Monday, December 31, 2007

Books Read in 2007

Books read in 2007:

The Last Night of the Year

For some reason, I've been much more aware of the end of the year this year. I know that sounds crazy, but I feel as if everyone I know is taking stock and making plans for the coming year. And of course I am too. I'm just too lazy to post about them yet. As usual (you'll note my 2007 goals post was a bit late this year. Ahem).

2006 was the first year that I began to take writing seriously (again). And it was a pretty big year for me even though I didn't have a ton to show for it. As I said in my 2006 round-up post, 2006 was the year that I made writing friends, re-learned about the market, got my feet wet all over again. I ended the year having written 171,701 words on at least 7 projects. It was the year I queried Dead Bodies and Debutantes (and go rejected).

It was the year I started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

It was a building year. In 2007 I may have written less (prob about 90k words give or take). But boy have I accomplished a heck of a lot more. I signed with an agent. I sold a two book deal for more than I dreamed possible for a debut. But even more than that, I learned how to follow through, how to polish -- I mean REALLY edit -- my own work. I learned how to take criticism and work with CPs.

I gotta say, 2007 was a helluva year for me :)

It's also the year I did a ton of substantial legal work for a pretty complicated trial. It's the year I changed jobs, moving into a practice area that I'd always dreamed of working in (and for more money to boot!). The year we learned our dog had brain damage and learned how to deal with that (update on that coming soon -- we found a new home for her!). JP made his first pro-sale and sold some other (amazing) stories as well. We took a trip to Belize, JP won a slew of his own cases (including one today). I became a Manuscript Maven and learned how to use livejournal.

I'm really looking forward to 2008. I still can't believe it's here already, but it should be full of interesting twists and turns. I really have to thank all of y'all for making my 2007 so special -- it's meant the world to me to have y'all to talk to every day (er... every week maybe?).

Soon I'll start looking towards 2008 (it is the year I turn 30 after all... ahem...). But for tonight, I think I'll continue to revel in what 2007 brought. JP is cooking up a storm in the kitchen for New Years Eve... I think I'll go join him :)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Weekend Goals -- the update

So... my one weekend goal was to finish substantive edits on FHT. Right now, I'm on page 201/282 -- not too bad. Sure I'd love to be done, but thankfully I also have a day off on New Years to finish things off. What's surprised me the most with these edits? My ability to spend 10-20 minutes stressing over the most minute word choice. Seriously, in previous rounds I could cut whole swaths of work, re-write entire sections. Now? I've become iffy over the difference between "choice" and "free-will." Seriously, these are the things impeding my process.

But at least I'm in the home stretch right now. What's funny is that I still think of this manuscript as being less than 250 pages. I forget that I've added over 16k words in revisions -- crazy, eh?

Thus, I still have goals to meet over the next few days:
  1. finish substantive edits
  2. read FHT as if I were a reader and not a writer/editor
  3. get JP to read FHT (again)
  4. critique CP's chapters pronto!

I'd wanted to clean my house so I could start the new year off right... but... well... that's the problem with having 2 full time jobs (or, as one of my day-job co-workers pointed out, I really have 2.5 full time jobs since our day job is about 1.5 jobs).

JP has an AMAZING menu planned for New Year's Eve and wines to go with each dish. It's going to be a blast. What are everyone else's plans to ring in the new year?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Weekend Goals!

For those of you who may be recent readers of my blog (waves to LJ peeps), a while back I started posting my weekend goals in order to clarify for myself what I wanted to accomplish and also to hold myself accountable (that's where y'all come in!). I've not only found it to be really helpful, but it's also pretty cool to go back through my archives and see all the goals I've set (and met!).

So, without further ado, my goals for this weekend:
  1. Finish substantive edits on FHT.

Yep, that's it.

Speaking of goals, though, pretty soon I'm going to be doing a 2007 goals recap and writing down my goals for 2008. This is really the first year that I ever wrote down my goals, so I'm pretty excited to be able to look back and reflect on them.

I once heard and author -- I think it was Debbie Macomber -- say that you should go ahead and write down those crazy goals, those goals you think are almost impossible. Things like "NYT Bestseller" and "selling X copies of my book" or "selling a book for a Y figure advance." She said that she'd done that once and now, looking back on it, she's reached so many of those goals. Which I think is pretty cool!

As for me, I make a few sets of goals. The first follows Erica's rules of goal-setting, for me the most important that they should be within your control (things like "I'll aggressively query my finished novel" rather than "I'll get an agent"). Then I write things that I'd like to achieve, that I think are possible, but are outside my control (that's where I put "I'll get an agent"). Finally, this past year I laughed and had fun and wrote my "wildest dreams" list, things like "I'll sell a book for X figures."

Soon, I'll share what all those goals were and whether I achieved any (hint: the answer is yes!). But for now, I have edits calling!! However, if it's goals talk you're looking for, JP has already posted his recap of his 2007 resolutions -- I highly recommend reading it, very funny!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Revisions and edits and revisions

There's a great article in the RWR (Romance Writers Report) this month on revisions. Essentially the author reviewed a bunch of writers about their most memorable/painful revisions and essentially all the writers talked about how revisions are a part of the process. And it's true, they are.

Recently, I've had a few people ask me about revisions. Usually it's them saying "you're still editing? I thought you turned those in last week?!" And usually my answer is "yes and yes."

I've heard some true horror stories about revisions -- people asked to add characters, arcs, 20k words or to cut characters, arcs, or 20k words. Michelle Rowen once changed a book from third person to first person (or was it vice versa?) and she re-typed the whole book in order to do it. I think Jackson Pearce changed a book from third to first (or vice versa?) and from past tense to present too (or vice versa?). I know someone else who's written the same beginning from three (or was it four) different POVs multiple times -- very hard core!

Clearly, I was anxiously awaiting my own editor letter, wondering what her prognosis for my book would be. And I have to say, so far so good. Right now we're on the third round which may seem excessive, but seems about right for me. We started two days after my book sold when Krista sent me an email with a few major points she wanted addressed, things like making one character more sinister or clarifying a relationship. All in all, things that I thought were addressed in the book, but clearly were better established in my head rather than on the page.

And that's something the RWR article makes an excellent point about -- wait a day or two before defending yourself to your editor. Because inevitably, the first words out of your mouth will be "But...." and that's not necessarily the way you want to approach your edits. I'll always remember a blog post Justine Larbalestier wrote about how writers are very often way too subtle in the first few drafts... that's a lot of what your editor will be pointing out to you: things you think are very clear but just aren't on the page.

Anyway, so I went through that first round of revisions and handed them in. Seriously, I felt like I was back in law school where you take one exam to cover the entire semester's worth of work. I had no idea if I was going to pass or fail -- if my edits addressed her issues, were too heavy-handed or too light.

A few weeks later, Krista sent the second round of edits (I passed!) -- this time an editorial letter and the manuscript marked up to delete repeated words (I hate repeated words), streamline parts, and questions written in the margin. This is the round I took with me to Belize and the round it felt like my eyes were bleeding with at the end. I became so tired of my manuscript I didn't care what happened to it!

Thankfully, I had a few days off to regroup while Krista read through the edits (I passed again!). I already knew there'd be another round, hoped there'd be another round. Because I knew that by the end of that second round I wasn't giving the best I could. I knew I needed another read with a clear mind. And to me that's the scariest part of finishing the big edits: the end of your chances to make substantive edits. That's it. The book is done. Finished. Any lingering issues need to have been addressed or they shall linger forever (or until you write a sequel :)

But I'm not there yet. Right now I'm on the third round, clearing up those lingering issues, trying to spot anything that needs tightening, explaining, etc. Once I'm done with this, the book shall wend its way to copy-editing where the poor editor will inevitably have a heart-attack at my grammar (yay! commas as decoration!).

So, that's why all the edits and lack of blog posts and sporadic emails. That and the fact that the end of the year is THE busiest time at my day job. I definitely have my hands full right now!! Anyone who thinks that revisions are done once you sell the book -- ha!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays!!

I hope no one is reading this blog and is instead enjoying time off with friends and family :) I'm in Atlanta with my mom, step-father, and sister Chris's family. We've been having a wonderful time with last-minute shopping, hanging out watching movies, tracking Santa through NORAD, and enjoying the holiday spirit.

To me, Christmas has always been about family and tradition and I've been having a wonderful time starting new traditions and passing on old ones to a new generation. Tonight two of my nephews sang carols while the new baby girl smiled and tried to chase the patterns on the carpet.

Times like this make me miss my other sister and her boys up in the tundra, but I know they're also having a wonderful time with even more family and traditions.

I'll be back blogging soon enough with goals and reflections on the past year. Until then, enjoy the Holidays!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Finish the #%$ Book!!

This week, I posted at the Manuscript Mavens about what I've learned from the books I've written and set aside. One of the lessons I learned is to finish the #%$& book.

Recently, there's been chatter on one of my loops about finishing books. Because of edits, I freely admit that I haven't had time to read all of the postings, so I could be totally misjudging the discussion. But the gist of what I read has essentially been: why finish the book when you don't have to?

Generally, the reasoning behind this thought is that it takes forever for agents and editors to respond to queries and partials, so why not send the partial when it's ready and then finish the manuscript while waiting for the response or not at all. As the argument goes, this can cut down on the amount of time wasted working on an idea that just might get form rejected at the partial stage.

Trust me, I understand how this is a compelling argument. Remember, I was there. I accidentally pitched my project when it was just a partial and I was stuck wondering whether to finish the book or just send the partial.

I'm here to tell you: finish the book! There are tons of reasons why: because you won't know if you can finish a novel until you write the words The End; because you don't know what may come up in your personal life keeping you from writing (for me it was a new dog with a broken leg); because you don't know if your plot outline will work or if you'll be able to tie everything together until you do; because you don't know how long it will take to edit, or how long it will take your CP to read and get back to you.

These are all good reasons to finish the book before querying, but for me, the ultimate reason is that you want to be able to send the book -- in the best possible shape you can make it -- the day you get a request for it.

Take my experience with The Forest of Hands and Teeth: I started querying that book in mid-August and had a two book deal in mid-October. The day any agent requested the full, I sent it, hoping to capitalize on their momentum. My first request for a full came within 1-2 weeks of querying, I had requests for pages even before that.

What I'm saying is that requests can come quickly and you want to be able to capitalize on them. You don't want to put the agent on hold and let them forget you while you scramble to finish your book and skimp on the editing and polishing. Furthermore, you want to take the time to really polish your book not only because it makes a better impression, but also because it can speed the process. Because I spent so much time editing before querying, my agent was able to submit the book rather quickly and my editor has bumped it up in the publication schedule.

I know how hard it is to spend a big chunk of time working on a book when you're not sure if it will sell or grab the attention of an agent. I've been through that tons of times with various abandoned projects. But as I said in my Manuscript Maven post, with each book that you write and finish, you're learning skills that will make the next book that much better.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tusday Maven

Hey everyone -- today is my day to blog over at the Manuscript Mavens. I posted about the lessons I've learned from previous writing (you know, like all those novels under the bed... or on a really really really old computer). Come on over and tell me what lessons you've learned from past writing experiences!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Edits, Christmas Trees, and Slush Piles

So I turned in my edits -- hurrah! Of course, there will be another round starting next week which I actually think is great. I feel like the manuscript is *this* close to being the best I can make it and I really do believe that another round will get it there.

Because of my new-found freedom this weekend (amazing how having edits do just hangs over your head at all hours of the day) I spent yesterday cleaning, moving around furniture to make room for the Christmas tree, and pulling decorations down from the attic. Today, JP and I got our tree and I'm sitting here in front of the fire listening to X-mas music, waiting for the tree to dry out (it rained last night) before putting on the lights and decorating.

Growing up, decorating the tree was always a big deal. We'd have a nice dinner, listen to Christmas music, and enjoy the time together as a family. My dad used to give my sisters and I an ornament every year with our names and the date on them with the intention that when we grew up and had our own trees we'd already have a nice collection of ornaments. Which of course means that all the ornaments for our tree have my name on them. We call it the Carrie Tree :)

So later today I'll throw a roast in the oven and we'll open a nice bottle of wine and we'll laugh at all the Carrie ornaments while the cats lounge in front of the fire. To me, that's what Christmas is all about.

In other news, The authors of Fangs, Fur & Fey have been posting their stories of how they rose from the slush pile. Now that my edits are done and I get to play on teh interwebs again, I've added my own story here. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of my story. I feel like more and more people these days want to know the short-cuts, how to get there faster.

I've always believed that the first step is to write the best book you can, the second step is to query, and the third is to start on the next book. Now I'd add a 1.5 step: polish the manuscript to a shine -- I definitely had a lot of agents and editors commenting on how polished my manuscript was and that can only work in your favor.

So for those who think that you need connections or a special hand-shake, I'm here to tell you that you don't.

Finally, because I promised and because it was an amazing trip, here's a picture of the view from our place in Belize:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday Maven

Hey everyone! Today is my day to post on the Manuscript Mavens. I wrote about subjectivity in agenting and how one agents form rejection may be another agent's sale.

I promise more here soon... but first I must finish edits!!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Yes, I'm back and yes I had a fabulous time and yes I have pictures and stories to share.

But not today. Today is all about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Today, my only goal is to finish edits. This means starting from page one and reading the whole thing through making sure everything works. And there's one relationship that needs a fair bit of tweaking and a few things that I have to check for consistancy.

Start your engines, we have a lot of ground to cover before the end of the day...