A Small Celebration

I just wanted to toot horn for a minute. I’ve got a manuscript revision done!

I’ll be the first to say that my understanding of the written English language is lacking. I’m a strong math student and even hold a couple of architecture/drafting degrees. However, writing became a hobby only after I graduated high school. It is my place of solitude and escape. I have started over 50 books since then and about half are completed.

This book was actually written back in 2010. It sat on a shelf for several years. Two years ago, I downloaded it to my kindle and fell in love with it all over again, but it was riddled with errors. I began a long campaign of numerous revisions. Then last year, I thought I finally had it read. I signed up for a conference and focused on finishing the second book of the same series. Then as the time crept closer to the conference, I grew panicky and focused my attention on making it perfect. I even enlisted others to help.

Then the conference came and I pitched my book. She loved the idea and wanted the first 50 pages. I was excite and relieved that it wasn’t a flat out no. However, sitting through the conference opened my eyes to much of my writing mistakes. Especially when writers submitted their first pages to be read to the agents and the agents said what they liked or didn’t like about them. I’ll admit that I did a lot of tell, not show where I was trying to bounce from scene to scene – it read more like a summery rather than a story. I over used phrases like was/were with ‘ing’ words.

So, I really buckled down and cleaned up those first 50 pages from what I learned at the conference before submitting it to the agency (and a side note: make sure you have more than one up-to-date copy. When your usb drive dies, it’s a nightmare).

In the last two months, I have taken a hard look at my book. I work full time and I’ve got two side jobs, so my time is limited. I would love to do nothing but read my book in one sitting. I’m happy to note that there are sections in the book that still make me laugh after all of these years and I think I love it more now than even just a year ago. I’m so much more confident in this latest edit. I’ll keep rereading and making corrections because that’s who I am. But for right now, I’m just excited it is done. Happy writing readers.

L. R. Mauck

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Weekend Challenge #9

Whatever path you have your character on, throw a monkey wrench into it. If the character was fleeing from the house, have them trip. Or peering out the window and they see a shadow out of the corner of their eye. Or if they walked into the kitchen, see that the oven is smoking. Have the spouse tell the main character she’s pregnant or wants a divorce. Something. (Don’t have the character react yet. That’s next week.)

For bonus points: post it to your blog.

Updated word count:

  • Book 3: 0
  • Revision of book 1: over 1000 words were clocked in last night.

Literary Agents

A simple online search will tell you that need an agent if you want to go the traditional publishing route. You may not need them in all cases, but it’s safer to have one. They know the business and can help guide you through it on your journey to getting published.

What do agents do?

  • Sell your book to a publisher
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Market
  • Blurbs

The cons with an agent:

  • The get a cut of your profits
  • It’s takes time and effort to get one to represent you

There are steps to getting an agent. I highly recommend the 2017 Writer’s Market book. That is a good starting point. The second step is to look for agency’s that represent your GENRE. They will immediately pass you over if you send the wrong genre. And the agencies do talk to one another. When you find a handful of agencies that appeal to you, send out a query. (If you do not know what a query is: Click Here for Query) Also, research those agencies. Know who they are and the author’s they represent. You should also see what their requirements are and if they are open for submissions. Beware, some agencies will only hear pitches at conferences.

I wish you all the luck if you are searching for an agency now. Remember, a rejection is a badge of honor and it’s one step closer to finding that prefect agent. Do not be discouraged.

And a special thank you to the viewers of yesterday’s entry. That was the most hits I’ve had in weeks. It motivated me to get a jump start on book three last night. Yesterdays new additional word count: 658. I did make other changes to the manuscript not tallied, so hopefully, it’ll flow better now.

L. R. Mauck

Word Count Goal

Yesterday when I was going through my Twitter feed, I saw a tweet about #turtlewriters. So, being curious, I checked it out. It was a sharp reminder of what I tried to do last year.

In November, my second book’s rough draft to my book series was completed. It was started in September of 2011. Yeah, I know. So, I wanted to learn from my past with my procrastinating, I created a goal to write 1200 words a day for the month of December for the third book. Let’s just say that goal didn’t lasted a week. I did have a justifiable excuse for it. I was revising the first book of the series with the aim to get it completed before my pitch back in April. That book has went through two more revisions in that span. I applied much of what I learned at the writer’s conference to the book and am much happier with the result.

But…

My third book’s file has only been opened a handful of times this year and has had no progress passed the third chapter. I’ve been stuck in the revising state for so long, I’m losing my creative edge. The thoughts are there. The outline is drawn up. The notes are all pinned to my cork board. I’ve got thoughts and subplots detailed out. But nothing new written in months.

So, for the month of July, I’ve got a new goal – an attainable goal set. I need to write a minimum of 500 words a day. I know that’s not a lot, but 1200 was unrealistic. I’m grateful for the #turtlewriters push to get back to my writing. I’ll post at the bottom of my upcoming posts in July of what my current word count will be.

L. R. Mauck

Word Importance

This is not what I planned to write for today’s entry, but after I listened to some cds (yes, I’m old school) last night, I thought this topic was necessary to write about.

Okay, first, what do I mean by word importance? Well, I want you as a writer to actually consider what you are putting down for your story. Each word needs to add weight/value to the context of the story or help guide the story along. Get rid of those filler words. They just take up space and slow the reader down.

Example: Sally was looking through the store window.

That may seem like a simple sentence and if the character was looking, as in the character paused in the story to look through the window, than it stands. It slows the story. But if it is an active sentence, a better option would be: Sally looked through to the store window. That simple change moves the story along at a faster pace.

Think active, not passive. Tighten your sentences.

Consider a strong opening sentence for your novel. Many stories start with a good hook sentence. Everyone knows Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities: “It’s was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”. They may not have read the book, but the sentence is known. These opening lines are important because they are the first words to set the stage and pace of the book. More importantly, they are the first words your reader will read.

Let’s focus on the physical word for the moment. I don’t mean that you need to get out a thesaurus and attack your manuscript, but actually look at what you’re writing. Think over the words. Is there a better way to phrase what you wrote in each sentence? Is it clear? Can your targeted audience understand and picture what they are reading? Are you using repetitive words or phrases?

  • I am a huge Linkin Park fan. So, as wonderful example from my favorite group–their song Breaking A Habit, the second verse starts with “Clutching my cure…” The word “clutching” screams out to me each time the song plays. Not holding or grasping, but clutching. What better imagery word that paints the mental picture of the person who is at the very end of their rope reaching out to hold their cure that is their safety line. They would be clutching onto it for dear life.
  • Another song of theirs: What I’ve Done. The song is about letting go of their past and starting anew. The bridge hook begins with “I start again…”. How many of us start New Years resolutions, only to fail a week, two weeks, a month, whatever later? And we are always saying “I start again…”. It’s one small word but it fits all of us. Our behavior patterns cannot normally be a one-time fix. We must start again and again, to break the repeated mistakes.

So, look at your work. Put thought behind each of your words. Do they explain the situation, the character, the plot? One small word or phrase can either be explosive to the book or boring and overused. Examine other works. See how other writers make their stories flow, listen to songs and look at their lyrics. I highly recommend Linkin Park’s many albums for a place to start. Their writing is just amazing and fits their music.

L. R. Mauck

Analyzing Words

I saw this on Ted Talks and thought it was interesting. So, I pass it on to you. The video explains on how books throughout the centuries have been digitally scanned in by Google – some 5 million books. They created software where you can go in and compare word usage such as throve to thrived over these centuries based off the those books.

Please do watch the Ted Talk, then proceeded to Google. You’ll enjoy it.

What We Learned From 5 Million Books

Google Ngrams

A side note: check out the other Ted Talks. They are very informative and cover a wide range of topics and fields. Always expand your learning.

L. R. Mauck

My Challenge Acceptance

This is my challenge acceptance for challenges #7 and #8.

A young girl entered the bedroom. Her brown eyes quickly scanned the stone walled room to find it empty except for the large canopy bed and a desk. She stepped to the bed and ran her fingers over the white bedclothes, feeling the different rises of the fabric. Her eyes gazed around the room again, looking for something. Her bare footsteps hardly made a sound on the wood floor as she walked quickly to the opened window. A cool summer breeze blew across her skin as she looked out into the night sky. She shivered. A wave of loneliness settled in her stomach as she took a step back. She was truly alone.

A small flicker of the candlelight drew her attention to the desk. On its surface was a blank piece of parchment with a quill resting in the inkwell. The girl absently toyed with her dark hair as she leaned over to stare at the parchment. Words slowly took shape as if a ghostly hand formed each letter with careful grace. Large black letters formed the words “I’m finally free”.

A knock sounded on the door. The girl quickly stepped away from the desk, but stood in front of it blocking the view from the door.

“Yes,” she said. Her voice shook with nerves.

“I’m sorry to intrude, my lady,” called a female voice through the door. “The King requests your presence in the great hall.”

“I’m…” the girl started. She took a deep breath. This was the start of the downhill slop that was to come. “I’m not my sister. I am Adraya.”

The door opened to reveal a short plump elderly maidservant. Adraya’s sister’s handmaid. She gave a short bow to the girl.

“I beg your pardon, my lady, but where is Lady Freda?”

Adraya sidestepped away from the desk and motioned towards the note. “She’s gone.”

The woman read the parchment with her eyes freezing on the three words.

“I must inform the King.”

“Yes.” Adraya, moved to sit on the bed.

“My lady?”

“Yes?”

“May I request your presents to accompany me to the King’s hall?”

Adraya drew in a deep breath and released it slowly.

“I shall accompany you.”

The maidservant led them out of the room and into the stone hallway. It was a dark, gloomy walk with only a few torch lights guiding their path.  The castle was built with less windows in the floors closer to ground level to protect the hold during war time. However, it caused a lack of fresh air, leaving the rooms smelling musty.

There was a tall wooden door off to the side of the main entrance hall. Behind that door, Adraya knew the king conducted all of his business. There were whispers among the servants that the king had more visiting parties from surrounding countries with rumors of war and alliance requests. The girl wondered if it was the rumors that caused her sister to flee.

The knock of the maidservant on the doors left an ominous sound reverberating around the hall.

“Come in,” called a deep voice from behind the doors.

Adraya reached out with shaking hands and opened the door.

 

L. R. Mauck