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Posts Tagged ‘revision’

female-hand-writing-red-pen-white-background-35404047Well, the proof of my novel arrived, and for the past week, I’ve been combing through the pages to spot details that needed adjusting. Marked in red ink with the top corner of the page folded for easy locating, I noted missing punctuation, single-word changes, reversal of publisher line-editing efforts, and the return of several paragraphs dropped somewhere along the way.

This past Sunday morning, I drove the proof to my publisher’s home and we reviewed my editing requests, plus font size and format, possible reduction of pages by removing the space between lines, bookmark design, and adjustment of back cover blurb that currently gives away too much of the mystery.

So many details before making the commitment to print a supply of books for my personal sales at a local print shop! At some point in the near future, my novel will also be registered with Amazon as both an e-book and their print-on-demand version.  When that happens, I’ll provide the link for those of you who are interested in reading my story!

The road to first-novel publication has been long and educational, but eminently interesting along the way!

 

 

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A_Woman_Reading_Papers_At_Her_DeskIt’s no surprise that the lady helping me self-publish my first novel has gotten sidetracked with other projects and life itself.

We lost about three weeks in our timeline, but are now back on track. She provided me with the formatted manuscript, and included her own edits for the first half.

When I re-read my story, I found about a dozen places that needed to be returned to my own voice. She agreed to make the adjustments with very little resistance, but brought up two scenes that didn’t sit right with her. I saw her point, and have provided a revamp to take care of her concerns.

And so I’m waiting for her to get back to me with her second half edits, which I will then review and make further adjustments if needed.

In the meantime, I approached a recently-opened bookstore in a nearby town to ask about scheduling my book launch in their upstairs space. Before they will discuss that possibility, their buyer needs a ‘readers copy’ of my novel to determine if they will stock my novel in the local author section. If that decision is positive, then the events lady will discuss a possible book launch.

So many details, but I’m getting close!

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cartoon lady with pencil and notepadWell, I re-worked chapters 38-41 of my story before returning the file to my editor Sunday night. Although I’ve reviewed and tweaked each page too many times to count, I’m still finding verbs that need to be upgraded, two sentences that will be strengthened if combined, and paragraphs that must be re-sequenced to make sense.

Despite the agonizing slowness of the editing process, I can’t tell you how pleased I am with my editor’s suggestions. She asks hard questions about a character’s thought process, or the relationship between one character and another, or a detail that seems to have changed from a previous chapter. Very little gets by her.

All I have to do is bang my head against the wall until I’m inspired.

My editor should be returning the file by mid-week. I’ll review her comments about what I submitted, and move on to review the next few chapters.

Oh, before I forget, I’m meeting with my publisher on Wednesday to design the cover art… how exciting!

 

 

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revision by handThe editing process is taking longer than I anticipated, but I’m not complaining.

My manuscript is emailed back and forth between my desktop and my editor Ellen in New Hampshire. Although I sometimes overrule one of her suggestions, for the most part, her comments to invent a better story are dead on. My characters are gaining depth, the plot line is gaining traction.

We manage to fine-tune several chapters each week. If we stay on track, we’ll finish this part of the self-publishing route by early June. Although my story will be available as an e-book and print-on-demand from Amazon, I will also print a quantity of soft covers, hopefully in time to sell at the Cape Cod Writers Conference in early August.

In the meantime, I’m re-writing the blurb for the inside flap and working with Stephanie at Riverhaven Books in Whitman, MA, to design the cover art.

I have to say…this is fun!

 

 

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hands on keyboardSeveral weeks ago, I purchased ten hours of editing and met my first-ever editor via phone. We discussed the level of editing I was expecting from her, and she explained how to use the “Track Changes” feature of MS WORD.

She emailed my first two chapters with not only comments to deepen characters or clarify a scene, but line editing for minor punctuation and grammar corrections. Time used: 3.5 hours.

When I panicked that my ten hours was being used up so quickly for such a small portion of the novel, she explained that she wanted me to see what a complete edit would include. That at some point, line editing would be necessary before going to print or e-book.

The next three chapters arrived with comments only, using another 2.25 hours.

Although I’m very pleased with her suggestions, and have no doubt that my story will be improved with her input, I’m thinking I’ll tackle my own line editing after we finish fine-tuning the chapter details.

 

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hands on laptop…my road to self-publication that is.

Riverhaven Books forwarded an analysis of my story by one of their editors.

First the good news:

The author has a well-conceived mystery. There are very good twists and turns, especially at the end. The writing is straight-forward and follows a logical structure. There will be little required in terms of correcting punctuation or grammar.

And now the not-as-good news:

However, I think there is developmental work to be done. I would recommend that the author work on character development, backstory, subtlety in dialogue, and that she check with law enforcement professionals on some of the legal practices described, as some don’t ring true.

I can either try to develop these improvements on my own, or hire this same editor to work with me. Her 10-hour contract costs $30 per hour…sounds like a good investment to me!

I’ll keep you posted as we move along!

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waitingMy intentions were good. Two contests for unpublished authors loomed in front of me, but both required that my story be completed before I send off the required number of pages to each. Not a total surprise. What if they picked me??? I’d have to submit the entire manusript without delay!

And, so, I’ve been working with determined dedication to finish that final revision…dump the overwriting, be sure the strongest verbs are in place, eliminate those nasty buggers ‘just’ and ‘only’ and ‘then’ .

When I logged onto one of the contest websites…which had opened on May 1, and would not close until the end of June…I got a sinking feeling when I read the notice that the contest is closed! They had received the maximum number of submissions in a little more than a week. Slam, bam, thank you, ma’m.

Imagine my disappointment.

However, I did not dispair! On Friday, I submitted my pages to the second contest via registered mail.

I’d be happy to end up in the finalist pile. But ecstatic to be chosen as the winner.

Cross your fingers! Cross your toes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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hands on keyboardThis past weekend, I attended Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America, this conference is always inspiring, but not without its disappointments to a budding author.

First, there was the ‘First Page Critique’ session after lunch on Saturday. When my first page was read, only one agent defended my efforts because she has seen my progress. But neither she nor the other four agents raised a hand to indicate they would read further.

Second, my pitch to an agent, hoping to hook her into asking for my first three chapters, fell on deaf ears. This could be my fault, because I decided to change my genre from mystery to romantic suspense after the pitch practice session on Friday night. I’m going back to mystery genre.

Third time was a charm! My manuscript evaluation was provided by Ray Daniel, a Boston author. He pointed out that although my writing is good, and my verbs are strong, I’m asking my reader to hang in with me for a third of the novel before we find out that there is a body. Over the months, I’ve changed my opening scene too many times to count, but Ray’s words made sense to me. I finally got it!

So I flew out of bed early on Sunday morning, rushed to my computer and opened a new file. I pulled Chapter 12 forward, did a bit of tweeking and printed off a new page one. When I arrived at the Dedham Hilton for the final day of the conference, I bumped into Ray within minutes and asked what he thought of the new first page. He gave it a thumbs up…yea!

My writing days will now include not only regular revision, but a re-sequencing of my chapters to move my suspects into the middle.

But, oh,  how exciting this is!

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imagesWell, today was the deadline to submit 15 pages for a manuscript evaluation at the upcoming Crime Bake Conference, sponsored by Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

After several revisions, I managed to condense the first 13 pages of my story to end with Chapter 2 where the initial hook hopefully sinks in. The first page was a cover sheet, and the second a one-page synopsis. How difficult was that to write??? All the broad strokes on one page!

My submission will be assigned to an agent, an editor, or a published mystery writer for evaluation. I’ll find out who when I register on November 8.

The two of us will find a quiet corner in the Hilton Hotel and spend fifteen minutes together. She will tell me what she thinks of my story and my writing. It will be a nerve-wracking experience, but a necessary evil. After sending my story through two separate writing groups, eliminating my original opening chapters and many unnecessary scenes, plus rewriting the first page a gazillion times, I can only hope that my evaluator thinks my story is in pretty good shape.

During this conference, I will also pitch my book to the attending agents. Maybe I’ll finally get a bite!

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phrasesEver since I stepped onto the pathway to write a novel, I’ve never stopped reading or listening to stories written by the many talented authors we now enjoy. Whenever I hear a phrase that rings true to my characters or my plotline, I jot them down for possible use in my own story. I can usually picture the exact scene and paragraph in my manuscript where a particular phrase will fit perfectly.

At the various conferences and workshops I’ve attended over the years, several class leaders have advised that this “borrowing” is an accepted practice, and that the original creator of the phrase should be flattered!

However, in the interest of not plagiarizing another author’s efforts, I strive to alter the actual words while keeping the spirit of the phrase intact.  Here are a few examples of recent gems:

“She drew a shaky breath”; “her voice vibrated with rage”; “he eased off the gas pedal”, “she cast a suspicious look”; “he nodded her into a chair”; “she depressed the disconnect button”.

I will continue to listen for other delightful phrases that have potential to transform my story into a more textured and interesting read.

 

 

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