What a wild ride. OH, that’s right. Wait.

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Got the edits done.

Sent back to agent.

Two days later … email from agent.

HEY, that cannot be good! I didn’t want to open it. I mean. Have you ever watched courtroom shows? Bad news comes quick.

Right?

I checked all my other email, first. I chewed a nail. Maybe five. Clicked on the email, then shut my eyes. Opened one. Then the other. Took a deep breath.

OH. He got the manuscript. In about a month + I will hear back.

WHEW and … oh, piffle. Another wait. It is what it is, and at least it wasn’t: “We hate this! Go away!”

 

 

 

While I Edit !

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As I agonize of my re-edit of How to Steal a Romance, I came across not just tired words, overused words, and unnecessary words, but a treasure trove of repeated phrases, actions that were like Biblical plagues of flies and frogs. Since it’s my first fiction, it could be the death of my firstborn.
With gratitude that rivals (almost) the recounting of the Exodus story, I give thanks the agent is also an editor and loves new authors.
With that in mind, I have another chapter to Edit Zombie. Ain’t that grand? Only hope it won’t be a repeat of the Chicago Manual of Style in content and heft…
Trying hard to decide. What to do, write Edit Zombie next, or Glass Slipper? Should I pick Forget Me Not up before?
The conundrums we face. Thankfully (??????) I am still editing HTSR. I suppose now, I ought to tackle said manuscript instead of lingering around social media.
Well then. Off I go, but muuuaaah be aware that Your Inner Edit Zombie lurks … patiently …

In the Meantime …

Well, before I get too far into this post… I yes, am going to edit HTSR again. Taking a break. Gadzooks! Am I sick of that book or what?

BUT. Don’t kill your manuscript (at least, entirely) while those wonderful rejections come in (or nothing at all).

KEEP the research you’ve done on all things too technical to keep in said MS. Why? It may come in handy for that next novel. The one you should be working on while you wait for an answer from agent or publisher.

Besides. It gives you time off to let the manuscript cool until your eyes are fresh.

 

SHOCK!

I keep a copy of each MS I edit… Okay. I am OCD about this. What if? I mean, really. What happens if an agent/PH wants more of *insert whatever you edited out.* It also shows me how bad my writing was to how it has improved. Rejections are not failures, by the way. They are good reminders that our work needs work.

Ask me, I know all about character changes. Well, not all, but a lot more than when I began. Don’t give your MC a flaw then never deal with it, or overcome it. That’s an obstacle he/she must overcome to get the goal. A cop out to let him/her continue in her fear yet conquering the villain(s). In a series, by the end of it, he/she had better deal with this in a HEA sorta way otherwise you disappoint your readers. Leaving readers hanging at the end of book one is also a bit of a cheat. Sometimes.

What if your MC knows everything from Arabic to piloting a helicopter? Is it realistic? Well, look at some of our military. Yes. It is. Or can be. Think: JASON BOURNE. Able to speak a zillion languages, memorize every car license he sees, kill with a pencil, keep weapons secret, as well as big money. Have ten passports . Did we suspend believability?

IT DEPENDS. If said character has never done this, well then, YES. If your character is part of a SEAL team or CIA, maybe not. Even if in a fake shadowy government ‘wet work’ research arm. Jason Bourne had amnesia except how to do previously said ‘everything.’ That now, is a freaky flaw.

Does this mean Jason was perfect? NO. He is emotionally damaged, walking around wondering just who the heck he is, falling in love perhaps for the first time since becoming an assassin… since losing his memory.

(image courtesy Fandom and Wiki)

Can you tell I loved Robert Ludlam?

What about Matthew Knight in Knight and Day? HI-larious, despite less than great reviews. Poor fMC keeps passing out, usually with the help of a knock out drug or Vulcan grip. Her handling of an automatic? TOO FUNNY. Most of us would be more or less in her position. We can relate to her angst. Her flaws. We don’t really see his flaws unless he is 1. presented with real romance and 2. physically in danger. AND fMC changes to overcome scary obstacles to save the man she loves, even if her methods suspend our belief a wee bit.

When you let your manuscript cool a few weeks, look at your characters. They make the script. Then obstacles make it sing for the MC who has to overcome said obstacle(s).

Villains – total cop out if they are too stupid to outwit your MC. Really.

In the Bourne Identity, the end was a HEA. The obstacles overcome (so he thought), he joined the love of his life. The second and third novels brought a new obstacle. Revenge. Repentance. The novels are better than the movies, but since I love Matt Damon’s acting and the rush of the action in film, it’s okay that the Ludlam novels had significant changes.

Let me know if any of this has encouraged you. OR discouraged you. I figure, if your passion is writing, just keep on, no matter how many times you’re rejected.

And, if anyone wants me to read and evaluate the first 50 pages of your manuscript, it’s a ten buck deal. Link to my WordPress here…

and FB page at:

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireOSullivanChristianRomanceAuthor/

 

The Big Edit

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Last night, I finished the BIG EDIT on How to Steal a Romance. I was too tired to get onto FB, WordPress, etc. to sing that hallelujah until today.

The intense past two weeks did me in. Whew. I took a day/evening off and hope to gather my wits about me, and in another day or so, will go back…and…listen…again. Via an eReader. It speaks each word



so if you have have an extra word here or there awkward sentence here… or accidentally insert a horizontal line that you thought was a strikeout line that sometimes our eyes don’t see–it picks up on it, and boom, you can hit pause and fix the MS. Even better, ’cause it’s free.

I spent about 20 minutes writing my most used phrases and words this morning (yes, again). Actions and emotions. Dialogue-y type stuff. Things that should individually belong to individual character. While the agent didn’t call specifically for these things, as a reader (and my Inner Edit Zombie), my eyes cast a shadow over them, scarier than Dark Shadows (that … might age me … if you know what that is without having to look it up, you’re in the same group!).

What is a writer’s life without the agony of editing? The rejections? The tunic rent asunder, ashes thrown into the air, with weeping and gnashing of teeth?

Okay, so that last part is 1. too Biblical and out of context … and 2. way over the top. For most of us.

Despite my ‘thank you, Lord’, for the small mercies of getting things done, I am still beat. Don’t think I could pick up a book or write a limerick today. Feel like a Borg. Plug me into the wall and let me stand there until I can fit into that waist-crushing outfit Seven of Nine had to wear (like that would ever happen).

<looks around, fanning self>

Anyone have a nice place in Nova Scotia I could stay at? It’s too hot here, so my tropical island dream right now has a latitude of Vermont or higher.

And surely there is a holiday or birthday somewhere in the world tomorrow, so Happy August Ninth *insert name of holiday* and have a great rest of the week.

 

Characters. Bigger than Story. Bigger than Perfect Grammar

I read a book that reports story is greater than structure. Oh, how I agree with that!

YET…

Have a great story? Pitch-perfect structure?  Awesome.

Cough. Blink. Cough. 

Those rejections hurt, don’t they? Each agent is the Benihana of agents who shuts… you… down. No answer. Publishing houses write you – but not what you wanted to hear. But WHY? you cry. Angry, you stomp off to self-publish. You are a genius! They miss your point, and boy, won’t they be sorry! I’ll hold my breath! I’ll stare at the sun! Wont they be sorry! 

A lot depends in what genre you write. But, publishing houses and agents who troll the internet for good work, they look for 1. good writing 2. good characters 3. Likelihood of sales.

Think Fifty Shades of Grey (I keep harping on this book probably because the author walked off with $95 million… Am I jealous? NOOOOOO, not at all). Bad writing. But great kidnapping and BDSM (oh wait, since he’s stinking rich, it’s not kidnapping).  Author laughs all the way to the bank.

But, not even story is greater than structure.  Characters rule. Write about perfect people. Why did it get rejected? Because no one overcomes a flaw or several within chapter one. Who can relate? And on the opposite side, make that main character so whiny and pathetic  throughout, and agents will toss that novel.  Why? They aren’t trying to change. They aren’t falling into old habits and climbing out of a rut.  Hey, it’s ok to remind agents time to time of the obstacle. Agents  and publishers (not to mention readers) need reminding.

Then, fill those plot holes. Make sure you have a really good editor. Share the final draft with a group of readers. Find out if they can relate to your MC. If you get thumbs up, get ready for more rejections.

WHAT?? What is hot today is already past. The publishing world changes faster than a bullet train, and your novel is shredded under it. What can you do? GIVE THE STORY A MESSAGE. Shock ’em with twists not expected. How does your new and improved MC deal with a more horrific obstacle? OVERCOME. Don’t forget that antagonist, are they too vague? Too stupid? Make sure you hate/relate with them.

Take a serious look at your flaws. Those around you. Have you written about those? Well … that, too can hurt. What if someone criticizes you? Develop thick skin.  THEN, send that new and improved MS out. After more rejections,, keep working. If your first MS is not accepted, put it aside, work on your craft -and your second novel. Don’t quit. If it’s in you (bitten by that itchy writing bug), make sure you never stop what makes you happy. But don’t be lazy, don’t quit working on those characters. Make ’em loveable.

Don’t hire a vanity press. No one should pay to read your work. When you just HAVE to be published, then self publish. Average sales? $2000 for the work. Forever. A bunch of great writers make the coveted New York Times award. But not necessarily YOU.  

So make your characters real. Then, stick them into that cool plot. Make the agents weep. As the Firefly saying goes: ‘Sigh, baby, sigh. Make your mama cry.’

You’ll get there. In the meantime … you get to cry… Keep on writing.

yeeeesh … kill me now ….

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I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to editing.

<Laughs in near hysteria>

Okay, whatever, you inner thought fool.

I ditched (for the most part) editing for the past two days, since I had to fill a gap into Forget Me Not: Non Compos Mentis. It wasn’t the ‘necessary or the world will fall apart if you don’t’ rewrite’, but since it’s a romance, it ya, kinda did.

Without the rewrite, there would be no decent clash between guy and gal. The male love interest would have no reason to act less decisively, since he’s a decisive kind of guy. Main character would have no ‘who IS this person and why did he…?’ Sure, she has her own issues to battle, but no looming worries over the love interest.

The tension of attraction wouldn’t be strong, because readers liked tension. And I just wasn’t feelin’ the tension.

Hey, we may not like to fight with our spouses in real life, but let the sparks fly in fiction, and –for me, the read is more satisfying.

If you fight with your spouse in anger, I highly recommend praying for each other and seeking counsel. Now. But, not in fiction–they misunderstand each other, argue, feelings get hurt, you know–guy gets girl, guy looses girl, guy gets girl back. Or in this case, girl hires guy (for real work, git your mind outta the gutter!), guy accepts job, girl… okay, that’s enough of that.

I’m a gimme-a-message kinda gal, too. Show me the worst side of the characters, how they overcome the obstacle: a fear, misunderstanding–or a real physical obstacle, and I might just realize how to face my own personal writing-demons-from-the-abyss. Or just the regular Hades abiding creepazoids, trying to fill me with fear and self-doubt.

Please, writer, don’t make your main characters perfect. *Yawn.* What are they physically, emotionally, spiritually struggling with? Is it a struggle I can relate to or empathize with? Think *Wounded Warriors,* men and women who see the worst in death, the heroic in saving the innocent, lose limbs … and the mind-torture of things you can’t un-see.

Well. Dang it. Just thought, I need to fiddle more with my antagonist.

FINE. ‘Time for some thrilling heroics.’ (Image: Firefly)

<slouches, reaching for another cup of Joe>

Going to the manuscript. Again.

<laughter emits from inner thoughts>

Shut up. Twit.

I am NOT Your Arc Enemy!

computer woes

http://cmahoneyfnp.wixsite.com/claireosullivan/single-post/2017/07/16/I-am-Not-Your-ARC-Enemy-

Decidedly decided to be an ARC reader. YES, though I decline to go through a publishing house (well, I may).

ARC reading costs the publishing house. It comes off the back end of your royalties (they say no, but read the fine print. If they send 150 or more ‘free copies’ to ARC readers, how do they pay for that?).

Self publishing and Indie writing is like swimming in a shark tank. Think  about it.

You’ve finished your book. You’ve had it professionally edited (or you are smarter than the average reader). The professionally-designed cover is perfect. 

The baby is ready. Bathed. Clean diaper. Fed. Giggly.

You are about to put it on Create Space or whatever venue you have readied. Create Space is great if they sell your book for 18 bucks and you get … $4.50. Don’t forget the free promos to market. Okay, so you don’t want to overwhelm readers with an $18 book. You lower the price to very reasonable. You get that very reasonable royalty at $1.50.  

You realize you need to market every day. All your waking moments (when you are not working on the next WIP). It’s cheaper to have Print on Demand copies sent to you. Costs, but cheaper and you can pocket that cash (don’t forget taxes). You pay $2.50 per book, one hundred, obviously $250.00. You sell it at $4.50. Great!

Now all you need is one HUNDRED THOUSAND readers to get rich, and no reviews. Now you might. The average runs around $2000 in sales (per book, not month or year). That means you are prolific. You must write and sell about ~ 6 books in three months, and now you are producing trash. I’ve read novels put out by Bethany House, Avon, Harper-Collins that rush a book through. With trashy writing. Why? Because they mass market crap. They want YOUR royalties. Even great writers fall into the hands of the greedy PH.

And, remember this: READERS FORGET TO REVIEW. GOODREADS takes out the majority of your 5 star ratings. If you use Create Space, they do the same. Why? They don’t have to pay the royalties unless you reach a certain number of copies sold. Who is going to sell a 1 or 2 star book?

What if  a publishing house stamps your book with a horrible cover? Back flap? Tough. They believe it will sell. You think it sucks. Publishing houses want perfection. They now are moving to the side of the Chicago Manual of Style and roll their eyes at Strunk and White. But … you still need to have your edit near perfection in content, spelling, grammar, fresh voice, sale-ability, and YOUR marketing plan, and why should anyone read your work?

Think Fifty Shades of Grey, or John Dies at the End. Full of horrific writing. But, everyone is into BDSM and erotica or aliens.  Both made the big screen. If you write sweet romance, being Amish is all the rage. What? Wait, what?  

If you choose erotica, you’ll do great. If you choose Amish, maybe great. Here’s conventional wisdom: Get an agent (15% off your royalties), publishing house accepts it (another 15%), an entertainment attorney (15-20%).

Skip to the chase, Claire!

You get free critiques from critique groups. You run it through the Beta groups. Great! Now what?  Like the PHs, you want to know (before you invest in the pro edit – or not -that’s your call; before you pay for an awesome cover), you want to know. Will it sell?

An ARC reader (like my small plan) reads your work as average Joe or Josephine, and gives the PH (or you) the likelihood of a great read. A good review. Suggestions if needed. ARC readers are not editors, Beta readers (although if there’s a major plot hole or confusion, a million distracting SPaG issues – I would) will.

But you want to know WILL THIS SELL? Before you throw your work to the four winds, find an ARC. Either through traditional means or ME. Of course, what do you think I am, silly?

Don’t pay the cost of all of the above until you know your book is worthy of 4-5 stars. The two things I DO recommend, however you decide: Get an entertainment lawyer. They protect your work, go over fine print and help you navigate the shark tank of PH and even the rules of SP/Indie.

As a freelance ARC, I charge a one-time, ten dollar fee to read your work in a timely manner. You send me a LOCKED pdf (means I can’t change a thing), consider a copyright (means no one can steal it), and I send you an honest critique via email–privately to you, and I give good reviews. If your baby needs work, I will tell you. When your work is done and on the shelf, you let me know, and my review hits your favorite site, i.e. GOODREADS, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook, etc.  

You might THINK this is torture. It is not. Promise.

So tag me here, on Facebook, Word Press, or Twitter. Here on WordPress: Cindy212 Twiter: authorclaire1:  Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/  OR my gmail account : c.mahoney.fnp@gmail.com . PM, DM or as you want.

Pardon the language of the above. It’s picture perfect. The one bad word is pardonable, yes?