Building A Clean Manuscript

There is a great post about cleaning up your manuscript that I discovered via twitter. Boy I do love those random links I click. Since I am right smack in the middle of edits and starting to get a little anxious about the 40,000 words left on my plate, this was a great reminder at why I need to take the time and the energy to push through this before focusing on putting together my submission package.  I do believe this will be the last edit of LSM because I am finally happy with the quality of writing and the story that has thus emerged. The changes also work nicely with the second book, which I just finished writing the first draft of last month.  See how the timing works out?

To be honest I think every person should take their finished, fully edited work, hide it under the bed and work on another project. Just let it percolate a bit. Then come back to it a week or two later and look at it with a fresh perspective. If it still feels clean, well then you are good to go. But there is nothing worse than thinking you've caught everything and hitting send only to discover the typo three days later.

Anyway,  here is a link to the post. It's a bit lengthy, (I skipped the excerpts because they felt redundant and over exaggerated. The point was clearly made without them), but for a new author just taking on the editing of a massive project like a novel it could be helpful.

For me the best part of it was her definition of a clean manuscript.

"A clean manuscript, for benefit of those of you new to the term, is industry-speak for a manuscript completely devoid of misspelled works, grammatical gaffes, dropped words, incorrect punctuation, logic problems, formatting errors, clich├ęs, or any of the many, many other small errors that make those of us trained to read for a living grit our teeth because we see them so very often. Indeed, Millicents and contest judges are often specifically instructed to consider seriously only clean manuscripts."
I love this description because this is exactly what a writer should be working towards, it is the end goal that you should aspire to achieve BEFORE you start to query an agent.  And in my opinion, this is what the last and final round of edits should be focused on. But I won't go into my theory on what the editing process should look like yet. I'll save that for another post. Hopefully when LSM is ready to be sent out, (again).

Pitch, Pitch, Pitch

You know me! When I find a hot new article I just have to share it with my friends. Today twitter pinged me with some unexpected NaNoWriMo goodness.  (If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo check out the following Posts: Taking on NaNoWriMo Part 1 and Taking on NaNoWriMo Part 2)

The Book Doctors, just wrapped up the NaNoWriMo Pitchapalooza, and randomly critiqued 25 of the submitted pitches for this year's NaNo projects. They have posted all of the examples on their site, along with a description of what works and what doesn't. The pitch is definitely something that varies from person to person, but I always encourage writers to pay attention to what the industry professionals are saying! You never know when you are going to find that golden nugget of information that might help you get noticed.

There is also a second element to the contest, you can actually vote on your favorite pitch! The downside, the voting system is a bit archaic, requiring voters to send an email to the Book Doctors with their choice, but it's still a neat idea.

Oh, and if you are looking for more pitch related sites, here is one of my favorites: Evil Editor.

Love Sex Magick Update

Now that I have finished a first draft of the second book in the Chai Macek series I've gone back to my edits on the first, Love Sex Magick. Unlike the first three rounds I am actually finding this bout of edits fairly manageable. Perhaps because at this point I'm focused on line edits. Fixing sentence structure, cutting unnecessary words and correcting the odd typo. I'm very excited about my progress thus far. I'm on track to finish edits by the end of the month (which if you're counting is less than a week away). This weekend I edited 114 pages!  I would have managed more, having Monday off for President's day, but I needed to finish my letter of intent for my Seton Hill application.

So that's what I've been doing this month. With the edits wrapped up at the end of the month I will begin querying agents and editors. I think in March I will take a break from this series and do edits/revisions to a quick Novella that is almost complete. I'd like to test the waters with a few e-publishers and I think the break from these characters will be good for me. I should be able to wrap that project up in March and at that point I suppose I will have to pick straws to determine which project I want to work on next.  I need to figure out how to write AND edit at projects at the same time.  But with my current full-time job, it makes it difficult to even get in the time for one of those activities, let alone both.  We'll see. If anyone has suggestions on how they manage multiple writing projects at the same time I'd love to hear it!

Seton Hill University

So I did it.  I've been thinking about it for years, I mean years, and I finally did it. I made the decision to apply for the MFA Writing in Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University. I am nervous and excited at the same time. As I prepare to submit my application I have moments of sheer panic, when I ask myself what the hell am I doing? Do I seriously think I have the time or the money to do something like this? Am I going to go crazy from sleep deprivation or reality TV withdraw? Hopefully the answer is no. For one thing, I don't sleep as it is. Might as well do something productive with my time. And on the TV, well let's just say that's why I pay the big bucks for a DVR that can record up to 4 shows at a time! I may be able to cut the real housewives, but I am not giving up my teen soaps.  After all I want to write YA. Doesn't that count as research? Hmm...I wonder if I can buy stock in the CW and all their teen angst shows? That would be a good investment given they're as addicting as crack.

My application is almost complete. I've got fantastic friends who have agreed to write glowing letters of recommendation. I've got a polished writing sample. I've got the transcripts ordered from my undergrad program. (BTW--I seriously had no idea what my accumulative GPA was. Do people remember things like that?) All that is left is the Personal Statement. Yes. The dreaded personal statement with no parameters or guiding questions whatsoever. I started a draft last week, before all my traveling set in and rambled on for at least two single spaced pages and never even got to my writing goals! Oh goodness. I guess a little exploratory writing couldn't hurt. I'll have plenty of stuff to cut later, though the delete key just doesn't have the same effect as ripping a piece of paper out of a notebook, balling it up in a crinkly wad and chucking it across the room.  Not that I've ever done that. But I like the dramatics of it all.

So, yes. To answer your unspoken thought, I should be working on that personal statement. I most certainly shouldn't be updating my blog. But oh well. I had five minutes of not sleeping time to use up.

Fun Valentine Treat

E!Online is running a competition similar to last year's Entertainment Weekly comp that declared Damon Salvator, aka Ian Somerhalder the ultimate sexy beast alive, or is it dead? Following the same bracket formula E!Online has lined up some of today's hottest TV couples and pitted them against each other. Now you have a chance to make your voice heard by voting your own favorites into the next round. There is definitely some tough competition. Some of my faves:

1. Damon and Elena (Vampire Diaries)
2. Bonnie and Jeremy (Vampire Diaries)
3. Peter and Olivia (Fringe)
4. Hodgins and Angela (Bones)
5. Ezra and Aria (Pretty Little Liars)
6. Kurt and Blaine (Glee)
7. Michael and Nikita (Nikita)

I could go on and on. Just thinking about the day when some of these couples will stop dilly dallying around and throw a stake in the ground gets me all flustered.  So go vote. Be Happy. February is apparently the month of love (and bitterly cold snow).

The first round of E!Online Competition: Tv's Top Couples ends Feb 14, so get steppin!

NaNoWriMo Winnings

Yes, I may have forgotten to report my NaNo Winnings on my very own blog. What can I say. December seems to suck the life out of you with all its parties and gifts and outstanding shopping. But I was still able to make progress before the madness kicked in, clocking in my NaNo journey with 54,000 words on my current WIP (work in progress).  And technically I did it in just over three weeks, because there were many days that were lost do to travel, a couple work engagements and well, Thanksgiving. I did learn that while booze may make for fluid writing it does not help you to remember to save your work or help you find said work the next morning. Lesson learned.

In January I was able to finish the first draft of the novel, so I wrote an entire novel in three months, which is a brand new record for me! I've set it aside while I polish up book one and make some small adjustments that allow LSM to better lead into book two. Then I will come back with fresh eyes for major edits. The only thing keeping me going is that I know if I can get the book cleaned up it is a really strong story and I do believe both books can sell. I've put a stake in the ground and declared 2011 my year. So its all or nothing.

Congrats to all winners! Hope you all were successful this year too!