Cutting Up the Book

Today I can see perfectly with both eyes again! And no headache on the horizon:) So of course I am ready to dive back into my manuscript to make the changes for the Wild Rose Press editor. She wants a big cut, and she’s right about that. But it’s not as much as I thought. About 50 pages.

First I had to dig through my closet to find the box with the proper manuscript. Then I lifted the top stack out of the box. I tend to save a couple of copies and photos and other things I use during a books’ progress, but I was pretty sure this pile was the right book, since I’d only sent it out a few months ago.

Greeting me on the title page was this note: “Pages out of order are corrected in Word and thumb drive.” So I spent almost an hour getting my pages back in order because they were a mess. And even now there are two pages of some and no pages of others. I was quite tempted to just print the whole thing out again but feel guilty about the wasted paper.

Why didn’t I organize my pages at the time? Because I was anxious to move to the step–submission. And then back to my Cher novel. So I tossed the manuscript into the box and forgot about it until now.

My filing system may seem shockingly low tech, but I am a little more organized than I used to be. I once sent a draft of a novel to someone who was in a position to help me get published. Because I failed to label it correctly, I sent the wrong draft. She sent it back saying “I think this is a rough draft…there are spelling mistakes…” I was so embarrassed. So now I take care to label every new version of my manuscript in a way that will immediately allow me to find the right copy.

When the current editor sent the ms. back, I labeled it with her initials, so I’d know that these are the correction pages, where I will use the editing tools. Yes, we revise on the computer in our publishing house. Again, saving paper, if not my eyes.

I was surprised how little there actually was in the way of remarks on the Word version she sent back. Most of her notes were in the revision letter, so at least she trusts me to know what to do with her suggestions. The big one was cutting the last 50 pages. The other big thing was showing instead of telling. Yes I make the same mistake I always warn my students against. However, in critique we talked about how sometimes you really need to tell. I hope I know the difference when I read through the manuscript. She points out maybe one or two places where she suggests this, but since she said it’s a BIG concern, I assume I have more than she marked.

That’s what I do, as a writing teacher. After the first few pages of inserting commas, I just tell them, you have comma problems, you need to fix them. Then I know they’re really learning instead of just using me as their editor for rewrites. So I guess where show or tell is concerned, everyone must learn to be their own editor.

The Plan

For about a month now, I have been working every day on a non-fiction project with a good friend. Yes, I am collaborating. Something I thought I’d never, ever do. But it is going well and I’m glad to be attached to this particular project for a variety of reasons dear to my heart. Too soon to talk specifics, but we are calling it The Plan for now. Just a place-holder name.

Meanwhile, my unfinished novel sits in the drawer taking a nap. I’d like to figure out a way to work on both projects, a little bit every day. But then I think, well, I’m getting edits from my publisher 12/1/12 or so for Blue Heaven, and the holidays are coming, and etc etc. I do have a critique group meeting on 12/1/12 and I need to bring them something from the novel. So I have at least that to keep me somewhat into the unfinished novel (also very dear to my heart!).

Feeling a little torn. But really, I love my life right now. I get to pick my projects, I have a publishing house working to get my next release ready, the blog has a new look, I have three published books with a fourth coming soon and a fifth in the pipeline. Life is good for the moment.

Been reading lots of novels with death as a theme. It came to me that the reason so many people over 50, or over 60, are depressed is more than just “the kids never visit, they never call” — it’s because they are on the other side of life, looking at their accomplishments or lack thereof and possibly feeling sad about not fulfilling their dreams.

My dreams didn’t turn out exactly like I planned. (Who plans on an information superhighway in 1980? Not me.) But they have come to fruition in new ways and that make me happy. I knew it the minute I started this blog. The fire to “be published” began to cool. I felt published, even though blogging is self-publishing. For me, the happy feeling, the reward, is the same. I don’t blog because I need to promote my novels. I blog because I love feeling connected to other writers.

So the other side of 50 is working for me. I am still amazed that I teach college. If my high school yearbook had a motto, under my picture it would have said “most likely to burn out fast.” Or “least likely to succeed.” And at the time I believed those things to be true. That they are the opposite of true amazes and humbles me. Feeling grateful today. Hope you all are too.

Where Truth Meets Fiction

I wrote the memoir. It was a short piece for an anthology that doesn’t pay much, so just this morning, I decided not to send it. I don’t need the publication credit, and I don’t want it out there. It might hurt my husband or it might not, but he’s not the only one I’m thinking about. My sons don’t need to see this.

I think of all the people who I’ve hurt, all of those who hurt me, all of the times I’d had to forgive, the times I needed to be forgiven. The past–it will haunt you if you let it. The one who lifted my shirt while I was sleeping and touched me when I was a girl. The one who said a nasty thing to me, something a friend should never say. The one who talked to my chest every time I saw him when he should have been looking at my eyes. The one who grabbed my ass behind the bar. The one…well, you get it.

I still admire the idea of writing about stepfamilies and I realized that this is exactly what I am doing in my fiction. I am writing my second novel about “steps.” It’s a theme with me, and this is the way to get it out. Not through biography, but through my truest eyes. It seems strange, but I can be far more truthful in my fiction than I can in any other type of writing.


My favorite hashtag on Twitter is #amwriting. If I do nothing else in my day, I want to write. And then I want someone to know. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but I am writing. One project out of the way: A 15 page report on how to put together a writer’s conference that DWW members requested I write. I didn’t want to do it. I was over the conference and all the time it took away from my own work. But I did it, because I was asked and because the info was fresh in my head.

Tomorrow critique group meets here, so I wrote another chapter on the Sister Issues sequel. I am only at about 20,000 words into that one. I am not sure why I’m finding it so difficult to string together some writing days for just that fiction project, but something else too ofen calls.

I have another writing project, this with a friend. I can’t believe I’m collaborating on a book. I never thought I would do that. But this is a non-fic project close to both of our hearts and I’m giving a ton of time to it. It is time well spent and when I can I will say more.

Also working on an essay about Steps (as in step families) for possible inclusion in an anthology. I have a draft written but it needs more work. My sons have a step dad and a step mom and we’ve been in this step situation 28 years. So…I have a few things to say.

Congrats to everyone who is tackling NaNoWriMo. With several writing projects pulling me in all directions, I just can’t fit it in, but I #amwriting.

Sad Bad Gypsy

Well, I’ve been thinking about Gypsy manuscript since I read it. And I really think the paranormal world is awkward, the love story sucks, and some of the chapters drag. Revising this one may be more trouble than it is worth. At least right now. I’m glad I read it, I’m glad to know. Now I can get back to my first draft of the sequel to Sister Issues.

I think I have been putting off tackling that first draft again. It’s a little bit like being on a high wire. But that’s where I’m going next. My plan is to put Sister Issues out in paperback format at the same time as Cher’s sequel. If I’m indie pubbing this one, which really it looks like that’s what will happen, I may even make them one book. It will be a big fat juicy book:)

Another option would be to make Sister Issues a free Kindle download for a week or so, and hope folks will buy the follow up. Hey! I actually thought of a marketing idea:)