Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010: Days 54, 55, 56, & 57 Catching Up!!

I've been bad. Haven't posted in a few days, but I have to say, EUREKA!!

As I alluded to in a few of my previous posts, I was having a really tough time these past few weeks. There were a few health issued going on that were not only distracting me, but making it very hard to concentrate on what I needed to do (on many levels).

Anyway, the doc says I'm fine, but I've gotten on mega doses of vitamins, changed my diet (and actually losing weight), and getting more sleep than usual (bump up the Omega 3 for healthy heart and vascular health--more blood to the brain, the better it works). In just a matter of weeks I can feel the transformation to my old self, yay!

The Eureka moment though is how clear my mind is now. Thursday and Friday I plowed through two more chapters. The problem I'm dealing with is that when I wrote the first draft, I dumped everything I  could possible think of into it. At my last sitting, I found several sections that weren't bad, but the information was out of sequence. When that happens I separate the sentences and put them back together as if they were a puzzle--one line at a time.  Today I'm going to start work on chapter 25. I've edited thousands of words from this manuscript and yet continue to add to the word count.   I'm current at 66,993 words. :)

So, the moral of the story is, take care of  yourself and don't force yourself to write. Damn the deadlines. Walk away from it for as long as it takes to get your muse back.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

2010: Day 53

I managed to correct the three chapters I was "struggling" through yesterday. The true test will be read them without picking up my red pen. Hmmmm.

So, while I read, here's a joke a friend sent to me. :)

A writer died and was given the choice of going to heaven or hell.

The writer thought she'd check out each place before making her decision. So with an angelic escort she descended the brimstone steps to the fiery pits and here she entered a grimy sweatshop and saw rows and rows of writers chained to their desks. As the writers worked on their manuscripts they were repeatedly whipped with cats-o-nine tails.

"Oh gosh golly," the writer told the angel, "I'd better go check out heaven now!"

So they walked back up the brimstone steps and now proceeded up the golden steps that led to Heaven. Here the writer entered another sweatshop, and here again were rows of writers chained to their desks. Just like in Hell, the writers were whipped with cats-o-nine tails as they struggled over every precious word and vital scene in their stories.

The writer was confused. "But this is just as awful as hell!"

"Certainly not!" protested the angel. "Here, your work actually gets published!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2010: Day 52 - In Full Swing Again

Sometimes dialogue seems to ramble on and on without direction and just when I think it makes sense and should stop, it doesn't.

I came across a section in chapter 23 that I tweaked and edited until it sounded "natural." It's an interrogation scene. The original chapter was so long that I was able to break it down into three separate chapters. Much of what is revealed in these chapters is based on the events the character unveils a few chapters before. So I went back and forth between chapters, making sure things were consistent and I'd finally gotten the first two chapters in this scene to work. They have a natural flow of information; the questions/answers were logical and played up to each character's voice. Great!

I was nearly done with the third section and again, it was going well. The focus is the detective's interest in knowing if the woman he's interrogating had anything to do with a recent murder of her former employer. He senses that even if she didn't actually shoot the weapon, she's hiding or possibly protecting someone. He suspects the victim's business partner and pushes her for answers about him. The dialogue between the two works well, so well that the detective redirects the line of questions. I thought I was nearing the end of the chapter when I realized I'd started beating a dead horse with more of repetitive stuff.

There are some workable lines in that section so it's not a matter of just cutting the entire section. I’ll just read the entire chapter again and pick the bests lines--the ones that keep the scene focused, and cut the rest. Grrr. I'll never get done.

Monday, February 22, 2010

2010: Day 51 - Busy, Busy, Day

I've been working the past several days to get author Janie Franz's 2-week virtual book tour off the ground and today was day one at my other blog, Novel Works. I was really pleased to hear how excited she was with the response on day one. 

Managed to work a bit more on my novel during my lunch hour, but will dedicated an hour or so to it tonight before the Olympics come on. Which reminds me ... how DO they keep track of that tiny hockey puck?  In these games, all the athletes are champions!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010: Day 51 Plugging Away

All the snow that barreled down in the past couple of weeks is now melting into pools of sludge. It's rained all day here--it would have been a great day to sleep in late, but our mini-doxi had other ideas. Candy, had back surgery last April and although she’s doing better and has a good chance of a full recovery, she is still unable to walk and thus needs help to get a drink of water and to do her business. Anyway, she wakes me up every morning between 5:00 and 5:30. By the time I get done with her, I’m wide awake and ready to put on a pot of coffee and get to work on my writing.

I managed to get through another three chapters today. Yay! Now I'm off to do more reading in "The Secret Keeper."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

2010: Days 49 and 50 - I'm Back

I never really left. The writing is always rolling around in the head. I step away from Shroud of Lies for just over a week and today I plowed through six chapters of edits. Not bad, huh?  I outlined my next novel and finished a score of other business that needed to get done so I don't feel guilty about setting it aside in the least.

And now, I'm off to watch the women's downhill! ;)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2010: Days 47 & 48 And Life Goes On

Okay, when I walk away, I tend to keep going but with a good excuse. Life, life, and more life.

I'll admit that last week I felt a bit on the drained side. I was working on edits of Shroud of Lies which were going better than I expected but I got to the point where the writing felt forced. I know better than to keep going. I'm giving myself at least two weeks to get all the old words out of my head so I can get back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.

In the meantime, and I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I drafted the synopsis for a romantic suspense novel. I'm somewhat excited about this--think it has potential. I never thought I'd find myself in this situation but it's entirely possible that I'll be juggling between the two manuscripts at one time. Can she do it??  Time will tell.

In the midst of my writing dilemma, I'm sponsoring a new fantasy author, Janie Franz on a two-week virtual book tour through my Novel Works blog.  The tour begins on Monday, February 22 and ends on Saturday, March 6.  Franz's full tour schedule will posted on February 22. Hope you'll stop by and leave a comment.

On March 2, I'm hosting author Paul Harris during his virtual tour on Murder By 4 and will post his interview on Novel Works on Thursday, March 4.

Every night I go home with the best intensions to write, but end up doing "business" instead and that's okay for now.  I started reading Paul's book, THE SECRET KEEPER and I'm anxious to get back to it. More tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010: Days 45 & 46

I'm thinking that if I can write my way into a corner. I can write my way out of it. Thankfully, the fog is starting to lift.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

2010: Days 42, 43, & 44 - Doing My Taxes

How about those opening ceremonies in Vancouver? I wanted to believe the whales were real but had to keep reminding myself the effects were computer generated. I loved that the entire program told the Canadian story. Amazingly clever and entertaining. And what a gorgeous part of the world to live in. Vancouver is definitely on my list of places to visit.

My husband, our son, and I went out to eat on Friday and then stayed up late (three hours difference between Indiana and the west coast) watching the Olympic ceremonies (hence my lack of posting).

Yesterday, I spent the entire day organizing our taxes. I don't know about other writers, but when I began to write and then later became published no one mentioned anything to me about the need to file taxes for my publishing expenses and revenue. I had a small business years ago and have maintained my tax exempt number, but knowing what to claim and how to keep record of book sales and my expenses was something I had customize for myself.  I posted the following article on record keeping a few weeks ago on my other blog, Murder By 4, so for those who missed it, here it is again.


When I chose to write fiction, I became the dutiful student. I was determined to teach myself how to write a well-crafted book--bought every book I could grab on writing prose, characterization, dialogue, action scenes and so much more. I followed blogs, joined in conversation on forums and asked as many questions as I possibly could about writing and the publishing process without sounding like a total newbie. I later studied the art of book promotion and marketing--another important piece of the pie.

This was all well and good, but no one ever said, “Hey, don’t forget the tax man!” In fact, once I decided to blog on this subject, I looked through several of my reference books. I wasn't surprised to see that none of them mention a word about taxes or record keeping.

With April 15 looming in the not so distant horizon, I spent this entire past weekend organizing my publishing and personal tax information for our accountant. The subject is still fresh on my mind and thus I thought our readers might be interested to know what else I do when I'm not writing. Please keep in mind that although I've taken a couple of college courses in accounting, I’m not a tax guru or an accounting whiz kid--not by a long shot. I pay good money to an excellent accountant to work the magic for me. But I am organized when it comes to tracking information. Please understand that what I’m about to share is based solely on what has worked for me and what I’ve learned along the way.

First, hire an experienced, trust-worthy accountant. Can’t say enough on this one.

Tax Exempt Status

If you haven't already, check into getting tax exempt status. Visit the IRS, do a search on “tax exempt application” and read up on it. Ask your accountant for information or contact your state’s department of revenue to acquire an application. A tax exempt number will allow you to purchase items without paying taxes on them initially. You will, however, need to record your purchases and pay the tax to your state’s department of revenue either quarterly or annually, depending on how your account is set up.

A tax exempt number is also critical if you plan to sell items at locations other than bookstores where you need to bring your own supply of books (libraries, book clubs, etc.). Why? Because like it or not, Uncle Sam requires us to charge sales tax on the items we sell. In return, we're expected to write a check to our state department of revenue for the amount of sales tax collected throughout the quarter/year. If you sell book to a tax-exempt entity like a library, you’ll need to track those sales as well because they’re part of the equation needed to calculate how much tax you owe the state.

Track Expenditures

IMPORTANT: Keep your personal money and your writing revenue/expenditures separate. You'll sleep better at night for it.

Open a checking account to use for the sole purpose of tracking writing related expenditures and revenue. Another good way to track expenditures is to dedicate a credit card for writing expenses. This is critical if you have monthly fees for web server services, pay membership dues online, purchase books, etc., and your invoice will serve as an excellent proof of purchase if you’ve misplaced a receipt.

Set up a file folder and keep every receipt for items purchased relative to writing/publishing. You’ll need the receipts to back up your records in case there are any questions. Print payment acknowledgements when you purchase online. It's better to have more in your file than not enough.

Create a spreadsheet that includes, but is not limited to the following columns:

• Date of purchase

• Supplies (pencils to paper and everything in between.)

• Postage expense

• Travel & lodging expense

• Meals

• Books & publications (reference books, writing magazine subscriptions, etc.) Web development (server fees, etc.)

• Equipment (computers, software, cameras, recording devices, printers, fax, etc.)

• Repairs on equipment (did you need to have that nasty virus removed from your computer? Claim it.)

• Printing expense (bookmarks, forms, stationary, etc.)

• Books purchased from your publisher for resale

• Dues paid to writers organizations and website membership fees

• Promotional fees

• Contest fees

• Clothing expense (Did you buy a new outfit for your book launch signing? It's deductable.)

• Sales incentives (items purchased as giveaway items)

• Long distance phones/fax bills (radio interviews, calls to your publisher, editor, agent, etc.)

• Workshops & conference fees

• Misc. (Often one-time expenditures that don't fit neatly into any of the other categories)

You get the idea, right? You may find other categories to add that fit your situation too. Make sure you total each column vertically and horizontally and that your entries match the dates and amounts on your receipts.

Track your donation/giveaway or gifted items.

If you've purchased books, you undoubtedly gave a few away along with posters, bookmarks, book bags, and other items. Be sure to include the quantity of each item and the cost. Books you've mailed for contests should also be included here. You’d be surprised how quickly this adds up. Keep track of them and their cost.

Track Revenue

This includes royalties and any other money collected.

Keep track of books/items you sell to other tax exempt entities.

I sold a few boxes of books to a couple of local libraries this year. The libraries were tax exempt too and will pay the tax due on the purchase of my books directly to the state department of revenue when they submit their quarterly or annual report. I, on the other hand, had to report the dollar amount I received from them for the books under “Exemptions/Deductions” in my annual report to show the sale. Be sure to always keep photo copies of your report and record of payment of taxes due.

If you’re not yet published, keep receipts of any writing related items you purchase; books, conferences, classes, writing magazine subscriptions, workshops, travel—anything that is intended for the purpose of eventually getting published. Once you are published, you’ll be able to claim all past purchases as long as you have the receipts (this per my accountant.).

Even if you have an accountant to figure all the details of your tax return, you still need to present the information to him or her in an orderly manner. No shoe boxes allowed!

So, do you still think your job as a writer is over when you type, “The End?” Think again!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010: Day 41 Winter Olympics

Ask anyone who knows me, I'm not much for sitting in front of the television to watch sports of any kind except ... the winter olympics.

I LOVE the Winter Olympics! The 21st winter games begin with the opening ceremony from Vancouver, Canada tomorrow, February 12, 7:30 - 9:00 PM. (ET).

Sixteen wonderful days of down16 days of men's and women's downhill, ski jumping, ice skating competitions, luge ... I can't wait! You'll be hard-pressed to pull me away from the television between tomorrow and the closing ceremonies on March 1. 

Here's the NBC schedule for

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2010: Day 40 - I'm Taking a Hike

Wow, 40 days into the new year! No flood, but lots of snow--about 12”-13" now. In fact, it's 7:36 PM, and that humming sound outside my window is our next door neighbor snow blowing our front sidewalks. He’s done it nearly every evening since it began to snow last weekend. I think he secretly likes to do it.

A positive frame of mind certainly is the difference between enjoy a task and having it feel like a chore. Take my edits, for instance. Tonight, I finished editing chapter 17 (for the 3rd or 4th time due to plot changes). That puts me at nearly the midpoint ... again. The problem with making major changes to the manuscript is that no matter how many notes I make or charts I draw, I still have all the old junk in my head battling with anything new I want to write. It’s oh so much nicer it when the writing flies from my head to my fingertips. Right now it feels as if the words are locked up in my head and every door they come to is locked. I’ve been hearing a lot of rattling going on in there lately.

Anyway, I know what’s wrong. It’s no secret. I've read it too many times. The best thing to do is to take a few days, maybe the rest of the week. Maybe two weeks, if I can stand it, to refresh my eyes and open my mind to a new set of possibilities.

Then all will be fine again.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

2010: Day 39 - More Snow & Links to Articles of Interest

A friend sent this picture to me today. The snow isn't that high here, but we are in for another 1-3 inches today, an accumulation of 4-6 tonight with another 1-2 more inches tomorrow with the wind at 25-35 mph. This ... on top of the 9 inches we received last weekend. Hmmm

The edits on chapter 14 turned out better than I expected. When in doubt, I record myself reading it. I don't worry about getting the recording "right" (I hate my voice), but it really helps to hear the words. The next few chapters didn't need much work, but while I rework this next chapter, take a look at some of these links and stories.

Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web:

Worst Mistakes Authors Make:

Trade Backs Thrive in Tough Times:

Libraries and Readers Wade into Digital Lending:

Monday, February 08, 2010

2010: Day 38 - Compound Words

Everyone has his or her stumbling blocks when it comes to writing and proofreading. Mine are compound words. If I'm going to overlook something in my editing, it's going to be the two words that should be one. Here's the ABC of them to start with.


























































































































































































I'll post a few more next week!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

2010: Day 37 - The Turning Point

Last October I attended a four-hour workshop presented by Donald Maass. I’ve sat through a number of conferences and workshops in the past, but it has been a long time since anyone has aspired to write as much as he did that evening.

Here is one snippet from my notes:

Micro Tension:

All books have dialogue, internal dialogue and exposition. If you find yourself skimming over the passages it’s because you don’t need to read what’s there (not a good sign).

Micro tension is something in an event that makes you want to continue to read and you need at least one micro tension on each page.

Action needs tension:

It’s not the action per say (the chase, the fight, the clap of thunder, or runaway train, etc.,) that causes tension. It’s the internal tension and conflicting emotions that make it: Worry vs. confidence. The tension must be inside the POV character.

I worked on a chapter for the past couple of days; changed the opening a bit—tweaked several paragraphs, the usual edits, but this is a pivotal chapter, an important turn of events for Rhonie Lude. She must use her wit to convince a stranger (a person in power) to agree to do something for her. There is no reason in the world for him to agree to anything, but she has to convince him there is.

In spite of the amount of time I’d spent on it, the key moment—the turning point when Rhonie begins to feel some sense of accomplishment was still missing in action. The thread of dialogue was disjointed—battering back and forth between the characters, going nowhere fast.

I had to ask myself three things: Why is she there? What does she need? And what needs to happen in order for her to get it? What are the consequences if she doesn't?

Once I focused in on these four questions, things started to come into focus.

Friday, February 05, 2010

2010: Day 36 The First Winter Snow Storm of the Year

Yup, it's here. All that blue is snow and plenty of it. Thanks to the local TV stations, we knew the storm system was coming so we, like everyone else in the state, went to the market and stocked up on a few things to get us through the weekend (and Superbowl Sunday--go Colts!)

The snow was suppose to have been here by four this morning, but didn't arriver until after ten. The first photograph was taken from my 3rd floor office window at work around 11 AM today. Fridays are usually quiet on campus, but today, it seemed more so than usual--go figure!

By the time I got home, there were at least 4 inches of the white stuff on the grounds. This second photograph is one of our side yard taken at around 4:30 PM. A pair of cardinals were perched on those branches and I have to admit, it was a pretty awesome sight--looked like a greeting card.

I took this shot from my office window at home around 6 PM. That's the light across the street. By now the winds have picked up and the snow is starting to drift. They say to expect five to seven inches by morning and another big storm the first of next week.

 To be  honest, I don't mind the weather as long as I don't have to fight it, drive in it, or have to deal with the ice. SO greatful it's Friday.

I'm looking forward to a good weekend of writing, a Colts victory, and the pizzas I ordered two hours ago.

There's a good tip waiting for the dilivery guy if he can get the order right this time. ;)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

2010: Day 35 - Blogs and Search Engines

What’s so important about search engines? Think about how you use them. When you’re looking for a new chicken casserole recipe, you might type in the search bar, “chicken casserole” and you’ll get more variation of the same dish than you’ll know what to do with.

If someone tries to find you, your book, your series, or anything else you’ve written, the most obvious initial search will be by your name. The number of posts you’ve published, how often your name is mentioned anywhere on the Internet will determine which page your name will first show up on the search engines and how many more pages will follow. Just out of curiosity I Googled my name. The first link was to my website . The next listing under my name was to this blog and the list of posts, reviews, interviews, excerpts, etc., continued for over 27 page.

So what are the key elements to getting a good position on the search engines? 
Blog at least three-four times a week. The more you post, the better your chances will be of positioning yourself/your blog on the search engines. 

When you start a  new blog, aside from writing to everyone on your list of contacts (which is good), make sure your blog or website link is on your signature line of your e-mails and every post you writer other than on your own blog. 

Another easy ways to draw traffic is to exchange links with other bloggers. In Blogger, you have two choices: A link list which is just that, a list of links to your favorite websites or a blog roll. The blog roll gives the link and a snippet of the latest post on that blog. I can't tell you how many Google Alerts I get every day because my blog has shown up on someone's website as a blog roll and someone has followed the link to my blog.

Whenever possible, provide links within your articles to websites, articles, interviews, etc. Here’s why. Most writers I know have set up a Google Alert for their name, each book title, the name of their series, the name of their blog, etc., every time his/her name shows up on a search engine, he/she will get a Google Alert. If they’re like me, they’ll follow it back to your blog and bam!  You have a new visitor.

Here’s a Google Alert I received today for “Marta Stephens Author.”

This was from a virtual book tour I did in December 2008 to promote the release of “The Devil Can Wait.” By the way, all the links to that tour are listed in my December 2008 archives here on this blog. The funny thing is, I’d never seen this site before which leads me to my next point.

Whatever you post, make sure it’s something that you won’t mind reading 10-20 years later, because once it’s “out there,” it’s there forever.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

2010 - Day 34 E-Book Wars: The First Major Battle

The following article was written by S. W. Vaughn, posted on Murder By 4 on 2/2/10 and reprinted here with her permission. Please go to MB4 to read additional comments.

So this weekend, two huge businesses in the publishing world launched the first offensive in the war that's been simmering over e-book rights, pricing and other e-issues ever since big publishers realized there might be something to this e-book thing. The combatants? Macmillan, one of the Big 6 in New York, and retail giant Amazon, unarguably the largest online bookseller. The issue? Pricing.

One major concern publishers have latched onto regarding e-books is the belief that a low price point will devalue hardcovers, and by extension, their authors' work. Amazon, being a retailer permitted to set their own prices, has consistently refused to set e-book prices higher than $9.99.

On Thursday, the Macmillan president met with Amazon executives to discuss their new policy, effective in March, concurrent with the deal they've already signed with Apple for their new iPad device. Macmillan proposed to set e-book prices for new releases at $12.99 to $14.99, with the caveat that they'll lower the prices over time, and have e-books available at mass market paperback prices when the MMP versions are released. Amazon disagreed.

On Friday, Amazon removed the Buy buttons from all Macmillan titles on their site - including hardcover and paperback versions. There are reports that Amazon also deleted sales information and sample chapters of all Macmillan titles that were downloaded by customers onto Kindle devices.

What does this mean for the future of e-rights? The only thing that's clear at this point: no one really knows.

Here's agent Nathan Bransford's take on the issue.

Pro e-book author J. A. Konrath weighs in here.

And from a reader's perspective: Jane at Dear Author.

My take? I'm confused. Mightily. There's no question that things are going to change, but at this point there are too many possibilities to call the direction. Will the iPad, a device that has most tech-savvy e-book consumers feeling "underwhelmed" (as Sarah at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books spells out here), prove to be true competition for the Kindle? Will the rest of the Big 6 publishers follow Macmillan's lead, and either force Amazon to raise prices or pull their titles from the world's biggest online bookseller?

The only opinion I've truly formed so far is this: I don't believe a lower price point for e-books is going to destroy hardcover sales. I have several reasons for believing this. One: A good portion of hardcover sales are to libraries - and libraries are not going to replace hardcovers with e-versions. Two: Readers who make hardcover purchases do so because they like hardcovers. They want the durability, and even the prestige, of owning a "better" version of a book by their favorite authors.

And three: Those who read a lot of e-books, or almost exclusively e-books, do not buy and have rarely bought hardcovers in the past, and will not start purchasing hardcovers if e-book versions are not available. If you own an e-reader, chances are good that you read a LOT of books. That means you don't habitually spend $15 to $25 per title. Before e-books, you purchased mass market paperbacks. You were never part of the hardcover equation.

So, listen here, New York publishing and Amazon: STOP PANICKING. There's enough ice cream - er, slices of the e-book pie - for everyone here. It's time to embrace the future. Can't we all just get along?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

2010: Day 33 - Research: How Much is Enough?

© Marta Stephens 2010 all rights reserved

Several years ago, while I sat in a college writing class, the professor instructed us to “write what you know.” What student/writer hasn’t heard those dreaded words? I remember thinking if that were the case, I would never write.

I have what most would consider a normal life; married, raised two great children, went to college, have hobbies, and have been gainfully employed all my adult life. But this could be anyone’s life. If I stuck to the “rule,” I’d have nothing to write about -- nothing anyone would want to read, that is. However, I do have a passion for a good suspenseful mystery, the page-turner that yanks you to the edge of your seat, grabs you by the throat, and leaves you breathlessly begging for more. “Write what you know.” The words popped into my head again as I typed the opening paragraph of SILENCED CRY.

The reality is, most fiction writers I know have never been involved in the type of situations they force their characters into (murder, theft, espionage, smuggling, kidnappings, imprisonment, etc.). So where does a writer start? Research. Simply put, he or she owes it to his or her readers to create a story that is absolutely believable.

The question is how much research is needed? The answer: As much as it takes to make the story plausible. The problem is that research is a two-sided sword. Not enough and the story will lack the essential truths needed to make it real. Too much and the story will sag with excess information.

A while back I read a book that held me until the last three chapters. After that, the bottom fell out of the plot when the suspended disbelief disintegrated into a convenient ending. The story wasn’t a police procedural, but a police investigation was implied. Yet critical evidence at the scene was overlooked which indicated to me the author had not thoroughly researched crime scene procedurals. Not that an entire chapter should have been dedicated to the investigation performed at the scene, but the oversight was glaring. A crucial piece of evidence that any crime scene investigator would have immediately bagged from a murder scene was never mentioned by the police. The omission felt like a ploy to fool the reader into thinking the guilty was innocent. It worked, but the tactic backfired because it also left this reader knowing the author hadn’t done his homework and rushed the ending. The real crime was that he told the reader who was guilty without giving the reader an opportunity to see the evidence mound and draw his or her own conclusions. Isn’t that what mysteries are all about? A gradual build up of suspense, peppered with clues and followed by a WOW ending?

This is an example where a bit more research, the addition of a few words could have changed the complexity of the entire novel and would have made me love the book.

Research doesn’t mean the writer must force or dump every bit of information he or she discovers into the story. Only a portion of the research, that which gives a scene meaning, should be used. This means that an author may read pages of text from several sources to ensure the accuracy of a single sentence to give the work a flavor of authenticity -- make it believable.

Monday, February 01, 2010

2010: Day 32

February first. Can't believe how fast the weeks have flown by. In October, I told a friend of mine that I'd have "Shroud of Lies" edited and ready for her to give it a critique after the first of the year (meaning January). Little did I know the direction the story would take and how much would happen since that Saturday afternoon when I spoke with  her. Edits, edits, and more edits. I'm nowhere near ready for anyone to read the manuscript yet. Just when I think I'm "done" I discover an interesting twist or find something  else I need to add or change. Case in point, last week, I decided my opening line needed to be stronger so I changed it and asked my good friend Kim Smith to read it and see what she thought. "Not a hook," she said. And then she pointed out 12-14 insidences where I referred to the character's financial situation in the first nine pages of the manuscript. I can't remember the exact quote, but I believe she said something about beating the reader over the head with it. :)

My first thought was "Ugh" and to be honest, I was beginning to worry that I'd just muddied the waters with all of the changes, but I trust her judgement so I worked on the opening paragraph and the rest of the chapter several times throughout the course of as many days.

Eventually, I got it to work and for now, I'm happy. Is that the final edit for chapter 1? I doubt it, but I'm not concerned, upset, or stressed about any of this. I've continued to read through the remaining chapters and look for inconsistencies--so far, so good.

Writing is a process.  I can't possibly know everything that's going to happen from beginning to end when I first outline a manuscript. I can't promise that my initial ideas for the plot will be good enough to continue throughout the book, nor can I predict how the characters will behave and change the course of events (only writers understand this). So, in order to maintain my sanity, all I can do is approach my writing with an open mind to change. Probably a good thing, because the one thing I can promise is that there will be many more before it's all over.