get service.
  8. He twisted the phone cord around his victim’s neck, tightening slowly. How are we going to strangle people now?
  9. The line “He’s calling from inside the house” goes away, since GPS can’t be that accurate. “He may or may not be calling from within 500 feet of your house?” isn’t quite as bone-chilling.
  10. A busy signal. Now we just get people who hit that send to voice mail button.

What we’ve gained…

  1. Cell phones even in remote locations, which can be challenging for crime stories. There’s always the battery died…
  2. Personal databases on cell phones, including calendars, social media, and contacts. A wealth of information for would-be criminals.
  3. GPS – it’s harder to get lost, but if your character relies on your phone maps in the country with no Internet you could get lost even worse.
  4. The fantasy of being unconnected or off the grid. When I was in college, you would go hours without anyone knowing where you were. Friends had a general idea, or you may tell someone you would be at the library, but that was it. Now, not so much.
  5. DNA evidence. That has its own problems.

What we still can’t do….

  1. Predict the weather with confidence. Sure, we get generalities, but we don’t know exactly where hurricanes will hit. They can always turn at the last moment.
  2. Rivers still flood.
  3. Blizzards still hit. (seeing a trend here?)
  4. We can do very little without electricity these days.
  5. Force someone to fall in love.

For more technology troubles with writing, check out this post from 2012 on technology.

I hope you enjoyed this little walk through time. Carry on.

(Picture by ProhibitOnions at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)

Birth of a First Draft

Yesterday morning I finished the first draft of No Time for Love, Lee and Elizabeth’s story. Lee is the brother of the hero in my first book, No Strings Attached. When last we saw him, he was dating Deena, who works for his mother. We find out his story in this book.

What happened with him and Deena? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

Lee has done as promised and started his own security firm, now called Security Solutions. He doesn’t want to focus on personal protection, but he can’t turn away a lucrative contract protecting Elizabeth Birch, the daughter of a State Senator and candidate for Attorney General. Someone is trying to kill her, and his job is to keep her safe, find out who is trying to kill her, and keep the whole thing out of the media. He’s only got one problem: Elizabeth doesn’t need or want his help and she gets in his way every turn.

Sound interesting? I hope so. Here’s a picture of my newborn, still covered in sticky fix-it-flags.

My Baby

Currently I have over 60,000 words, and about 175 pages. As I add more depth and sensory detail in coming drafts, it will get longer. But before I go too far in the revision process, my husband the lawyer has promised to give it a quick read for plot only to see if he believes the story line. Since my main character is a lawyer running for Attorney General, in ways this is his world more than mine. While I’ve picked up lingo from him for years now in the way he talks about his cases, I want to see what he thinks about the bad guys in this one. If he can believe it, then I know I’ll have something, because he doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

I’m sure together we will tweek the storyline, then I’ll get hard to work on revising. Once I’m happy, I’ll send it to my editor, who will help me make sure my language is the best it can be.

Then it will come to you. I promise.

 

If you want to keep up with news on No Time for Love, subscribe to my blog. Or if you don’t want all my posts and just want to hear about new releases, click here to get an email when I’m releasing new books. Click here to join my mailing list.

 

How Do You Feel About Gerunds?

I am sitting in my car thinking about how much I use gerunds in my writing, those pesky little -ing words meant to show immediacy. According to recent feedback from my editor, the answer is too much.

Did you notice the first sentence had two? I could have gone for three. I could have said “I am sitting in my car thinking about using gerunds in my writing.” That might have made my point more, but it was implying future use of gerunds, so it wasn’t as effective.

Like most current fiction, my book is written in third person past tense, but I still find myself sprinkling in gerunds. Here’s an example:

Lindsey tried to talk to the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone was ringing and she got up and left.

This is a clumsy example from an early draft, but you get the idea.

What about this instead?

Lindsey exchanged a few words with the red-headed girl beside her, but that failed when the girl’s phone rang and she got up and left.

I think it still kept a sense of immediacy. I’m still not happy with the sentence, but it’s closer.

What about you? I challenge you to go on a gerund hunt. You may be surprised at what you find.

Writer’s Tip Monday

I’m still editing and I’m almost there. Here are my Monday tips.

Tip One: There is no there there.

If you are at the polish stage, do a quick search for the adverb there and look for a stronger sentence construction. Often “there” is a filler that can be strengthened with some creativity. Remember, unless you are referring to a place, there is no there there.

Tip Two: The moon was jumped over by the cow.  Or by the zombies.

Look for passive construction. I saw a great tip today on the grammarley blog from twitter user Rebecca Johnson (@johnsonr).  You can find it here:

http://blog.grammarly.com/post/34095768680/writeworld-mightymur-the-final-brilliant

Her idea: Look for your verb. If you can insert the phrase “by a zombie” after it and it still makes sense, you have a passive sentence.  I love this! I don’t want to steal their thoughts, so check out the grammarly blog for the exact examples.

That’s all folks.  Remember, editing doesn’t have to be a painful process, and it doesn’ have to extend into infinity.  My goal is to send the complete manuscript to my editor by the middle of November. I would like to be done before then, but I’m realistic, and considering I work full-time and have two elementary school age kids, I think that’s the best I can hope for.

Write on!!!