I’m revising. Last night I tore through thirty pages of edits and feel good with the progress made on my manuscript. I’m hoping to be done tonight. Hoping–but not holding my breath.
A long time ago, when I was doing a book signing for my first book, I met another author–Carole Warburton. She was with a bigger publisher (the one I’m now with), and I was in awe of her. She gave me some advice, advice that is useful every day in my career.
She taught me about edits.
“Edits aren’t evil,” she’d said. “Edits are a chance to prove you can do it better.”
So when it comes time to do an edit on a book I’ve written, I repeat her words in my mind. Edits are a chance to prove I can do it better. I love a challenge. Of course I can do it better! Just watch and see.
I only wish I could manipulate my reality the same way I manipulate my written world. I wish I had a delete button when I say something completely stupid. I wish I could rearrange parts of my day so they fit better and accomplish more, the same way I rearrange paragraphs on a page.
In reality, just like with writing, of course I can do better when I don’t get it right. Of course I can be more patient. Of course I can speak words of compassion, love, and respect. I can edit my future, but that doesn’t delete the deeds of the past. It’s vexing–this reality thing.
The important thing is knowing where we can do better and working towards that. Thanks Carole. The advice is useful all these years later.
Cross My Heart actually has a book launch date–November 4th! It’ll be food, fun, and prizes so be there! The address and details will come in the next few days. Sorry about the delay on that. I’m heading to California to do a book signing at the Disneyland Hotel and we’re making a family trip out of it so it’s been tough to get all the scheduling to work out. Thanks for being patient with me.
I went to an SCBWI conference this last weekend. It was one of the better conferences I have been to in a while, including some of the out of state stints I’ve done. Friday night they had a mix and mingle thing for published authors, the editor, agent, and illustrator director they brought in for the conference. I love mingling with authors. These are my people. Just thinking about them makes me smile. I spent a wonderful time talking to Amy Finnigan, Mette Ivie Harrison, Rick Walton, Sydney Husseman, Stacy Whitman and many others. It was great fun. I also got to meet Jill Dembowski from Little Brown. I spent a small while chatting with her and realized I was guilty of hogging the editor, not because I meant to, but simply because she was so much fun to talk to and we both love books. It’s so easy to converse with others who love books. Once I realized I had started a monopoly, I hurried to move her into another group where others had a chance. She just acquired a new series that sounds simply awesome. I’d give more details, but don’t know if that’s allowed so I’ll just say that in 2010 look for a way cool book from Little Brown.
The next day was the conference. It was held at the city library in downtown Salt Lake. I hadn’t been to the library since they built it. This is the great tragedy of living in the middle of nowhere. The library is beautiful. I mean really truly breathtaking. And the conference? Fabulous. I actually learned new things (and I’ve been writing a long time folks) Jill spoke on what makes authors stand out in her eyes. Her thoughts were poignant enough to merit repeating, so here they are:
The first thing she said was, “Buy Presents!”
Of course we all laughed, and she said she was just kidding. But there are “gifts” you can give your editor that are not only acceptable but hoped for as well.
These are a few of the things from her list:
- Write well
- Don’t be a jerk
- Don’t be a jerk
- Don’t be a jerk
Really honestly, that is all you need to gift your editor with. Prove you aren’t difficult to work with by truly *listening* to what they have to say. And do everything in your power to WRITE WELL. They don’t need chocolates (well they probably do . . who doesn’t really?), but your contract will not be dependant upon providing chocolate (I hope I’m not wrong . . . Kirk? Am I wrong? Do you need chocolate, or tickets to the world series maybe?)
Of course this is information for how to act both before and *after* getting a publisher. Jill went on for a bit on how to improve your chances of being noticed by a publisher in the first place. Here’s that list:
- Do proofread. Editors understand an errant comma, but do your absolute best to turn in your best.
- Do research the publishing house, their list, and their editors.
- But DO NOT stalk! Don’t look up the editors on Google Earth and spy on them via satellite.
- Do know competitive titles to what you’ve written. What other books is your manuscript most like?
- Do know what makes your manuscript stand out from those competitive titles.
- Do know the marketplace in terms if what is available and being published.
- Do NOT try to cater to the marketplace. Just because vampires are hot right now does not mean that’s the type of book you should be writing.
- Do have a great web presence. Have a website, a blog, facebook, myspace etc.
- Do get an agent.
- Do NOT lie about your credentials. Here’s the deal; I write in a very niche market. Of course I have to play nice and be honest. I know everyone (and I mean everyone) in my little niche. You might assume that the rest of the publishing world must be this vast sea of authors, editors, and agents, but you would be wrong. It’s still a small world, where everyone knows everyone. You mistreat someone along the way, you tell one little lie about a publication, a contact, ANYTHING, and it will come back to bite you in the backside. I promise you. Because these people are mostly all friends. And they get together and talk. Not saying they’re all gossipers, but that they communicate. Be smart. Be honest. Let your work stand out and shine . . . either that or as Jill said, let your normalcy shine. (that made me laugh–authors? Normal? Yeah right.)
- Don’t complain about agents, or publishers, or other authors on your blog. This is bad form. Don’t do it!
- Do say thanks. A little gratitude for the time an editor or agent spends on you goes a long way. They work hard for you. Appreciate it enough to vocalize a thank-you.
The last tidbit of advice Jill imparted was this: The latest trends in writing is GOOD STORIES!
My work in progress is at 42,000 words. And I wasn’t even doing Nanowrimo.
First of all, Michael Crichton died November 4th at the age of 66 from cancer. So sad that his death was glossed over by the major news of the presidential election. I am a big fan of his writing. I always found myself being able to see things from a different point of view–one I’d never considered before–after reading his books.
Some quotes I like by Mr. Crichton: “If you don’t know your family’s history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree”
and my favorite: “In science, consensus is irrelevant.”
One of my favorite articles he’d written can be found at: http://www.crichton-official.com/speech-ourenvironmentalfuture.html
In fact . . . this article holds one of the base points for the book I am currently writing. We lost an interesting thinker on election day. I, for one, will miss his viewpoints and opinions.
Next on my list for reasons I picked a bad week to quit cussing . . . I did something incredibly vain. Though I take little responsibility for the actual fault. The blame goes to my sister in law who wanted to surprise me with a really cool gift for my birthday. She convinced my mom and my sister to go in on it with her. They paid for a gift certificate for me to get permanent makeup. More specifically, I got my lips tattooed.
Seriously, I am not kidding. It was unprecedented pain, like a million tiny razor blades churning my lips into raw hamburger. I had a “block” for the pain, but whatever they use for those blocks is not the same stuff dentists use because it had worn off in ten minutes. The other hour and forty minutes was spent with my fists clenched tightly at my middle and tears running out the corners of my eyes. I would have stopped the whole procedure halfway through, got off the table, and walked away forever, except then I’d look like some half baked mutant.
The technician person kept telling me I was almost done. I finally stopped her mid-sentence and told her she was a horrific liar.
When they handed me the mirror at the end, I almost laughed and cried all at once. I looked like Goldie Hawn in the First Wives Club when she had her collagen injection on her lips. I looked absurd, and swollen, and I confess I had the thought that it was no less than I deserved after doing something so frivolous and vain.
Today I look better (less like a harlot, and more like a child playing with mommy’s lipstick) The jury is still out on whether or not I am glad I did this. My advice to anyone thinking about it is, “Pay the extra money and go somewhere that will knock you out first.” I do believe I will be happy with it in a couple of weeks, after I’m all healed and not having to put on lipstick to go out. I’ll let you know.
In consolation to all this, I wrote 2000 words yesterday. This equates to 8 pages in a 12 pt font, 1 inch margins, Times New Roman. Not bad for a day’s work.