Weekly Writing Update: Aliens and Autism

Earth

Weekly Writing Update
 
Well, I drafted my creepy doll head flash fiction story in short order so now my brain is percolating a story I started a year ago and mean to finish SOON. It is a science fiction with a main character who is a formerly non-verbal autistic teenage girl.
 
I had the good fortune to be contacted last year, just after I started the story, by a woman who is formerly non-verbal and autistic. I am going to think about her speech patterns and some things she had to say and let that inform the story.
 
I think I was coming at it from the wrong angle and I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I feel like I got off base by trying to write the story the way I write other stories. It’s definitely going to be third person and use the two very strange dreams I had about alien contact. We’ll see what else I find over the next few days for inspiration.
 
I’m very excited to feel like I’m back on track with this one. It’s definitely not horror. I’m going to be working on investing it with a feeling of wonder and awe. Wish me luck!
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Writing Update: Pulling Weeds

Hosta

 

I had an anthology all picked out to submit my horror story, Long Distance Call, to but I found the button on Submittable was for submitting to one of their OTHER publications. Sent them an email and now I wait. I figure I’ll give them two weeks before I move on.

It’s the perfect time of year for writing – you can go out and weed while you work out some plot points. Any repetitive work is GREAT for the imagination but I love weeding. There’s the sun and the breeze and the satisfaction of seeing the detritus cleared away so the plants you want to thrive can use the nutrients.

I also started writing another short story in the horror vein.

I never would have thought it . . . me? Horror? Apparently, yes.

Why write horror? Maybe because it’s a retreat from the horrors we read in the news. Or maybe it’s just the joy of the twists and turns. The prompt for this one was creepy dolls and then I came across another note I had made for myself that I wanted to write something having to do with sinkholes. It all falls together. 🙂 

DONE! For now. (A Novel Submission)

Done

Well, I did it. I FINALLY submitted my paranormal romance, Earthbound, to a publisher. My husband poured me a really big glass of wine last night, twice what I would usually pour myself, so I hope I didn’t rush this. 🙂

I wrote the novel, let it sit, and edited it. I rewrote bits and shared some with my writer’s group members. I gave it to three beta readers then applied their suggestions. I gave it to three MORE beta readers and applied THEIR suggestions. Writing is truly a recursive process, you keep going back to a piece over and over, but at some point you have to let it go. So I submitted it last night.

I’ve been working on this novel for several years now. To be honest, I don’t even know when I started. I’ve worked on it, alternating with short stories, poetry and other novels, for quite some time. But this year is about finishing things and putting them out there.

For rejection? Maybe. I hope not. I’m hoping for an acceptance, but if they pass on it, some useful feedback would helpful too. Now, I try to forget about it until I hear back from them.

On to the next thing – plotting the next book, editing my short horror story, and finishing the other science fiction series I started.

To be honest, I’m very excited to move on to the next book, Firebound, about my main character’s best friend, Jennifer, who was burned in a car accident. I saw a youtube video on plotting a novel that I plan to watch – “How to Plot Your Novel FAST” from Ellen Brock. The comments on it are very positive.  

I’m actually feeling very accomplished. I even managed to clean some windows, sort munchkin and my clothes for donations, cook three meals, and do her laundry on Sunday along with submitting the novel. What more do you want from life?

I’ve got some seeds.

Seeds

As always, the past week seems to have happened at light speed. I accomplished quite a bit and yet not nearly as much as I wanted to.

A friend finished her beta read of my novel, “Earthbound,” and now I’m going to apply those edits and hope to submit “Earthbound” to a publisher within a few weeks.

I’ve been reading through “Unprepared” to get a cohesive picture so I can write the last bit. It’s hard to remember everything you’ve done when you’ve written a book in two sections, over two years. For example, I didn’t remember I’d written one scene twice, in rather different ways.

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time researching book trailers on Youtube and getting excited about the different ways to make them and the different options for how you want the trailer to feel. There are some basic elements – text, still images, video, music, and voice overs, but you don’t have to use all of them and you can use the different elements in many different ways to tell the potential reader about your book. It’s a fascinating topic and I’m looking forward to creating one.

I may not have a book deal yet, but I’d say I’ve got some seeds that just might grow into one.

Work in Progress Update: Unprepared

I’ve been reading through of my work-in-progress, “Unprepared,” and it’s already making me cry again.

“Unprepared” – When a particularly virulent flu pandemic hits Upstate New York, an agricultural engineering professor is quarantined not far from home with his wife, a medical doctor, and his daughter. As the pandemic rages on, the professor feels helpless but he may be one of the few people who can help put his town back together again when it’s all over.

UnpreparedExcerpt11March2019

Earthbound: The Final Edits

Earthbound

I’ve been working on edits for my novel Earthbound, based on suggestions from my beta readers. I’m so close!

I have just a couple little, tiny bits to write before I send it to the next set of beta readers. I’ll apply whatever edits they suggest, that fall in line with my vision for the book, and it will be off to the publishers.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this book, and am still enjoying editing it.

Novel Word Count?

How long does a novel have to be? That has been widely debated and seems to change from time to time. The bottom limit has often been regarded as around 50,000 words but I just finished Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and was much surprised to find that it weighs in at only 46,118 words. I feel much better about the two novels I’ve drafted which came in at around 53,000 and 63,000 words. Onward and upward!

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Editing Mode

Every writer needs an extra cup, or two, of their preferred beverage when editing. Am I right? Well, here’s a little trick that I’ve recently found helpful.
 
I write either on paper or on a computer. If I write on paper, then I edit for the first time as I type my manuscript into the computer.
 
If I write on the computer, I may make one or two passes reading through the manuscript and editing on the computer. Then I print it.
 
I edit it on the paper copy and transfer the changes to computer document.
 
Now I’ve added a new method for finding my mistakes and taking stock of the landscape of the draft. I turn it into a .pdf file and load it to my Kindle, where I have a free .pdf file reader.
 
Something about reading on the Kindle, the way I might another book, helps me to catch even more mistakes and edit the overall plot and flow of the story. It’s almost as if I were reading someone else’s writing.
 
I might try a suggestion from author G.H. Monroe, and read it into a recorder so I can play it back for myself.
 
Pretty soon it’ll be the beta readers turn! Yay!
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The Publishing Finish Line

Well, I can see the finish line in sight. This has been an interesting process from start to finish and reminded me of the need for both patience and creativity in solutions. The book has been approved and will be available for purchase on Amazon in 3 to 5 days, I am told. 🙂
 
I’m not even sure when I first conceived of the idea of a book of poetry, to be honest. It was at least several months ago. Seemed an easy process – throw some poems together and make a cover in Publisher, right? Ha!
 
Picking which poems to include wasn’t so difficult. Editing them took much longer than I planned on. My beta readers were the best help. Then I realized the order of the poems mattered more than I had thought and had to fix that. Right up to Sunday night when a page break moved on me and put three blank pages in the pdf I was uploading to Createspace. *sigh*
 
This morning I went to approve my proof so it could be distributed and the computer at home would not turn on. The fan just ran and ran. 😦 Bad computer, very bad computer.
 
But we’re almost there. Soon I’ll be able to really start marketing the book and that will be a whole new adventure.
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Punctuation in Poetry

Punctuation in Poetry

Over the past few months I’ve ramped up my scrutiny and editing of my poetry, trying to get it ready for publication. I’ve learned a few new things about what I like in poetry and I’ve found I like playing with space and punctuation.

We’ve long debated capitalization and punctuation in my writer’s group. I’m of the mind that you punctuate and capitalize as you would any sentence, even though it is broken up by the end of a line.

Now, we know periods create a full stop so that’s a fairly long pause. Commas cause a shorter pause. I believe line breaks create a pause in our brain even if we continue reading. I learned recently that our brains treat written language as a physical terrain, so I liken that line break to stepping over something in your way. You may not be stopping but it slows you up just a little.

At one point I thought to myself, “Oh, I don’t like those short dashes Word is putting in. I think I’d like all long dashes.Then I tried it and realized, “Oh, all long dashes is no good either.”  It was just too much. So I learned more about hyphens (-), En dashes (–) and Em dashes (—) than I thought possible but I also learned how to make them in Word.

And now, it ‘feels’ right, because I was able to use the right punctuation.

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