Musings

Twitter… I tweet!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter… I do a lot of writing-related chatter that’s basically meaningless *mea culpa* but I also do post and re-tweet articles and blogs that I think are helpful, or pertinent, or funny, and I really enjoy the social aspect of tweeting. More, I find tweeting to be highly motivating without distracting me when I’m deep into my manuscript. You’d think this would be contraindicated, but it actually works for me.

Writing, let’s face it, is a fairly solitary endeavor. But if I’m having, say, a rough time with sentence construction to capture just the right feeling I want to convey… I can pop over to Twitter, dash off a quick note about my frustration, then get back to work. A bit later, when I go look at Twitter, and see it’s been replied to or even just re-tweeted… I feel like I’ve been “heard.” This is important. We all need to feel heard. And somehow… this just does it for me.

Because it’s a Tweet and not a blog or FB post, we’re severely limited in the space we have to write, plus leaving room for hashtags, so it doesn’t take more than a minute to get something written quick. OMG if I went to FB or here on my blog to post every time my characters weren’t cooperative, or every time a scene was going GREAT and practically writing itself and I was jumping out of my skin for joy… I’d never get anything written on the manuscript, I’d be too busy here or in Facebook writing about it! And that makes Twitter perfect for me.

In fact, some nights when I’m writing late, I find myself staying up later than I’d planned, so I could write more to have something to Tweet about! I kid you not!

Musings · Wishes & Dreams

Motivational Flyer for A Gift of Jacinth & Writing Plan

Gift of Jacinth fabulous-250A Gift of Jacinth is the second book in the “Wishes & Dreams” series, and it’s basically a completed manuscript but I do want to go back in and do some more editing (is editing ever done? at least up until the point it goes to print! LOL). Anyway! I never did give myself a “reward” for finishing it several years ago. And rewards are important! Finishing a book (except for editing, of course) IS a huge accomplishment, and needs to be rewarded. So when I came across an artwork in DeviantArt that looked very close to how I envisioned Jacinth, I contacted the artist, and commissioned a piece, asking particularly for a lamp and a calico cat (The third book, A Cat For Troy, is about a shapeshifting Maine Coon).

Anyway, the final version was just delivered this morning, and I worked on  my flyer some, and here we go! Mind you.. this is NOT a book cover, nor meant to be; I’m aiming to sell this to a traditional publisher, and they have their own artists do their covers. No, this is just for me, because it makes me happy to have a visual flyer for my works in progress. Unfortunately, I can’t afford commissioned pieces for each and every one, but hey. I have *this* one and that makes me happy!

So, I sat down and hammered out A Writing Plan, now that I’ve recovered from the emotional rollercoaster of having finished “Wishes in a Bottle,” and I’ve done my research on literary agencies and gotten a short list made up for queries.

Between now and the end of next week (August 4):

  1. Do a final refining and checking on the agents/agencies in my short list and choose the top five that I think would be the best fit. (done!)
    1. Begin submitting NLT Monday, August 7.
  2. Make final edits on the 9-page synopsis for Wishes in a Bottle (done!)
    1. Submit the 2-page synopsis to the class Blackboard on Thursday, Aug 3rd.
  3. Pour over the contest judges’ comments on Jacinth, throw away those that make me eye roll, and very, very carefully read through the ones that are actually helpful and thoughtful and see what has merit, and where I need to work on my weak points, and go through the manuscript with that in mind.
    1. Introduce the concept of a “Wish Bearer” and what how they are distinguished from other Djinn, in both Wishes (done!) and Jacinth manuscripts.
    2. Add in the mischievous adolescent Djinn, Remi, from When Darkness Falls, in no more than 2 scenes.
    3. Since Douglas’ partner Troy is now a secondary character with his own book, let’s see a bit more of Troy in Jacinth.
  4. Make a specific timeline for Jacinth, since events in Jacinth and Cat will overlap (not an issue with Wishes, since that came before). (done!)
  5. Write a long and a short synopsis for Jacinth.
  6. Write a “blurb” for Jacinth (though a query letter is not required, since it’s being pitched along with Wishes in a Bottle as part of the series).

I’m not making A Writing Plan for after that; I want my focus to be on these, not what will come after. By  Friday the 4th, I’ll be able to see where I am on things and where to go next. Obviously, finishing A Cat For Troy (at 47,000 words currently) is high on the list, but for now, I’m leaving that alone in order to focus.

Focus.

FOCUS.

On Writing · Wishes & Dreams

I finished the manuscript!! But…

I think I have the writer’s version of postpartum depression. I’ve been trying not to whine (well, except a couple times over on Twitter). It was about 11:45 pm Monday night when I typed The End (shivers in delight recalling that moment). About 2 minutes later, I got a sudden idea for just a lil bit more to squeeze in there between the final scene and the epilogue. But I was utterly exhausted and fell into bed… and at 1 am was wide awake because my Muse wanted me to get that bit written. I finally got up and did it… was only about 2 pages more, we’re not talking major here.
 
I woke up Tuesday morning just about incandescent, as you can imagine! After calling my mom and my daughter and everyone I knew and making them deaf with my “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!” in their ears, I went out to swim, then took myself out to buffet lunch at the Indian restaurant (where I hadn’t ever been but kept promising myself I would these last 2 years since I moved here). This is where I went wrong… I spent too long out in the pool, at 96 degrees at noon (but the water felt so WONDERFUL!)… and then stuffed myself at lunch (but it was GOOD!). This started a kind of yo-yo effect.. the “high” of having finished the manuscript interspersed with honestly not just feeling well (not so much from the food as the sun, the food just didn’t help matters). And of course the bouncing between high and low was exhausting, in and of itself.
 
I figured I’d be better today, but I’ve been blaaahhhhhhh. You know those moods when nothing is right? My left brain is all “you could do this” or “you should do that” and my right brain is “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” with the occasional “will you STFU” at the left brain.
 
I finally dove into researching agents, which I hadn’t meant to do til starting tomorrow, and to do it in bite-size chunks over the next week. But since I wasnt’ feeling like doing anything interesting or creative, it seemed a good time to do this and at least it’d be done and I could get that feeling of satisfaction at having all the information I need at my fingertips (my ocd’ness showing up heh). I’m almost done with that, about one more hour. Then I’ll work on my synopsis and try to get that down to 2 pages for those agents who specify the shorter length. I already have my query letter written. So I’ll be ready to start querying shortly… with two completed manuscripts for a three-book series, and the third is already half done!!! Okay I’ve managed to talk myself back into a better mood already, see??? LOL!
Business & Craft of Writing

Synopsis Length… the vexed question

Back in the days of paper submissions, every publisher and agency had specific requirements laid out, i.e., query letter, first 10 pages, 5-page synopsis and SASE. Or whatever.

In these days of email or webform submissions, I did a spot-check of agencies listed on RWA’s website, and a handful of publishing houses, and discovered that is no longer the case. Not one of the agencies I looked at specified a length for the synopsis. With publishing houses it was even harder to find anything about submissions at all; of those few that did, only Harlequin specified a length, and just to confuse things more, they asked for 350 words (so not even pages!). Granted this was just a spot-check; I didn’t do a thorough research (I’ll be doing that after I finish this manuscript, hopefully by the end of this weekend). If you go by contests, most of those I’ve entered or judged permitted (or required) a 5-page synopsis; Golden Heart says no more than 15 pages.

This is not a change for the better. It is, moreover, frustrating as a writer. When querying an agent or editor, naturally we want to give it our very best shot, to increase the chance they’ll at least look at it. And that means giving them exactly what they are expecting to get… which we can’t do unless they tell us. Without specifics, we’re left either guessing or assuming. Not a good thing. If there’s an “industry standard” now, I sure couldn’t find it, and if there was one, I wish it was announced in big red letters everywhere! Researching this on the various writing advice, tips and blog sites is totally At Your Own Risk… for every site that says 2-3 pages there’s one that says 5 pages, or 1 page single-spaced, or 10 pages, or even the formulary 1 page per 25 manuscript pages (or 35… or…).

Editors and agents have to be aware of this huge grey area regarding synopsis length. They’re almost bound to have a preference for what they want to see, so why don’t they state it, so that’s what they get? Or do they really want to see whatever it is that we send? Which is fine too, but I’d like to know that’s their take on it… rather than send a 10-page synopsis, only to hear back that they wanted a 2-page one, or send a 2-page one and hear back that they wanted 10 pages. Why not just have it in the submissions guideline section? That’s what it’s for, after all.

My personal advice to writers is to have at least three versions of your synopsis for each manuscript: 2 pages, 5 pages and 10 pages. It’s better to have it written and not need it, than need it and have to go back to the drawing board. But it still comes back to the same vexed question: If they don’t tell us what they want, how do we know which to send?

Uncategorized

I have a Pinterest Board!

It’s really just for fun more than anything. I created some boards to put pictures I’ve found around the web (or, in some cases, taken myself) that were inspirational for characters, clothing, places, etc. For instance, the photo for this post is exactly how I envision the Sultana, the wise ruler of the desert city in  my fantasy romance, When Darkness Falls.

Of course I have the requisite board for such things as Maine Coon cats, crafts,  etc., LOL.

Check it out at Allie McCormack on Pinterest!

Musings · Wishes & Dreams

Entering the Home Stretch

I feel like I’m on the home stretch with Wishes in a Bottle. I’m almost up to the second wish (which scene is already written) and the third wish comes hard on the heels of that. I’m hoping… *really* hoping! …to have it finished by this Friday. Which is both exciting and scary.
 
I do have A Plan for once it’s finished. I’m slotting one week to research publishers and literary agents. I mean to submit to agents, but I want to educate myself which publishing houses might be interested (I already have a few ideas, just from who publishes some of the books I like to read). Anyway… I’ll spent a week researching and making a “short list” of agents, prioritized. While I’m doing that, I’ll also be working on the synopsis; I already have the blurb and query letter. I’m taking Laurie Sanders’ class on Literary Marketing Package.. .which is where I got the blurb and query letter worked up. So the timing of this class is exactly perfect! Then…submit.
 
Once that’s off to the first round of agents, I’ll pull out the second book in the series, A Gift of Jacinth, which actually is already written, and insert some changes I’ve got in mind, as well as incorporate some of the feedback I got from judges from contests. I’m also adding in a couple of cameo appearances from a Djinn character from When Darkness Falls… a totally different novel set in fantasy setting medieval times, but it’ll be a blast to have him show up in Jacinth’s story.
 
From there, it depends on timing. I have the third and last book in the series, A Cat For Troy, half done… but When Darkness Falls is SO close to being finished, and I very badly want to finish that. So that’s up in the air for now, and I’ll make the decision when I get the edits on Jacinth done. Also I’m keeping in mind that NaNoWriMo is in November. I’m too close to finished on When Darkness Falls to want to work on it for NaNo… but it would be perfect to finish A Cat For Troy, if I haven’t gotten to it by then. I don’t even dare DREAM that I might have BOTH of those finished by NaNo!!!! OMG. Not that I dont have anything else to write on, because I do, but … OMG to have the entire 3-book series finished, PLUS When Darkness Falls, is just… too awesome to contemplate.
 
I need to think up a suitable reward for that particular milestone.