Saturday, July 24, 2010

Blog Chain - Revise Me a Story

This round's blog chain comes from the FABULOUS Sarah who, I might add, stayed up with me into the wee hours last night for an EPIC brainstorming session! Let me just say, that girl could write a book in a night! Anyway--she asks the question:

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?

I hate to revise. Well, at least, I used to. It always seemed like such a daunting task. I'd whine about making the changes with an "I can't" attitude. But now that I've found my revisionist groove, I don't feel that stress any more. Revising is part of the process and there are many voices chiming in, helping your novel to become a complete and finished product.

I do like to revise while I write. Sarah and I have a tendency to crit chapters as we write them and the rhythm works well for us. But my other crit partners like to have that finished MS in their hands and that works great too! Different methods=different results=all good! While I'm writing, I like to go back and read the previous chapter. I usually don't make any major changes, I'll just polish it a bit. After I've typed THE END, I know I should wait the obligatory 4-6 weeks, but let me tell you, it's HARD for me. I'm not a waiter--like--at all. I'd get so excited to "get the book out there" that I'd jump the gun. And more than once, I've suffered for my haste.

Wait. Do it, people. I may not be any good at it, but I know the benefits. Revise, let the MS sit and send it crit partners. Revise again. Shelf the book for a while--three weeks is even better than none!--and revise again. Once you get that draft to fighting weight, send it out there. And yes, be prepared to revise again, and again, and again!

Kate's response to this question came before mine, and Sandra's will pop up tomorrow. If you want to read about the entire chain's approach to revisions, Start from Sarah's original post and work your way through! Unless, you've got some revising to do! ;)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Climbing the Mountain and Facing Fear

My kids have been on my case lately. I think they're tired of my stressed-out attitude. To take my mind off of my worries, we've been having some adventures. Now, with little ones, an adventure can be as small as a walk to the park. But when your kids are 13 and 20... well... they expect a little more out of the experience. Today we took a break from the lake, tennis, movie marathons and short hikes behind our house for a larger-scale endeavor. This rock is known to the locals as "Thinking Point" and it's a steep 30 minute hike to get there.

I hate to admit that I'm not in very good shape. I'm going to be coaching in less than a month and I need to get my ass in gear! "Are you okay mom?" The kids asked as we hiked. "Yep," I said, panting just a little. "You wanna quit?" They asked. "NO." Was I tired? Sure. Was the thought of a cushiony couch a welcome distraction? You know it! But I signed up for an adventure, damn it, and I wasn't going home until I'd climbed to the top of that rock.

To say I've been distracted, cranky, and a bit crazy lately is an understatement. Being on submission is a million times more stressful than querying, and this week, the stress really caught up to me. "Are you okay, now, Amanda?" My agent asks. "Yep," I type back, embarrassed for the neurotic email I sent her. "You wanna do those revisions?" My crit partners ask. "YES." Am I worried about my subs? Um, yeah. Was the thought of editorial notes and further revisions a frightening thought. Yes, yes, and YES! But I signed up for this adventure too, damn it, and I'm not turning back until I see that publishing contract in my hands.

When we got to the top of the rock, I walked out to the very tip and took this pic. The red dot on the road is my car. As I looked down, I had that moment of fear where your breath stalls in your chest and your limbs just absolutely refuse to move. One misstep and I'd be a goner. Just like my submissions. One plot point, one similarity to another book on their list and my hopes and dreams tumble to the spiky granite below. But when I took a step back and looked at the magnificent view all around me I realized that the fear was worth the reward. The hard work hiking the steep trail, the vertigo, all of it was worth the view.

Just like my journey to publication, the hours spent writing and re-writing, editing and revising, refusing to quit not matter the rejections has been well worth the journey so far. I'm standing on the edge of that virtual cliff right now, my breath stalling in my chest as I wait. But I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It might be next month, or next year before I hear the news I'm waiting to hear. Until then, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the beautiful view.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Power of Belief - A Guest Post With Author Christine Fonseca

I'm so excited to have author Christine Fonseca as a guest on my blog today! She's a talented writer (in both the fiction and non-fiction arenas) and always there for me when I need a pick-up. We've been talking a lot about the road to publication and what it takes to make it. Her post today literally brought tears to my eyes. Take it away, Christine!

Before I get into today’s guest post, I want to take a minute to thank Amanda for having me. Amanda and I met on the interwebz a year ago or so. Since that time, we’ve belonged to the same Blog Chain group and traveled similar circles. She’s hung out on my blog sharing an interview or her words of wisdom. Most recently, she’s been one of my go-to peeps to swap an idea or two with. Amanda is a great writer with a fabulous future. I am so excited to see what exciting things happen for her.

Which brings me to today’s post – The Power of Belief.

I stumbled across the following quote while wasting time researching on the interwebz.

“Believe in yourself and there will come a day when others will have NO choice but to believe with you.” - Cynthia Kersey

The words struck a chord with me, reaching deep into some unspoken place.

...believe in yourself…believe in yourself

The words wrapped around me, seeping into my skin. The missing ingredient over the past few weeks. The differentiating piece between success and failure.


We can all agree that it takes good writing, good timing and a little luck to make it in this business. But it takes something else as well.

The infallible belief that YOU WILL MAKE IT.

That belief will carry you through the hard times, because yes – there will be hard times.

And that belief will force you to do what is necessary for success.

It will force you to improve your craft, create new stories, and revise until your eyes bleed.

Belief in yourself and your success will force you to find honest – brutally honest – crit partners. It will force you to see the stories in a new light, force you to jump into the deep end of the query pool as often as necessary to find that agent or make that sale.

These actions will make the world will stand up and believe in your success as much as you do.
One of my writerly buds used to tell me to Dream Big. I have a new saying…

“Dream big and have the strength to believe it will happen.”

Do you believe?

Christine writes nonfiction and fiction for teens and adults. Her upcoming release, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students (Prufrock Press, October 2010) deals with the often turbulent world of giftedness. When she is not working as a school psychologist helping adolescents deal with the transition to adulthood, or playing Band Hero with her husband and daughters, she can be found sipping a skinny vanilla latte at her favorite coffee house, writing her next book.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blog Chain - The Inner Sanctum

I'm back for this round of the blog chain! My internet troubles and writing whatnot has kept me away but Bonnie's question this round came at just the right time!

Is there a place you like to write that's extra special? Have you carved out a writing niche? Is there a certain time of day (or night) when the words fall into place, and your brain is focused on nothing but writing?

I live in a tiny house. Like, just over a thousand square feet. There's no such thing as privacy, and my writing space consists of a kitchen table that my husband wishes we'd actually eat at once in a while. During the school year, I get the house all to myself four days a week. Friday through Sunday... well that's another story. But even when I do have the house to myself, real life sort of seeps through. There's the laundry, the phone, the dogs who want in and out, in and out. So even though it's just me and laptop, it's really not.

Adaptability is key for my writing. Pandora and headphones are all I really need to shut out real life. And when my husband travels to conferences, I often tag along. Hotel writing is one of my favs! Nothing but me, and a quiet room with no distractions. In the summer, I flee to my family's cabin by the lake. No internet, no phone, and a view to die for. Just last weekend I holed up by the fireplace and cranked out four-thousand words.

But those solitary moments are few and far between. I've learned how to channel my muse despite the distractions of every day life. I sort of like my little kitchen table in my tiny house. But I'm not gonna lie... I dream of building an addition with a nice little office. Sound-proof!

Where do you go for a little peace and quiet? Is there a special place where inspiration flows? Check out Kate's post before mine and Sandra's tomorrow for the inside scoop on their inner sanctums!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blog Neglect

I have come to a decision: I'm a horrible blogger. It's okay, I've come to terms with it. I just can't make myself post on a regular basis. And I'm envious of my friends out there who put out the effort and write--sometimes daily--some really great posts!

I've hit the downhill slope of my WIP. I'm looking at 8 chapters. A mere 24 thousand words and I'm done! This is my favorite part of any WIP because the story just seems to fly! The loose ends all come together, and best of all, this is when my heroine gets to really kick some ass! I think I do some good writing in action scenes. I can crank out three or four thousand words and not even realize I've been sitting at my computer for a few hours.

Of course, I'll still be posting here and over at Writing Out the Angst. But as I sit here, antsy to get back to the WIP I can't help but think, Does it get better than this? Sitting at my laptop with a cup of coffee, letting my imagination run free on the page. I think not.

What's your favorite part of a WIP to write? The foundation? The rising tension that builds to the middle? Or the climactic ending?