glitter_n_gore: (mia)
Results of the BluRay experiment: Nope. Not surprised really, but I *had* to try.

Next, since I started this blog as a way to keep folks posted on my adventures in writing and trying to get published, let's get back to that for a minute. It's been a very productive year for me--I had two articles published in the actual paper last year, which was my first print publication ever; and earlier this year I sent in a manuscript to a publisher I've had my eye on for a while. I'm not done submitting--going through the most recent edition of Writers Market and a few other places to see how gets it next--but this one's my top choice. Fingers crossed!

That second adventure forced me to actually write and finish a synopsis for the first time ever, which was an accomplishment in itself. Here's the worksheet that helped me do that: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

I've seen dozens of different How To Synopsis type books, websites, workshops, etc., and this is the only one that's really helped. It's excellent, so definitely check it out if you're in Synopsis Hell and need some pointers.

So, here's what I'm working on now: Revising another project that's set in the same fictional universe as the one I submitted. Not a sequel, but a completely separate story with entirely different characters and a different target audience. Like the previous story, this one has been drafted to completion, perused by my trusted beta reader, and combed over with notes. So this is my (hopefully) final draft before I send it to a publisher/agency and cross more fingers on its behalf.

I want to share with you the method I've been using for my revisions lately, because I only just started doing things this way a few months ago, and it's been the most helpful, and the most likely to actually get me through to the last page. I'm sure you've heard this before, but every writer is different, and this might not necessarily work for you, but it's certainly working for me, and I'm excited about it.

What I do is take what I call the "Master" file of the manuscript--in this case, the Word file of the last one I revised back when I went over it with my beta's notes and mine. I keep that open in one window. In another window, I have a new document, which I name "Title_Draft X" based however many it is by that point. (For me, it's usually three or four.) I copy around 10 pages of text from the "Master" file (or a chapter's worth, depending on the chapter length), paste it into the "Draft X" file, and go over every line one more time. Sometimes I cut things out. Sometimes I add. Sometimes I move lines around or fluff up/trim down the descriptive paragraphs. But every time, I'm only dealing with those ten pages. Period. Then when I get to the end, I write [SEE PAGE X] at the bottom so I know where to pick up again in the "Master" file when I'm ready to do the next ten pages. Save, back up, repeat.

And that's it. I do that until I'm at the end of the manuscript. Sounds simple, right? It kind of is, and it kind of isn't. I do sometimes find a scene that will work better earlier in the story, and when I do I mark that spot with [INSERT SCENE FROM PAGE X], *or* I lift the whole scene from the text and plop it into Notepad until I'm done with those ten pages, and plop it back in when I'm done.

It sounds somewhat tedious. And it is. Revising is the least fun part of the writing process, especially for us pansters.* Because there's this bug in my brain that says, "But we've written it already. We know how this one ends. Let's play with the NEXT one instead." I write to find out how the story ends. If I know how it ends, I lose interest. So yeah, this part of it is tedious. But working on it in small chunks like this? I don't know, for some reason it just works.

*For those not in the know: "Pansters" are writers who start at the beginning and just write until they finish the story. As opposed to writing an outline and working from that. Outlining kills the creativity DEAD for me, every single time. I'm never doing it again.
glitter_n_gore: (stargate snark)
As I've started to submit more frequently, and to a greater number of places, I've run into an previously unforeseen quagmire: formatting woes.

Now, I've known for a long time that it's very important to read all submission guidelines carefully, even if you've submitted to a given magazine/publisher/agency before. And if you don't already know this, you need to! Overlooking something in the guidelines can knock your story out of the queue fast as anything. I've worked (briefly) as a slush reader, by the way, and reading submissions that ignore the guidelines can get really annoying. (Block. Text. By which I mean, complete failure to break paragraphs, ever. Please do not be that guy. If the slush reader is mildly dyslexic, like me, you will make them cry. AND they will pass on your story.)

There are certain details I didn't know I'd have to deal with, most of which I fixed by studying Standard Manuscript Format. Most guidelines tell you to use Standard Manuscript Format when submitting your pieces. This read-along example is a HUGE help. Print it out, bookmark it, staple it to the wall next to your computer--whatever you need to do to keep it handy.

Here are a few things I now know to watch out for... )

This is not an extensive list of Do's and Don't's, by the way. Just some of things I found myself tripping over and therefore needed to drill into my own head.
glitter_n_gore: (stargate snark)
So, that experiment I was trying with outlining versus not--I've discovered, now with a more definite sense of certainty, that outlining in my case is a very, very bad idea. I could not get through one chapter once I got to the actual writing part on that project. Not one chapter.

However, I'm not sorry I tried it, because that's useful to know about myself I guess. It's really better in my case if I just write. And I'm not giving up on that story entirely--just can't deal with it right now, so it's going into the Trunk until further notice.

Anyways, what with my experiment and a number of other things going awry, this is what I have on the table as of now:

The Candelabrum: Revised, reformatted, and sent away again. Now waiting for a response. Wish me luck!

The Fire Worker: Up to 43k, and working out some revisions in my head for when I go back for a second-draft sweep. I say "in my head" because I've been trying not to monkey around with manuscripts at all until that first draft is completely finished. It's not easy. With the pantsing thing especially, I inevitably wind up with a number of plot holes that need filling in once I go back, and once I work out what they are I want to fix them immediately. Which I will, eventually, but the more important thing is finishing the draft. If it's complete, and has an ending, even if that ending winds up changing, then I have something I can work with.

Now, since those two are the only "current" projects I have, I feel myself flailing. Two projects, one of which is a short story that I'm for all intents and purposes "done" with at least for the moment, feels way too low. As anyone who's followed this blog for a significant length of time probably knows by now, I generally keep at least three or four going at once.

Which means I have a couple of options here--I can feed one of the plot bunnies (I always have a gracious plenty of those); OR I could take out one of my previous manuscripts and give it a good, clean overhaul and put it back in the queue. I'm thinking of one in particular that I think has loads of potential, but got put on hold once I reached the synopsis-writing stage and uncovered a number of plotting oversights that needed fixing. It's been resting for about a year. Maybe it's time to dust it off and polish it up.

I'm hesitant to do both until I get that draft finished. A girl has to have boundaries, after all.


Last book read: Wondrous Strange, by Lesley Livingston

Currently on: The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro
glitter_n_gore: (gambit)
Biggest news on the actual writing front is this: "The Candelabrum" has earned me my second personalized rejection. Yay! And I do mean that sincerely. Of course, I would prefer an acceptance, but this is the first place I sent this story out to, and it was both complimentary and just detailed enough to let me know where to go next.

So! As usual, I'm being attacked by plot bunnies left and right. Except this time, instead of ignoring them all, I'm trying to keep them neutralized a little differently: outlining.

As some of you probably know, I'm normally a panster when it comes to writing. Meaning, I prefer not to outline my plot, but start from scratch and just keep going until I get to The End. The reason being I tend to lose interest in a story once I know how it's going to end. Even if it's not fully fleshed out, if I have the basic structure "finished," my writer brain decides it's done with it and wants to move on to the next Shiny New Idea. Given the amount of plot bunnies clamoring for attention at all times, you can probably imagine how this goes for me.

However, also given the amount of plot bunnies I wind up with, I can see how outlining might actually be beneficial. I've just outlined a complete novel start to finish (dark, alternate universe YA--working title "The Light Bringers") in about a week, give or take. A fully fleshed out novel takes a lot longer than a week to write. But now, see, that particularly bunny has a home and is no longer nibbling at me. So perhaps this is a good way to keep them satisfied and still have time to work on my major projects in the meantime.

The question is will these unwritten stories still hold my interest enough for me to finish them fairly? Time will tell. This is an experiment. (There's a reason I decided to go with the Gambit icon for this post.) I'll see how it goes on this one for now, and I'll keep you posted as usual.

Last book read: Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House.

Currently on: Gail Carriger's Soulless, Book 1 of the Parasol Protectorate.
glitter_n_gore: (chiaki)
Egads! February's almost over already. How'd that happen??

But it's not quite over yet, and my fellow Women in Horror have been quite busy. Here's what the rest of my Hounds have been up to:

Diane Dooley posted this interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf, author of several short stories, including "My First Breath," which appears in the Ellen Datlow anthology, Blood and Other Cravings. If I haven't mentioned this here before, Ellen Datlow is my favorite horror anthologist, and deserves a mention on her own.

Ms. Dooley also put together this helpful index of some of the other bloggers and participants in this year's festivities--including yours truly!

Sara Jayne Townsend has two blog entries to commemorate the month: Part 1 discusses the traditionally male focus of the genre, and the perception that women just don't do the horror thing; Part 2 is a roundup of some of her favorite horror writers.

Lastly, horror writer Foinah Jameson talks about the difference between fear and viscera, and the importance of gallows humor here.

As for myself, I have submitted "The Candelabrum" to the first magazine on my list. (Help! Help!) That's the most exciting writerly thing I've been up to lately, but I will keep y'all posted on any further developments.
glitter_n_gore: (Default)
First, an update on my progress, now that November is nearly over:

My two complete short stories, "Doppelganger" and "Early Risers," have been submitted and subsequently rejected. Moving on to the next markets for each now.

My two novel-sized WIPs, "Demigeists" and the expanded version of "Early Risers," are at 11,000 and 5,000 words, respectively. Not quite where I wanted to be right now, but slow and steady.

My in-progress short story, "The Candelabrum," is almost finished at 3,000 words, and I'm now struggling with whether I want to kill off my MC entirely, or let her go with a lifelong cloud of guilt hanging over her. It's a toss-up. I'm one scene from finished. (Maybe one and a half.)

So, about short stories versus novels--the submission process isn't wildly different, but different enough that I've discovered some pros and cons of each. Since short stories are what I'm submitting at the moment, I'll go with that process.

Pros:

-No query-writing. At most, magazines, ezines and anthologies ask for a brief cover letter, which is so simple it feels like cheating. All you need is something like, "Dear Editor, enclosed is My Story, it is X words long and in X genre. Thank you for reading!" And if it's a paper submission, an SASE enclosed as well. That's it.

-No synopsis. I feel I don't need to explain this one.

-Lower printer/ink costs. Because they're, well, shorter. Less paper, you see.

Cons:

-Slower response times. This took me by surprise, actually, but many magazines and ezines keep you waiting for a matter of months. The longest I've seen is a projected 10 month wait time. On the other hand, the shortest was just two weeks, so maybe this isn't as bad as I imagine it to be.

-No simultaneous submissions. With rare exceptions, what this means is you stay waiting with one story in the queue, and until you hear back from that publisher, you can't send it anywhere else. This might be why the wait time feels slower to me, since you aren't hearing back from multiple places on the same manuscript like you would with novels and agents.

The lack of synopsis is a HUGE plus. But so far, it hasn't gotten me picked up by anyone yet.

Onward!
glitter_n_gore: (underworld)
Happy almost-weekend, folks!

I have one more rejection under my belt, and now all but two of the queries I sent out have responses of some kind. Them's pretty good odds, and a very quick turnaround, which makes me happy, even though all I have to show for it is a "maybe." (So far.)

More doors will open once I get this synopsis hammered out. I've pared it down to four pages. It needs to be shorter. It needs more voice. I haven't gone overboard with character-naming, and I've trimmed out a lot of scenes. It's almost down to the bare essentials, and once it's as good as I can make it, it'll go into the ringer for polishing, and then hit the submission process.

My new goal, because I seem to respond well to goals with dates on them: Have 6 submission packages, synopsis included, in the mail by March 31st. It's coming right up, but the plan is to have this polished by the end of next week. After that, it's just a matter of double-checking individual guidelines and putting stuff in the mail. No problem, right? (Deep breaths.)

So, that's what's going on with "The Carrion Girl."

In order to keep myself sane, and to keep the Work to Fun ratio nice and even, I've decided to feed one of the plot bunnies. This is the story based on Sleeping Beauty that I was playing around with a while ago. It took quite a different turn than I originally envisioned, but I like it. I'm calling it "Lucid" for now, as in lucid dreaming, and it's a young adult horror/urban fantasy. I'm still fuzzy on the difference between those two sub-genres, but it's dark and weird and all my characters are teenagers. I have 7,000 words so far. (Fifteen pages.) And I'm attempting to format it correctly from the get-go this time, so I don't have to waste all that time reformatting before I submit it anywhere.

Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (Default)
Did you know that February is National Women in Horror Recognition Month? Because it is. I am watching the Oscars right now, and couldn't be more tickled to see so many genre films in major categories this year. That's just awesome. I haven't seen Black Swan yet, but I sure hope Natalie Portman gets to take home that Best Actress award.

As for me, I officially achieved my resolution this week! I have exactly six queries out to literary agents, which is what I said I'd do by March 1st, so I'm technically early. (Yay!) I still have more to send, but not until I get that synopsis hammered into perfection. I have a draft, so to speak, of said synopsis, but it's just brain vomit at this point and needs serious polishing before I can show it to a professional and be able to look myself in the face.

I have heard back from exactly three of the agencies I sent stuff out to. Two of them said "No," which of course is fine because it's expected at this point in the process. One of them, however, one of the BIG ones, and a super-top-top choice for me personally, asked to see my full manuscript. I flipped the hell out when I saw that request--I'd prepared myself for a sea of "No's," and maybe a request for a partial, but not this, at least not so early. I went spazzing around the office, telling everyone, "GUYS, THEY WANT TO READ MY BOOK!!" at the same time trying to remind myself that I haven't actually gotten an agent yet, they just want to look at the work and see what they think of it. There is still nothing set in stone at this point, and anything could happen.

But, guys, they wanna read my book!!

That's the big news right now, so there's not a whole lot else to say. I did start working on another one of my WIPs. It's going in a totally different direction than I thought it would, but the good news is I have an end in sight. That doesn't always happen to me, but having a conclusion to write towards sometimes helps. Fingers crossed, folks.

My goals for this week are to wrap up that synopsis and get more queries out. Wish me luck!
glitter_n_gore: (stargate snark)
Happy Humpday!

Here is my progress thus far on the submission package for The Carrion Girl: I have the first fifty pages printed, as per the guidelines for one of my snail mail agencies; the query is now entering its third draft, and getting juicier by the minute (I hope); the manuscript itself is almost fully reformatted to the standard specifications (double-spaced, courier new 12 point font, my name and the title at the header and page numbers at the footer, etc.); and I'm just a handful of chapters away from being finished with the synopsis.

What I seem to be struggling with the most query-wise is wanting to hook whoever reads it, but also not wanting to spoil anything. In other words, I'm thinking of it like a book-blurb , which you're supposed to hold back for. One of the pieces of (sometimes conflicting) advice I've gotten concerning queries is that you should do that--write them as if they're book blurbs, like the thing you see on the back flap, to get people to read it. However, with a query, it's a little different. You're trying to get someone interested in buying the book who will then either shop it around to publishers (agencies) or publish it for you (publishers). Depending on who you're querying. Anyways, the query is really not where you want to hold back--whatever's unique and exciting about the book, you have it put it out there. What's screwing me up is that the unique, exciting thing about The Carrion Girl is a very big plot twist. It's revealed gradually, so this isn't something that I'd put on the back cover (which I will eventually have to write as well, assuming it sells).

It's a dilemma.

So instead of using the Book Blurb model of query-writing, I'm going instead with the Three Questions:

1) What does your MC (main character) want?

2) What does s/he have to do to get it?

3) What happens if s/he fails?

These are the things I'm trying to touch on, and the answers span the entire book--not just the first few chapters, which is what they'll be reading in the submission package once I send it out.

Bottom line, the goal with the query is to entice whoever's reading it to want more. A few chapters, for example. Then the full manuscript. Then, if they like the manuscript, the offer of their services to get it out to the general public and get it on a shelf.

So, I'm still hammering it out. I'm getting closer to my deadline, so this is worrying me slightly, however I also feel like I'm closer to having it right than I was before, and it's becoming more fun than work again. So this is a good thing.

Onwards!

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