Plot Stitching and Seam Rippers

I made it through Home Ec without doing myself bodily harm.

Considering that the girl at the table next to me ran the needle of her electric Singer sewing machine right through her finger (and broke the damn needle off IN her finger), I figured that I dodged a bullet.

One of the tools we used in that class was a seam ripper. It was a pointy little sharp hooked thing that slid under stitches and cut through thread so you could take out a crooked seam. Part of sewing is ripping out your mistakes and putting the pieces back together again. And while I haven’t sewed anything since that long-ago class, years later, I’m thinking about seam rippers, and how sometimes you have to tear things apart to re-stitch them. It happens when you’re sewing a shirt, and it happens when you’re stitching a plot together.

I’m working […]

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I’ve been doing a lot of corresponding with my writers the past few days, so I thought communication would be a good topic for today.

As an editor, I often find myself making the following decision: how do I communicate this information in the best way possible?

Of course, there are many different options.

I could send a marked up document and say something like “see attachment” I don’t suggest this unless you’ve worked with this person for a while or have a pre-existing relationship. Even then, tread carefully! This probably isn’t the most professional way to communication, but again, know the relationship. I edit for my husband and I usually just send him an attachment and holler down the hall. That wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone else though. I could send a marked up document with a summary of the major editorial suggestions in the body of […]

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The Hard Work of Writing

I’m not perfect, and I’d be willing to bet you aren’t either.

But, I am someone who feels the need to be perfect—or as close as possible—especially when it comes to writing. I could revise the same piece forever and it still not feel perfect to me. I often wonder if people who have created a “masterpiece” still see flaws. What did Michelangelo think of his work in the Sistine Chapel? How did Mozart feel about his symphonies? Shakespeare? Dickens? (You choose which one.) These people are people, just like anyone else. So what makes them so special? What makes their work so wonderful?

In all honesty, I don’t know. Hard work? Natural talent? Divine inspiration? Luck of the draw? Most of those things we aren’t able to control. However, we can control and improve ourselves through hard work and dedication to the art. That’s what I want to talk […]

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It’s okay to hate your book. Sometimes.

I posted good news on Facebook last Friday – I finished the first draft of a book that I had been working on for most of this year! Woo-hoo! It’s a stand-alone novel, a YA thing with dragons and elves. I worked on this book off and on most of this year, and last week I typed the last words of the first draft, hit save and set it aside to let it percolate for a while.

I currently hate this book.

And that’s okay.

You see, I go through a point in every book I’ve written where I hate the book. Some books I have a couple of points of loathing, doubt and lack of confidence before I beat it into something worth reading. Because first drafts are crap.

Not everyone’s first drafts are crap. I’m sure somebody out there has first drafts that are all […]

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On Publishing and Writing: A Sale, and a Study in Perseverence

Some of you may have seen this news on Facebook, but I wanted to share it here, as well: I have recently signed a three-book contract with Baen Books for a contemporary urban fantasy. The series is called the Weremyste Cycle, and the first book, Spell Blind, will be coming out in about a year. Obviously this is big news, and I’m very excited. But the sale of this series is important to me in a number of ways and lends itself to what I hope will be an interesting post.

I first mentioned Spell Blind (or at least the book that eventually became Spell Blind) on Magical Words back in June 2008, in a post titled “The Book I Love and Can’t Sell.” At that time, the manuscript had a different title, a different magic system, a different plot, and a different conceptual core. Which I suppose begs the […]

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I admire those writers who can sit down and plot out an entire novel in advance. I’ve never experienced it, but I imagine all the gut-wrenching, hair tearing uncertainty coming at that stage and the actual writing being a breeze. Once you’ve got the outline done, you sit down to write it. Easy, breezy, beautiful. Okay, so that’s the Cover Girl motto, but you can see how it might apply.

Me, I have to write to find out where I’m going. I can’t come to know the characters until I write them out and wrestle with their voices and their world views. Take my current novel (please!). I keep learning things about my heroine and her BFF (until death do they part) that are complete game-changers. I suspect that this is going to be a novel that I write, and then rewrite to add in all the twists I learned […]

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