Saturday, June 23, 2012

Valuable Tips from the Trenches of Revision

I recently finished a marathon revision of my novel. In less than one month, I completely revised it chapter by chapter, pitched it online and submitted it. Whew! 
From the depths of the trenches of revision I am offering a few helpful tips from what I’ve learned.

Critique Partner - like MasterCard says... PRICELESS!
I never would have completed the revisions or probably have even started the process without my fantastic critique partner spurring me on, offering advise and being available to read each chapter as I submitted them to her.  
Big thank you to Sandy.
Work Backwards - gets you unstuck.  I worked chapter by chapter in order until I got marred down in the middle.  Then I went to the last chapter and revised it. If you’ve never tried this I highly recommend it. Usually by the time I get to the last two chapters in revision I just want to power through and be done. So this time I spent some time on the last chapter and then the second to last.  Got me unstuck and I learned of some key elements that I needed to tie into earlier chapters. I haven’t tried jumping around, but others have and say that works too.

Search and Destroy -  use it earlier rather than later.  It makes you a better writer. During a time of less energy, I needed a change of pace so I did a search and find on one chapter.  You know the drill looking for those passive verbs, the “ly” or your overused or filler words and then removing them, replacing them, or making sure you haven’t overused them. Let me tell you it woke me up to some of my overused words and I wrote with far fewer of them in the remaining chapters. 
    Here’s my list of those overused or naughty words to search out and destroy.
          was, were, is, are, be, being, been, am, it,
that, there, this, then 
smile, glance, stepped, laugh,sigh
should, could, would, had, have, 
thought, saw, heard, smelled, felt
noticed, might, maybe, before, with, know, some
look, gaze, watched, eyes, hand
start, begin, began, almost, decided to, planned to
like, almost, even, only, some, somehow, something, somewhat,
really, well, just, simply, so, a lot, anyway, rather
suddenly, immediately, extremely, very, every, quite
turn, need
manage, eventually, exactly, finally, nearly, practically, seems, basically,
truly, utterly, sort of,
Deadlines  - keep you motivated and moving forward. Self-imposed or otherwise. I was slogging along losing focus and an online pitch popped into my email. Thankfully, the book you were pitching didn’t have to be finished. I pitched, got a request and boy did I get it in gear.
Hooks - worth the effort. First sentence, beginning of each chapter, end of most chapters and even with a change of POV. 
Submit - a tough verb - and tough to do 
accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person : the original settlers were forced to submit to Bulgarian rule.
( submit oneself) consent to undergo a certain treatment : he submitted himself to a body search.
subject to a particular process, treatment, or condition : samples submitted to low pressure.
agree to refer a matter to a third party for decision or adjudication : the U.S. refused to submit to arbitration.
present (a proposal, application, or other document) to a person or body for consideration or judgment : the panel's report was submitted to a parliamentary committee.
No wonder pushing the send button to submit the manuscript to editors and agents was harder for me than birthing my children. With labor I had no choice. Pushing the send button--fraught with angst. 

But in the end I succumbed and submitted.
And I’m doing it all again next month.
Feel free to comment on your wisdom learned from revisions or anything else as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bet I Know What's On Your Bucket List

Up until recently I was too busy raising kids to worry about a bucket list.  Maybe I was too young (I can only hope) thinking I had plenty of time to do all those things that would make my someday list.  

But time does march on, my kids are almost grown so... I made the list.
The Bucket List was made popular by the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Loved the movie!  The idea of dying and hurrying to do all the things on my list - not loving so much. 
But the thing that got me writing down an actual bucket list was my latest attempts to embrace minimalism, which if you knew me is almost laughable, but... I do want to acquire less stuff.  Getting rid of stuff, still not so easy.  So I decided instead of my husband and children buying me more stuff for my birthday, mother’s day, anniversaries I thought why not cross things off my bucket list.
So how did I make my bucket list?  With the help of The Amazing Race of course. Love that show. Seeing the world and doing all those zany things and with a partner. My partner in crime would have to be my husband, probably the only one who would put up with my controlling, emotional nature, although I don’t think I would be as bad as Rachel (aka Big Brother chick) from last season, at least I hope not.  

But I soon realized my chances of getting on The Amazing Race, and my real desire to do so (can you say jet lag, lugging around that back pack, running...) was dropping to nil. Still... I really wanted to partake in some of those cool events. My bucket list was born.
A lot of people have travel to exotic locales on their bucket list but for me it was the adventurous stunts that peaked my excitement.  So...
On my Wedding anniversary we went parasailing.
On my Birthday we went zip lining.

On Mother’s Day we enjoyed a helicopter ride.

Another Anniversary we tried Aqua Chi (no dare devil stunt there - it is a foot soak)
Still on my bucket list:
Jet skiing -  White Water Rafting - Horseback Riding on the Beach
Bungee jumping - this freaks me out somewhat, I would only do this over water
Sky Diving - maybe
Even though you may not see anything on my list that appeals to you I bet there is one item most of us share.
Writing a Novel  
And then of course having our novel published.
Some of you have accomplished this and big congrats, others of us still working our way to crossing this one off.
But whether your bucket list is tame or adventurous here’s to continuously adding to your list because when I cross off all my items... then what -- death?
So feel free to comment on your novel, your bucket list or anything else.

Friday, June 1, 2012

5 Tips to Jumpstart that Fickle Friend - Creative Inspiration

I’d like to welcome to my blog Melanie Slaugh.   
A fellow writer, she is enthusiastic about the growing prospects and opportunities of various industries and writing articles on various consumer goods and services as a freelance writer. She is here today to share 5 tips to help you access that ever elusive creative inspiration.
We all strive to create the kind of writing that lures readers in and pulls at their heartstrings, the kind that grips people and makes them feel as though they’re a part of the story that is unfolding, the kind of writing that is born from inspiration
Anyone can put words on a page but not just anyone can write in a way that compels people to keep reading and makes them feel that they are as much a part of the story as the characters themselves. 
However inspiration has a way of coming and going in random intervals, which can be frustrating to writers who are looking at a looming deadline or are desperately wanting to wrap up a piece, start a piece or get through a sagging middle. What do you do when your inspiration seems to be hibernating? 
  1. Get out of the house – Writer’s tend to become enslaved to their computers without even realizing it, logging hours upon hours behind the screen. If you’ve reached a standstill in your writing it might be time to get some fresh air and take a walk. Enjoy the scenery; breathe in the beauty of nature, and let inspiration unfold before you. 
  2. Write something else – If you’re working on a freelance article or trying to finish up a book chapter you might need to take a break and do some personal writing. Pen a poem or update your blog, write for you instead of for your deadline. Take a break from the pressure and write for the joy of writing. It can be just the revitalize you need to get back to the grind and finish up what was previously stalling you.
  3. Cross something off your bucket list – Feeling uninspired could be the result of a lack of inspiring events in your everyday life. Maybe it’s time to finally try out that kickboxing class you’ve been eyeing or to go skydiving for the first time. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but been scared to pursue. Breaking free from a personal barrier may be just the push you need to break free from your inspiration barrier. 
  4. Take the day off – Blow off work for a day and take a personal day. Go to the beach, take yourself on a picnic, or hike a new trail. Sometimes the stress of life can get to be too much and can start to hinder your productivity. Take a breather and let yourself relax. Of course, you can’t do this every time you’re feeling uninspired, but every few months it’s OK to take a day and focus on you.
  5. Fit in a workout – Go for a run or hit the gym for a spin class. Get your heart pumping and blood flowing. When you have a healthy body you have a healthy mind, and doing something positive for yourself can help you clear the cobwebs out of your head and leave you rejuvenated and revived. 
Sometimes all we need to do is change up one thing in our daily routine to find inspiration where it was otherwise lacking. People are creatures of habit, but following the same routine day in and day out can mean we end up stuck in a rut, feeling uninspired and unproductive.   
                            Change, even if it’s minor, sparks creativity, so embrace it. 
I personally have used all of these tips.  I’d love to hear any other ways you find inspiration so                                          Feel free to comment.
Thank you Melanie for this inspirational post.  Melanie Slaugh writes extensively for internet service providers and also topics related to internet providers in my area for presenting the consumers, the information they need to choose the right Internet package for them. She can be reached at slaugh.slaugh907 @