Decision made…

After much thought…too much thought, I have decided to self-publish.

I know what you might be thinking: Why? That’s crazy.

The fact is, this has been a labor of love for me since I wrote the first draft back in 2012. I fell in love with the story, characters, and alternate world I had created.

After many more drafts, a professional structural edit, and a lot of proofreaders – I feel confident it is the best it is going to be. At some point, you have to let a project go. Move on. Work on something else.

I have the wonderful Gary McCluskey doing the cover art which I will show when ready. And I have set up blogs over here to try and introduce readers to the world of Logansville through one of the main characters here –

http://lucylanereporter.blogspot.ca/

https://lucylanereporter.wordpress.com/

The target date for release is going to be September 20th. My birthday, a sort of present to myself if you will.

Updates to come…

Ta Da!

It’s done.

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The last four years have culminated into a professionally edited, structurally edited, proofread, and polished manuscript.

The novel, Dead by Midnight, is based off a short story I wrote years ago. Many of the people who read it messaged me and asked for it to be converted into novel length. At first, naïve as I was, I figured it would be easy.

It was not.

There are at least two dozen versions of the book – and I still have no idea which one is best. Each little change, which was done for the betterment of the book, felt strange to make. When I look back at the first draft, I can see so many amateur mistakes. I am also smart enough to admit that even this fortieth draft is likely full of amateur mistakes.

What I can say about it though, is that I am damn proud of it. But now begins the hard part. The querying process. Me, the author, sends out as many queries as I can to the agents who represent the genre I am writing in (which to be honest this book falls under New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism, Humor, and a few others) and then wait for the form rejections. This leads me to fear my inbox and have a strange sense of anticipation at the same time. I also eat more chocolate than usual.

Over the years, I have queried agents with other works and have earned a personal response from a few of them. I know this sounds like a bit of sarcasm, but it is not. I understand that they get flooded with hundreds of queries a week and only those that shine will get plucked by their assistants and forwarded.

I have no idea what will happen this time. But I can say with absolute confidence that it has been a labor of love. I am proud of this book. And I owe a huge thanks to CS Nelson who has become a sort of writing motivator. I would have given up long ago.

Tomorrow I start another class toward my Editing Certificate. Technical Writing. Not the most exciting stuff, but from what I have seen so far it will keep my busy. Later on, I take Structural Editing and Stylistic Editing, which I am looking forward to. By the end of the year, I will have completed eight courses and be left with 3 to complete next year. Phew!

In the meantime, I will work on the sequel to the book I just finished editing – the rough draft is done it just needs some editing and because of everything I have learned in the last year, I have a good idea where to start.

So what is the point of this mish mash of a post?

Working with a structural editor was the best decision I ever made.

Querying sucks.

Classes keep me busy.

Keep writing until you think it’s good, then go back and edit it.

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Working With a Structural/Developmental Editor

So the last few months, or more, I have been silent on here. Not just because I have no idea how to use WordPress without getting a headache, but because I have been busy with classes and rewrites.

I participated in a Twitter pitch contest. My tagline got the attention of a few agents. “This is it.” I thought. Finally, I’m going to get an agent.

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This obviously did not happen. What did happen was a very nice agent sent me a well thought out response. She told me she liked the concept, but the story needed work. She recommended I work with a writing group or hire a structural/developmental editor if I could.

Where I live, there are no writing groups, and I really want this book to do well. It has been a labor of love for me the last four years. I made a mistake and fell in love with the idea, the characters, and am protective of it.

My search for an editor began. Now, having taking some courses on editing, I knew prices would be high. Finding a structural/developmental editor is not as easy as finding a traditional editor. The prices were higher, but when I read what they do I understood why. At least for some people.

I was quoted prices of 3,000 by one person who had no resume to speak of, only did one pass, and no talking on phone or Skype. Another person responded to me three months after my inquiry and was upset I had gone with someone else before waiting for their response. A different one told me it would take a week or so and would cost around 4,000. Knowing what I knew, that was not going to be a very good edit and far too much money.

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Well, there went that. The issue for me was not the money; it was that I felt none of them were very professional. That’s when I went searching around on the HWA website and found Nancy Holder (she has an intimidating resume, wrote the novelization of Crimson Peak, and knows her stuff). I contacted her, not sure what to expect.

She responded within a few days, was up front, funny, kind, and most of all professional. Her rates were reasonable considering her resume – made me really wonder what some of the other editors were thinking, and made me feel bad for anyone who hired them.

So, I did not hesitate and jumped at the opportunity to work with Nancy. She offered an initial read through of the first part with a note on her impressions. If there was something I did not like, the contract could be terminated, and she would keep a small portion of the payment. Needless to say after I read through her notes, and ideas on how to improve the story, I did not terminate anything.

She also offered two Skype sessions to talk about the story, for me to ask any questions, to get clarification on anything I might be confused on, and get a better feel for the story.

This made all the difference in the world. She was funny, reassuring, and kind. When I received the full edit, and notes – I admit to wanting to cry. It was so much work. So much work. But I knew from our initial conversation, and the changes I had made on the first part, the book was already greatly improved. She had managed to pull out the story I wanted to tell.

What I had done over the years was have several friends read it, each one having different ideas and input. The end result being a mash-up of genres and writing styles. When I explained to her the story I wanted to tell. The world I wanted to build. She got it, and weeded out all the parts that were not me.

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As soon as I realized my story, the one I had been wanting to tell for so long was visible, I was ecstatic. All the work was still there, but I was happy to do it. I handled it in bite size pieces, not wanting to overwhelm myself.

When I finished a feeling of accomplishment took over.  Now I await the final read through and notes  – then do some more work, and will have a professionally edited kick ass manuscript too submit to that agent who started me down this path all those months ago. I hope she likes this version, but if not I now have faith in the book. I know it is far better than what I was pitching a year ago, and am crossing all my fingers and toes in hopes it will do well.

So, why write this post?

Two reasons –

1 – If you ever decided to hire a developmental/structural editor – make sure you are getting your money’s worth. Ask for referrals, ask for a sample, ask how long they have been doing it, ask everything!

2 – When you do get an editor, be prepared for a lot of feedback, good and bad. Remember, these people are trying to get your book in the best possible shape for it to succeed in the big leagues. Be prepared for a lot of work.  Remember, you will learn from them and your next book will be written using what you have learned. In the end, it is worth it.

What to write? How to write? When to admit you need help.

I see a lot of posts, memes, tweets, and other assorted outlets of social media claiming to write stories that follow the new trend. There are two problems with this. First, they expect every writer to be a trend setter because who knows what the next trend will be. Second, they contradict all the other posts, memes, tweets, and other assorted outlets of social media telling you to write the story you want to tell.

For a few years now I have been working on a series. I love the premise. I have written three books so far and fall in love with the characters a little more each time. I want to succeed as a writer, I do not think there are many people who write that hope to fail. Writing books is a lot of work. A labor of love. A writer putting themselves out there to be praised, criticized, ridiculed, adored, and an assortment of other possibilities.

After a full year of rejections from agents I got an email from one who liked the premise and recommended I work with a developmental editor. I had no idea what that mean if I am being honest. So, I did my research. I found several people, many of which were charging upwards of three to four thousand dollars. A bit deep for my pockets.

Then I came across a name in a group I am a member of. I looked at her resume and was instantly intimidated. I sent her a message and we spoke about the process, what she would do, what I would do, how long it would take, and so forth. I have to say, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

She is professional, knows what she is doing, changed the way I write, has taught me so much in such a short time, and soon when I get the rest of the edits I know I will learn more.

I know there are no guarantees that this edit will get me an agent, but it is a step in the right direction – one I am happy to take with this editor.

I will try to write more about the process here, but blogging is not my strong point.

Querying and Rejection…

First off, I have been remiss in posting with any sort of regularity, and wow that sounds like I need more fiber. Anyways, I shall try and remedy that, and post about why I have not been blogging a whole lot. See, I have been querying agents, hard, and getting rejected, not as hard.

For what seems like the better part of the last century, I have been sending queries to agents. I admit my first attempts were clumsy and embarrassing. I shiver to think about it and am working on denial. The rejections came within a few hours to almost a year later.

See, that’s what happens when you write a crappy query letter, don’t know that your first five pages are all that matter, and have no bio to speak of.

However, over the years I have made some truly great friends. The writing community is a wonderful one. Sure it has its issues like but that’s part of the charm. I wouldn’t trade it in for the world. Being able to talk books, writing, and harass people who have talent but are too shy to do anything with it, is fun.

These friends, (Chris, you have to know you are my number 1 on the list), have been supportive, reassuring, critical, insightful, and no matter what, have always been there for me and encouraged me when I get one rejection too many. They refuse to let me set my laptop on fire or eat my keyboard.

They keep me sane and grounded in a really tough, cutthroat, and picky business.

Now, with some experience under my belt and a bio that is not an embarrassment, I get asked for partials, and a few fulls. My rejections are personal, kind, and at times educational.

Querying is not for everyone. You need a thick skin. You need to know that the “form rejection” is the norm. You need to know that it takes years to be able to craft one that causes an agent to quirk a brow and continue reading. You need to know the “business is subjective.” You need to know this is based on my experience.

I love writing. Some people say I’m good at it, others just smile and nod. All I know is I love my books. I love the characters I have created. I will continue to write and query when my skin has grown back from the last round of rejections. I will put myself out there, because as a writer, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?