Category Archives: Perseverance

Books: Intrinsical by Lani Woodland

Isn’t it pretty? Yeah. I know both the author and the woman who took that fantastic picture. It helps that they’re the same person, though, I guess… How did so much creativity and talent get packed into one (tiny) person? I don’t know, but it’s gloriously unfair. KIDDING, LANI! Well, about the unfair part, not about the talent. 😉

Intrinsical is a true young adult paranormal with all the juicy bits of a good love story and all the suspense of a good ghost story. Set in the Pendrell boarding school (which doesn’t exist, but the land it sits on does and OMG gorgeous), Intrinsical follows Yara as she arrives at this school expecting nothing more than boy trouble and homework stress because the long dominant trait of otherworldly communion seems to have skipped her. This hopeful outlook lasts only as long as it takes for her to set foot on Pendrell’s campus, for on her first day she intervenes in a spiritual attack on another student named Brent, saving his life and drawing the attention of a malicious spirit that appears to her as a black mist. Yara soon finds out that there is more to this new school than uniforms, curfews, and panoramic vistas. She becomes entangled in a sixty-year-old curse that endangers her life and the lives of everyone attending Pendrell including her best friend Cherie and her new flame Brent (yes, the boy whose live she saved. Isn’t it romantic?!).

Besides being one of the kindest, most awesome people I’ve ever met in my life and had the fortune to call a friend, Lani’s book is an engrossing read. And that picture really doesn’t do the cover justice. The book is available now in hardcover from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (unfortunately my bookstore is dropping the ball on this one, but I’m working on making sure Borders carries it soon, too), so stop by your local B&N branch and demand a copy!

Erica’s rating: 4/5

Update: Why I Disappeared

So last summer a friend of mine was visiting. He borrowed my laptop and accidentally busted the screen. Suck. And when I went to get it fixed they told me that the screen wasn’t my only problem. Apparently my video card had fried too. And since my video card was soddered to my motherboard, that meant a $500 repair. Which, after I looked into it a little, was more than half the price of a new computer. So I said screw it and started saving for a new computer. My pretty new PC (a desktop this time) arrived last week and OMG so happy!

So, in short, look for updates every so often now that I have constant access to the internet. Fun times for all! 🙂

Publication: Indie Houses v. Fatcat Publishers

Because of a lot of things happening in May (namely my birthday and my sister’s recitals), I took the month off from everything but work. Hey, I still gotta eat. 😉 But just to catch you up with my life…

No new news on the agent search.
Nothing to report on the writing front. I’m still revising.
I really need a vacation.

And that’s pretty much it.

On to the reason for the post!!

It’s kind of weird how many times I’ve heard this from people who know I’m trying to publish a book. “Well, if you don’t get picked up by a major house, you could always self-publish.” While this is a true statement and I have nothing against self-publishing, people tend to forget a whole third option in today’s publishing world: the independent houses.

Just like self-publishing, independent houses are not for everyone, but they shouldn’t be excluded as an option entirely. There are strong benefits to working with a smaller house including, but not limited to, working with people who are truly passionate about what they do.

Joshua Mohr recently wrote an article entitled A Faithful Grope in the Dark where he talks about his path to publication and how he ended up working with Two Dollar Radio, a small press that is about to release his first novel Some Things that Meant the World to Me. Listen to what he says because he makes some really good points. But, in the end, all I’m suggesting by this is that if you land an agent and they tell you there’s a small “boutique house” interested in your work, consider it. It may end up being the best choice for you.

Perseverance: For Anyone Who Has Ever Dreamed A Dream

In her most recent post, Janet Reid, Literary Agent, pointed me toward a blog post by Toni McGee Causey. This post is inspiring, beautiful, and everything that is good and magical about following your dreams.

Go read it.


Writing: Critique Groups

Some people are incredibly private when it comes to their writing. Even some of those who are on the path to publication (or have already been published) eschew showing anyone other than their paid editor their book before it is in printed, bound, saleable form. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the most common is fear. And of the most prevalent fears is the fear of a story being stolen.

I can’t say I am completely immune to this particular fear. I have shied away from putting my stories up in online critique groups and writing communities in response to stories about authors suddenly seeing their stories in print under someone else’s name. The problem is that no one I’ve spoken to can point out even one particular case of this happening. Where is the evidence?

Eventually, I got over my fears–part of that had to do with the fact that I actually joined a wonderful online critique group (Critique Circle, for anyone interested)–and recently I even created a group of my own.

But the point of this post isn’t fear, it’s why critique groups are incredibly awesome.

Have you ever worked on a math problem for a long time and gotten so turned around by the numbers that you can’t figure out where you went wrong? But then someone comes along and points out your mistake in two seconds? Sometimes that’s what a good critique can do.

You are God in your character’s universe. Both omnipotent and omniscient, sometimes it’s hard to realize that not everyone sees your world the way you do. By bringing in an outsider, you get a whole new set of questions you have to answer, different expectations to meet, and a different reader to satisfy. By bringing in several, you’re getting a sampling of your future audience and you learn ahead of time which points of the story some readers disagree on. By bringing in a critique group instead of a paid editor, you’re saving money. I know I’m totally broke. 😉

Besides, it’s fantastic to have someone to talk to about the characters, what’s working, and what they want to see.

So how do you go about forming a critique group? Here are some tips that may help.

  1. Keep it relatively small. If more than four or five writers are involved, individuals receive minimal attention.
  2. Find people whose work you find interesting. Critiquing a 500 page novel that you hate isn’t good for anyone, honestly.
  3. Work with people who will be honest but constructive. Vindictive or hurtful comments are not going to help you revise, they’ll just shatter your self-confidence.
  4. Lay out the ground rules early. How much time does each story get? How long do readers have to respond? How often will you meet? Will the meetings be in person, on the phone, or online? In what format do writers expect to receive their comments?
  5. Stick with it! You’ll only benefit if everyone in the group is willing to put in the time to make it work.

Do you think a critique group is for you? There are plenty of ways to meet writers interested in forming one. Online forums, conferences, flyers in college English departments, local writer’s clubs (check your local library), coffee shops, book stores. The possibilities are limitless. So, go! Find those who share your passion and help each other make it toward the finish line. I have a feeling you’ll be glad you did.

Writing: Messy First Drafts

Perfectionism has no place in the early stages of creativity. Mistakes are gold mines and should be treated as such, and first drafts are the best place to make those mistakes. But who am I to tell you this? Luckily, I’m not the only person who thinks so. Go read this article featured in Writer’s Digest:

Get Messy With Your First Draft

And, for those interested in my own writing progress, here’s an update. I’m currently working on my ninth (I think…) revision of Fallen. Once this is complete, I will send the story out to a new batch of agents and hope for a bite. There’s a connection my mom has that might turn into something useful, but I’ve learned enough by now to not put all my hopes in on basket. 🙂

Update: Looking back on 2008

Last December, I posted this list of goals:

  1. Sign a contract with an agent.
  2. Go to the gym three times a week.
  3. Sell a short story to a magazine.
  4. Complete rough drafts of books two, three, and four of the Fallen series.
  5. Begin work on a new book project.
  6. Sell Fallen to an American publishing house.
  7. Completely reorganize my house.
  8. Start printing pictures and putting them into albums.
  9. Develop a writing schedule.
  10. Post in Incandescent at least twice a month.
  11. Buy a good laser printer.

In that post I also promised that I would come back around the same time this year and go over how well I did. Accountability and all that. So, here it goes.

I have been working on several stories outside of the Fallen series, so number 5 has been taken care of. The first draft of Guardian is complete, which means 1/3 of number 4 can be checked off. Every month has a post in it, so number 10 is partially complete. And I did manage to reorganize my house (mainly in the last month), so number 7 was knocked out just in time. Unfortunately, that’s where my successes end.

Although I came close to a contract with an agent, I am not yet represented. I definitely didn’t make it to the gym, like, at all. My short stories have been sadly neglected and haven’t made it into any printed media. And the rest of these goals… well, weren’t even thought about, honestly.

You know, looking at it like this is almost depressing.

But, on the bright side, a lot of good things have happened this year, too.

So the purpose behind this post, to completely redo my goals for the next year. Here it goes:

  1. Complete rough first drafts of the final two books in the Fallen series.
  2. Sign with an agent in January or revise and resubmit Fallen.
  3. Continue working on various side projects.
  4. Develop my editing services.
  5. Continue with at least one post per month on Incandescent.
  6. Diet.

So there it is. It’s a lot less ambitious than last years, but I think there’s a chance of actually completing all or most of these. Wish me luck. I’ll check back with this list same time next year!
Oh, and, by the way. Merry Christmas! 😀

Writing: News and Newness

A friend of mine has recently decided to get serious about making the first steps on the path to publication. She’s previously dabbled in quite a few writing worlds, but none that offered “professional” publication. Since I firmly believe that writers at all levels can learn from writers at all levels, I’m going to link to her blog: The Chronicles of Emily Cross.

Writing is all about learning from mistakes, watching others make mistakes, taking those mistakes and creating a character who lives through them to show the rest of the world how to avoid those mistakes. 😉 Writing is about teaching, about learning, about living experiences and committing them to paper. Writing is a love affair and a broken heart. It’s a roller coaster and a sinking ship. It’s a ride in a hot air balloon and a freefall from five thousand feet. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

Why am I saying all this? To encourage you to head over to Emily’s page and give her the encouragement she needs to make it through the gauntlet of publication in one piece. If you can’t do it for her, do it in the hopes that someone would return the favor if it was you walking this road.

Writing: Sticking With It

Greatness is more than potential. It is the execution
of that potential. Beyond the raw talent. You need
the appropriate training. You need the discipline.
You need the inspiration. You need the drive.
– Eric A. Burns

The quote I put up today is an excellent reminder for me and anyone struggling in the pre-publication void of the writing world. It means working out plots and characters even when it’s the last thing you want to do. It means getting past the middle of a story even if you’ve finally seen all those problems your friend pointed out. It means never giving up no matter how many times someone says no. All you need is one yes.

Recently, I’ve been sick and trying to work enough hours to keep the electricity turned on, but I’ve been neglecting my stories. The thing is, I felt it. I felt the absence of that creative outlet in my daily routine and I missed it desperately. I didn’t have the energy to do anything about it, but that hole was definitely there. And that hole was only made larger by my sister’s semi-regular text messages asking when she was going to get the next installment of my latest story. 😉 As I’ve mentioned before, having someone waiting to hear what you have to say next is a great reason to get it out.

So my random lingering illness is fading and I have the energy and inclination to get back to what I love most. I find my fingers itching to find keys–whether on my phone or my laptop. My characters all start shouting directions at me and I have to choose which project I have to work on first, which character has the most to say, which one is going to explode if I don’t let them get their ideas out on paper. And, as always at times like these, I wonder how I ever thought I could ignore the noise for long.

Revising: Striving for Perfection

Some days, I feel like falling asleep on my desk. Usually this happens right around the time I realize I need to do another edit of my book. And the time may have come once again.

As I start the eighth major revision of my novel (and keep in mind that eight is a number at which some writers might cringe and others might scoff–“Pff. Only the eighth? Wait till you’re labeling your twenty-fifth.”) I find myself wondering at the whole process of revision and how little most new writers think about it when starting out. I know that, for me, revision was an inevitable part of the process, one I figured I’d deal with when it came. I guessed I’d have to do a handful of revisions before sending it off to agents, another major revision when it got into the hands of an editor, and then be at peace with a finished copy of my first published book.

Ha. Hahaha. Ha. Ha.

And another HA just for good measure.

As I mentioned in a previous post Writing: Series Issues, writing is constant revision and nothing is finished until you’re dead. And even then I’m sure God negotiates. (10 cool points to anyone who can tell me off the top of their head what movie that came from.) This is a fact, but the reality of it doesn’t sink in until… well, until you’re labeling your eighth revision sometimes.

So, in honor of this occasion, I have a list of tips for the new writer. Read them. Digest them. Decide for yourself whether or not they work for you.

1. Take everything your readers/critiquers tell you into consideration, but don’t jump the gun. Carefully look at their suggestions and then decide if their ideas/criticisms are consistent with the direction you want to take the book. If you’re writing a fantasy epic and they’re wondering why the soldiers don’t have guns, that might not be a complaint you want to incorporate. However, if someone mentions that they don’t empathize with one of your characters, stop yourself from screaming that they’re just inconsiderate and don’t appreciate your art, take a step back, and listen to that nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “Well, we might be able to fix that.”

2. Invest in a laser printer or become incredibly familiar with Track Changes on Word.

3. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS (and, I don’t think I can stress this enough) ALWAYS save copies of previous drafts. You never know when that little scene that didn’t work in draft three will suddenly find a home in draft nine. You may not be able to replace it if you didn’t keep the old manuscript.

4. Keep your edits and your revised drafts. Sometimes you may want to look back and go, “Why exactly did I change that again?”

5. Don’t dive into revising immediately after you’ve finished the first draft or immediately after a revision. A month or so away from the book is crucial to both keep you from getting bored and to give you the distance you need to read it objectively and say, “Geez. That sucked. I can totally rewrite that part.”

6. Multiple colors of pens are your friends. I use one gel ink black pen, one red pen, and a pencil when I revise on paper. The black pen is for crossing out major sections, the red pen is for small editing marks I might miss if they weren’t a different color, and the pencil is for actual text I want to add. It’s a process that works for me.

There are thousands of possible revision techniques and hundreds of suggestions I could give you to help you out along the way, but what troubles have you run into while revising?