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What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

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What Every Author Needs to Know about Editing

It seems like only yesterday, late October to be exact, that I was sitting down with my Dad talking about our family and writing a book in my head. October, the whole year in fact, was an emotional rollercoaster. It felt like every time I found my feet they were swept back out from under me.

 

I threw myself into writing Lives Paris Took with a vengeance. I had 5,000 words written before NaNoWrMo and had 53,000 written by the end of November. By December I was finished with the first draft, coming out at a solid 81,000 words. 

Because of the tough time I’ve had this year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to be brutal about who I let into my life, who I let hurt me, and how I treat myself. I let my fitness regimen fall away completely. I didn’t stand up to myself. I was furious at the terrible treatment I got from loved ones. But then I realized that so much of it, I could control. I started pruning the branches of my life. I started saying no and not giving my reasons why. 

Editing is much like taking control of your life. There may be authors whose first drafts are these shining beacons of light sent straight down from their heavenly muses…but I am not one of them. My dialogue is contrived. The emotion is emotionless. The descriptions could be about a wooden box and it’s just generally very shallow.

When I embark on an edit it is with the attitude that this is where I shine the most as a writer. I can slog through the first draft, but I dance through edits. Constant revisions make the draft into a work of art.

I’ve finished the last edit now and it’s off to my copyeditor, Husband-in-Chief, for the final 'please check-all-of-my-commas’ edit. I honestly don’t know if there is a better feeling than finally compiling your manuscript in Scrivener and seeing transform from all of its disparate elements, into a novel.

In short, there are only two pieces of advice that you’ll ever need for editing. One is, work from the big picture to the small, and, two, smile while you are doing it. There’s nothing better than seeing it transform before your eyes.

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How to Focus on Your Writing Not Your Insecurity

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How to Focus on Your Writing Not Your Insecurity

Writing has to be one of the most difficult pursuits. Its solitary. Its a lot of head banging and staring at a jumble of letters trying to force them to have meaning. Writing is also full of terror, at times, insurmountable terror. 

These periods can be devastating for any author. The seemingly endless edits where grammatical and punctuation errors seem to breed like rabbits. Or perhaps the first draft that just won't translate from head to screen. 

First, take a deep breath. Most of the time, the deadlines we have imposed, are by ourselves, and therefore will not suffer from a lost day or two. Take time to think about why you are writing. What is it that makes you sit down to laptop or paper and write? Do you enjoy it? Good. Keep going.

Secondly, after you have found perspective, forget what 'everyone else is going to say.' If you've published the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and you've found errors, take a breath. Every book has errors. Have a cry or shake your fists at the sky in frustration and then fix them. Go back and do it. You'll be so much happier.

Thirdly, get out of your own head and find someone to share the day with. Writers often forget that it is from the real world that we draw inspiration that feeds our imagination. We cannot have one without the other. Perhaps you see, like me, a homeless man with a sign stating, "Rogue ex-CIA agent seeking $ to get out of town." Now...isn't that a story.

At the end of the day, insecurities keep us from our dreams. In the immortal words of Suzy Kassem, "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." 

So go on. Focus on your writing. There's never been a better time.

Cheers,

Rachael

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Tea Talk Thursdays

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Tea Talk Thursdays

Getting to Know Me

I want to introduce what will be a regular feature on the blog. Tea Talk. I want to get to know my readers and also help you get to know me. Today, I’d like to give you some more background on me and who I am as an author. Here are some q&a’s from my most recent author interviews.

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a Colorado resident. I am a mother to a fantastic little girl who loves owls and ballet. I also have one of the most supportive husbands in the world. As I’m doing publicity for The Clouds Aren’t White, he’s more than once expressed his concern that I’m not finishing the draft for my second novel, due out in December. 

When and why did you begin writing?

I began writing when I was taught how to hold a pencil. I have little stories from first grade (for all non US citizens-age 6). I was a voracious reader. I have clear memories (because it still happens) of picking up the condiment bottles when my parents would take us out to dinner to read the labels. I also read the menus, where the place little bios, everything. I began writing because so many wonderful books transported me to such fantastic places that I could not keep in my love for them. Writing stories was an escape for me. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I was halfway through the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White. I have probably twenty stories sitting in the dark corners of my laptop, comprised of about 20 pages each, that I threw away because they just weren’t “the one.” With The Clouds Aren’t White I finally found a story that I wanted to tell, that I thought needed to be told.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My husband. I’m actually serious. Every story I started and then proceeded to scrap he would get disappointed because I wasn’t happy with it. Through every little step he encouraged me to keep writing, to keep working. So I wrote it because of him.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came about in a weird way. I was actually painting, I’m not very talented but its fun, and I was trying to get the sky just right and I kept looking at the photo that I was painting from at the sky is this mass of colors. Because white isn’t really white. There are yellow-whites, blue-whites, green-whites…just ask anyone who has painted the interior of a house, they’ll tell you. And the novel is so wound around terrible events in Emmeline’s life that I wanted to capture the depth of her experience and also that light can be found even in the darkest of times (oh gosh, I’m quoting Rowling).

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I really want my readers to grasp the amount of dedication that Emmeline has to her family, particularly her husband and daughter. As mothers and wives, our worth is so often (how do I say this delicately?) overlooked. I want readers to see the worth of such a strong woman, the necessity of a support network, the love we bear our children. Emmeline is the definition of a feminist, she chooses her own path, not letting even her parents dictate to her, and follows through.

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10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

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10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

1. It takes much longer than you would think: I finished the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White in three months. I thought to myself, ‘hah this writing isn’t too bad. I’ll be done in four more months.’ That was not the case. 

2. You spend 4x as long editing as you do writing: Every writer will tell you this. The first draft is the easy part. The second and third drafts are harder. Editing is the hardest. Somehow you have to take a first draft and make it into a story that flows, that makes sense, that has proper grammar…something worth reading in other words.

3. You'll rewrite at least one chapter, usually the first and/or the last: This happened. When I read the first draft over, six weeks later, I wanted to gag myself. The first chapter was awful and it in no way coincided with the ending. Also I added another two chapters. This was actually the fun part, bringing the story full circle.

4. There are a thousand achievements to celebrate: First draft. First revision. Second revision. Third revision. Editing finished. Writing a dedication. Sending off to agents. Sending off to more agents. Deciding to self publish. Getting a cover. Uploading to amazon. Website going live. Book release date. Getting the advance copy of the paperback. First sale. It goes on. 

Disclaimer: My husband no longer drinks champagne with me…apparently we’ve “celebrated too much.” Whatever. Celebrate on.

5. Your family will get tired of hearing about the book: This happens. Sadly. Its hard to understand just how much courage it takes to make a simple file upload on amazon or what it feels like to lay awake at night, sure that the world will laugh in your face for the book and label you a fake. Or perhaps even worse, that no one will ever buy it. 

It takes so much courage to write a book. It takes dedication and perseverance to get through the hardest part…yourself.

6. Getting an agent is as difficult/almost impossible as they say: I sent my query letter out to thirty agents all of whom were meticulously researched to make sure that they were accepting novels and that my book would be a good fit. It totaled out to twenty nine rejections. The only ‘yes’ I got was from an agent that had a dubious reputation in the literary world. Keep going. Your book is worth it. Rejection doesn’t reflect upon you.

7. You'll want to quit at some point. Or many points: All I wanted was for it to be easy. I wanted to quickly find an agent and a publisher and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Then it didn’t turn out that way. I seriously considered not self publishing. I wanted to quit. I did.

8. There will be spelling mistakes in your published manuscript: It happens. Get over it. Who cares if the grammar nut reviewed your book and commented on it. No one else cares…as long as they aren’t rampant and distract from the narrative. 

9. You'll cry. My husband has come to realize that this is just a part of living with an author. I cry when I’m thrilled with what I’ve done. I cry when I hate it and want it all to go away. I cry when the words sound like a three year old. I cry because I’m sure that sentence is literary perfection. I also cried when I uploaded files to Amazon and CreateSpace. I cried when my family wasn’t as thrilled as I hoped they would be. Crying is ok. Being disappointed is ok, just don’t let it become every day. Try again tomorrow. Do something different tomorrow.

10. Holding the book, seeing it for sale online, will make all the pain worth it: Crying again. There’s something, a part of you, out there in the world. A thing of beauty that you’ve created and that’s something very few people can say. Be proud. Don’t let sales or likes or shares get in the way of the wonderful thing you’ve accomplished.

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Life Cycle of a Novel

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Life Cycle of a Novel

I’d like to share today, what it takes to get a novel from mind to page and then to readers. This is not an easy process. This is not simply “having time” to write a novel. It takes much more than a decent grasp of a language to write a book. Irregardless of the talent, it takes great strength of mind to come through the process and out the other side. 

So, using the example of my novel, here is a general outline of the time and energy it takes. Through this process I had a part time job, was (and still am) a stay at home mother. 

Phase 1: First draft. 

3 months.

Phase 2: Break. Think of the book as a good wine. It needs time to sit. 

6-8 weeks

Phase 3: Revision. Consists of read through of the book, rewriting chapters as needed.

4 weeks

Phase 4: Second Revision. This phase usually consists of making the book cohesive, if the ending has changed.

4 weeks

Phase 5: I call this the ‘prose phase,’ wherein I delete most of the dialogue and give each character their own distinct voice.

4 weeks

Phase 6: Editing. Editing consists of grammar and punctuation so that the manuscript is readable.

4 weeks

Phase 7: Beta reader phase. Send off the manuscript to beta-readers and get their feedback. This can take longer than anticipated.

2 months

Phase 8: Implementing beta-reader revisions.

4 weeks

Phase 9: Final edit

2 weeks

Phase 10: Send to agents/publishers

3 months

From here on out, depending on the reactions that you get from agents, it can take another year for your book to be traditionally published, if you are fortunate enough to get a publisher. If you decide to self publish, the book can be on Amazon within the week.

So…the grand total…16 months of long hard days filled with work.

And at the end…joy.

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A Short Introduction

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A Short Introduction

Welcome to the Website! Thank you so much for stopping by. Especially for clicking here, on the blog. 

Let me introduce myself. 

I am a Colorado native, currently living in and around Denver. Writing has always been a passion of mine and publishing a novel one of my biggest dreams. I am married to a wonderful, hard working, and very supportive husband (who smiles when I lock myself in a room to work) and mother to a smart, talented little girl who wants to be an owl when she grows up. We are incredibly blessed in our family life. Insert hashtag here. 

The stories that I have started, gotten twenty pages in, and scrapped are innumerable. Every story that I scrapped I felt that it wasn’t “the one.” There was something missing in the narrative or I found that the story was too childish. 

I came across the story for The Clouds Aren’t White (TCAW) quite by accident. One day I found myself wondering how one would cope with the loss of a spouse when there were children involved. Its one of the most frightening things, the threat of loss.  So I began to write.

I finished the first draft of the novel in three months and finished five days before my husband’s birthday. I kept telling him that I had thousands of words left before I was finished. I gave the three hundred page manuscript to him for his birthday, then promptly took it back so I could start editing. 

I hope that you findThe Clouds Aren’t White engaging and passionate. Please leave a review on Amazon or send me an email in the ‘contact’ tab. I would love to hear from you.

Cheers,

Rachael

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