Blue Violet: Excerpt #3 – Family Project

This is my final excerpt post before I publish the book.  I am on my final round of clean up edits with Wendy, my editor, this week, and hope (fingers crossed) to have the book published sometime the week of August 20th!!!!

So without further ado, here’s the final excerpt:

“Well, at least they picked a nice place to live,” a low voice grumbled.
Ellie jumped and let out a little yelp. Then she turned to see her twin brother standing by the back door. “You came!” she squealed as she flung herself into his arms.
 Griffin hugged her back, his bronze muscular body engulfing Ellie’s petite frame. His golden blond hair, cropped shorter than the current trend, was a stark contrast to Ellie’s long, ebony locks. To look at the two of them together, one would never think they were related, let alone twins. When they were little, their mother had teasingly dubbed them Artemis and Apollo after the sibling Greek gods associated with the moon and the sun, the night and the day.
Griffin pulled back and regarded her silently with solemn concern clouding his tawny, almost leonine eyes. With a sigh of frustration, he glanced away.
“I won’t have anything to do with these people, Ellie,” he eventually replied. “But I also won’t leave you alone. You’re the only family I’ve got.”  His expression was resigned as he added, “I guess you counted on that fact.”
“No… but I hoped. You know things just don’t work without you, Griff.” She gave him another big hug to emphasize her words. “I’m so glad you decided to come. And I won’t push you to get involved with my… little project.”
Leading him out of the kitchen into the main floor of the house, Ellie couldn’t keep the chuckle out of her voice as she pointed and said, “Your room’s right down that hall…the master bedroom.”
“Nice pick for the house, Sis,” he said as he moved toward where she’d pointed.
“Hey, it’s cozy,” she called after him. “And it’s bigger than it looks on the outside.”
The three story house appeared to be deceptively small, and because it sat fairly high up on the hill, it had an unhindered view of the entire valley. There was a spacious wrap-around porch from which to enjoy the beautiful scenery, but with all the snow, Ellie hadn’t spent much time out there yet. Even so, she’d caught glimpses of the wildlife from the panoramic windows, including some elk and even a bear. It was quaint, comfy, and unlike any place she’d lived. Which was saying something given how long she’d been alive. Ellie adored it.
Returning to the kitchen, Ellie choked back a laugh when she heard her sibling’s low grumble of annoyance. When she’d moved in a few weeks ago, she’d set up his room exactly as she knew he’d want it, hoping Griffin couldn’t stay away too long. At the sound of his footsteps in the hall, she swiftly hid her amusement.
“So, Griff, what are you planning to do while we’re here?”
He took a seat at one of the three stools at the bar situated between the kitchen and the dining room. Reaching for a bowl of candy he popped a couple into his mouth.
“Why do I have a terrible feeling that you’ve already got something lined up for me?” Griffin eyed his sister suspiciously.
She threw him an innocent look over her shoulder. “Not really.”
“What’s your set up?”
She lowered her gaze and grimaced. “I’m a student at the high school…Again. Today was my first day, actually.”
Griffin’s eyebrows shot up. “Why on Earth would you do that willingly?”
“Three of the people in the family still attend high school—”
Griffin held up his hands. “Forget it. I don’t want to know.”
“There’s too much I need to tell you,” Ellie confessed, shaking her head.
“Jeez, Elle,” he growled. “You’ve only been at school one day. How much trouble could you get into in that amount of time?”

Social Media for a 1st Time Author

In one of my very first posts on this blog I talked about my initial foray into the use of social media as a self-marketing tool for a first time self publishing author.  I am now 6 weeks, 18 blog posts, 73 tweets, and multiple Facebook entries and Pinterest boards into the process.  I have to say that my social media experience so far has been interesting, entertaining, and educational.  Each type of media has different uses, different needs, and different management. Here are a few things I’ve learned about each so far:

Blog
The research shows that it’s best to blog every single day about a specific topic. The specific topic part I have. My blog so far has been extremely fun to write.  I’ve enjoyed chronicling my experiences with the various aspects of self publishing – from writing, to editing. to book cover design, to social media.  But a daily cadence is something I can’t maintain. I try to blog about every two to three days. And that is working well so far I have enough content for that frequncy. Time is harder to come by, so sometimes it’s more like four days. The stats on the blog have been interesting. I have only one “signed up” follower so far. But around 700 page views from countries around the world. So it’s hard to tell how much is being read and by whom, but incredibly cool to think about who I might be reaching.

Facebook
The research I’ve found on Facebook shows that you should only post 5-7 times a week and at least two of those posts should be specific to your business. That I can keep up with. I use Facebook in a few ways. I make announcements – book cover reveal, edits progress etc. I toss questions out to my followers – requests for ideas or feedback. I put up links to my blog posts. My 50-some-odd followers on Facebook – those that have “liked” my author page – are so far all people I know. The stats on FB are actually pretty awesome. Since it’s a public site, it’s open to anyone to view even if they haven’t liked the page.  So I can see how many people saw a specific post. How viral that post was. And even demographics of the people viewing my page.  Like with the blog, cool to think about who I might be reaching.

Twitter
This form of social media has been a bit of a revelation. I’ve blogged and facebooked before, but I had never tweeted a day in my life before six weeks ago.  Research on Twitter has said that posting roughly once every hour is the best way to go.  Can’t keep up with that, so twice a day is as good as it gets.  I’m still working on my tweets. I’m not a funny person in general, let alone in 144 characters or less. What’s been fascinating to me is that almost every single one of my 120-some-odd followers is a total stranger.  Most of them are fellow indie authors. I have particularly enjoyed the posts from my followers (most of whom I’ve followed back). It’s been a surprising source of information, tips, good reads, and entertainment.   A good majority of my “oooh that’s a good idea – I’ll try that” moments as a 1st time self publishing author have come from finds via twitter.

Pinterest
I’m only just getting started on pinterest. I’m finding this tool to be particularly helpful to me personally.  I am using it to save pages related to being an author.  Some of my boards are “promotional” – one board is a link to all my author sites. I have a board for Blue Violet which includes the book cover reveal, a link to Estes Park where it’s set, links to actors who look a little like my characters, etc.  Then I have “informational” boards – favorite books, etc.  Then I have my “self publishing” boards which include links to much of my research on self publishing.  I only have four followers so far, one of which is my brother. But it’s definitely been handy for me.

I am new to using these social media tools and still have a lot to learn and a lot of tweaking to do on my own person style and use.  There are a TON of other social media tools out there as well. But my first six weeks have been well worth the effort put in. I think I’ll keep plugging at this a little longer.

BTW… if you’re reading this, you clearly know how to get to my blog.  But if you want to follow me on any of my author sites, here are the links:

http://www.facebook.com/Abigail.Owen.Books
https://twitter.com/AOwenBooks
http://pinterest.com/abbyowen/

Book Cover Part #2 – Decisions, Decisions

In a previous blog post titled “Book Cover Part #1 – Getting Started” I discussed steps 1-3 (out of 5) that I am following to create the book cover for my first publication – Blue Violet – due out this August.

Step 1 was researching what’s needed for a book cover – basics like size of the image, typical covers for this genre, etc.  Steps 2 and 3 were hiring and the communicating with an artist.  Now on to the final two steps!

Step 4 – Edit the Book Cover Proofs
This was a back and forth process over the last two weeks or so.  Did I mention that I worked for a web design company – with Jason – for five years? Consequently I often have a ton of ideas I want to try out, most of which are subtle variations – a LOT of variations – on a main idea. Here’s a short walk of what Jason and I went through…

  • First – Jason first confirmed an image for the flower with me. He found a picture that is exactly what I was seeing in my mind. Then I got my first look at the book cover idea starting to come together. (See below image.)

 

  • Second – I asked for the wording to be darker/larger. I suggested keeping the B & V in the title as the original fonts, but changing the rest of the letters to a different font. I requested seeing what it would look like with some “subtle swirlies” around the flower. I really debated that since the flower alone is such a pretty image. It becomes a question of preferring a more minimalist look or full on frou-frou. Below is what I received back.
  • Third – So I have discovered through my wedding, the birth of my daughter, and now my book cover that I am a fan of full on frou-frou. The swirlies are definitely staying. I wanted the title to stand out a bit more. So we played with even larger text or offsetting the text, and tossed around a few other ideas like shadowing or bevels. Also added a small line of text at the bottom identifying Blue Violet at the 1st book of the Svatura series. (I’m already working on book #2!) Below is one of the options that came out of that round – my favorite of the options.
  • I only asked to see it with one other change – some swirlies in the upper right corner. I debated this as well. The flower swirles come out of it, hinting at vines or leaves. So swirlies coming out of the corner might look odd.

Step 5 – Decide on a Book Cover
Without further ado, the book cover for Blue Violet is…

The Misadventures of Talking Heads

While my first round of edits for my upcoming release, Blue Violet, revealed the need to bring tension forward in the story as well as the need to show instead of tell (see previous blog about my new love of editing), round two of the edits has revealed my bad habit of writing talking heads.

Talking heads happen when your characters are in conversation but make no movement – unless absolutely necessary to the story line. In my case, my characters had a lot of facial expressions to go along with their talking, but nothing else.

This is something that makes complete sense to me now that Wendy, my editor, has pointed it out, but I honestly don’t think I would have noticed this issue on my own.  And it makes such a huge difference – in a very subtle way – to the narrative.

People move.  Think about conversations in which you’ve engaged.  Don’t you think you’d be incredibly creeped out if you both stood stock-still only changing facial expressions while you chat. Next time you’re in the middle of a conversation pay attention to the body movements the participants make.  Even if you’re not engaged in an activity like eating, you still will see actions like shifting from foot to foot, crossing or uncrossing of arms, scratching, biting nails, looking around the room, etc.

I’ve actually had a lot of fun (I’m a geek I know) going back through the conversation scenes in Blue Violet and adding small physical actions in between the dialogue, and sometimes even supporting the dialogue. I’ve had to answer questions like: Why would they do this at this moment? Is this is just a “getting comfortable” action? Or should they do something that reveals an emotion? Is this an action this character does habitually?

I love that with this very small addition to the dialogue sequences I have a chance to make my characters more human, to enhance the display of their emotions and reactions, and sometimes even add to who the character is by supplying mannerisms.

Huge thanks to Wendy for this piece of editing and advice! I will absolutely be incorporating this into my writing from here on out – although I’m sure it’ll take practice putting it in automatically.

The Appeal of Writing Super Powers

Who doesn’t love a good super power? Let’s be honest… super powers are awesome! They rock! The are totally cool! They are, for lack of a better term, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious… and a bag of chips! Clearly I geek out on this topic.

I’m not going to get into the psychology of the mass appeal of this concept (although I’d bet the data is pretty interesting). But personally, as an author, I adore creating characters with supernatural powers because of the limitless options available. You are able to – temporarily at least – suspend reality and allow your character the ability to do anything within the realms of your imagination.

Super powers can come in all sort of forms and packages. Because imagination is the only limiting factor, there’s always room for more out there. There is no way that every possible power or variation on a power has been accounted for. And since the powers themselves are limitless, the interaction between powers, use of powers, battles with powers, etc. are also fairly limitless.

As a broad example – through comic books, movies, mythology, etc. there have been a lot of fire-based superheros (or villains) out there: Firestarter, The Human Torch, Pyro, Apollo, Ghost Rider, etc. I could go on.  But I guarantee that with a little ingenuity and a healthy imagination you can come up with a subtle variation on a fire-based superpower that hasn’t been done yet and is hella-rad. (Oh yeah… I said it.)

What I find to be trickiest about writing books with powers is the interaction between them.  Making sure that in any situation, I’m not only accounting for all the powers present but also for how the characters would use them. It’s easy to be concentrating only on your main character and forget a side-character could do something totally kick-ass in that scene, or would negate your main character’s actions in some way.

In case you’re curious… yes, my upcoming release – Blue Violet – has a ton of super powers in it. Hopefully, there are a few that you haven’t’ seen before – at least not quite like this.  SPOILER ALERT: Here are a few just to whet your curiosity: a few “typical” powers frequently seen – teleporter, telepathy, firestarter; a few on the different side – an ability to sense relationships (past, present, and future), a power manipulator, an ability to freeze anything in motion.  There’s more, but I won’t give it all away.

I’m currently thinking I will release Blue Violet in August. I can’t wait to share these powers and characters with you and see what you think!

Book Cover Part 1 – Getting Started

As I travel down this path of publishing my first book – Blue Violet – I now find myself at the point of creating a book cover.

Every blog post, article, and website I’ve seen so far has stressed the importance of a good book cover. According to a Taleist report, authors who got outside help with issues such as editing and cover design earned 34% more than the average, although 70% of respondents did not seek help. Of those who got professional help in these areas, more got help on the book cover versus the editing.

I’m already getting professional help with the editing piece. At this point I’m more than happy to shop out my book cover as well. Creating the book cover for Blue Violet has turned into a five stage process:  1- research book covers, 2- hire an artist, 3- communicate with my artist, 4- review and edit the proofs, and 5- decide on the final cover.

Stage 1 – Research
During the first stage, I found an abundance of data, opinions, and options available for the enterprising self-publisher. Here are some points and articles that I found particularly appropriate or helpful:

Size/Image Requirements (Amazon)
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has a page that details the requirements for the are for upload for eBooks:

  • Minimum of 1000 pixels on the longest side
  • Recommend that images be 2500 pixels on the longest side.
  • Ideal height/width ratio of 1.6
  • Use RGB color mode
  • If the cover is white or a very light color, add a very narrow (3-4 pixel) medium grey border to help show the edges when it shows on the white background of the Amazon website

Key Elements
Several blogs and articles listed out the key elements of an effective book cover. Most of them agreed on the same major pieces including:

  • Large title (biggest font on the cover)
  • Author’s name clear
  • Words stand out well (both color and font)
  • Art that fits the “norm” for the genre
  • Less is more – only 1-2 colors and fontsLooks good in thumbnail form (especially important for us eBook publishers)
  • Relevant to the story

Young Adult Cover Stats
Kate Hart researched YA (young adult) book covers in 2011 resulting in a ton of data on averages and typical covers in this genre. Most relevant to me were the following 2 stats:

  • Specific colors or light vs. dark are fairly well distributed across 2011 YA books.
  • If an image on the cover is not a person then it is most likely to be a filigree or a flower.

Stage 2 – Hire an Artist
I did very briefly consider using one of the many cover designers easily located on the Internet. This service seems to cost anywhere from $400-$4000. However, having worked for five years at a web design company, I have my own contacts. I am working with a very talented graphic artist – Jason Vines – to do my cover. I decided to go this route because I know him, I’m comfortable with him, I trust him and his work, and he’s reasonably priced.

Stage 3 – Communicate with My Artist
Once I’d hired Jason, the next step was to let him know the important information about the book in an effort to help him generate ideas. This part is tricky. I didn’t want to make him read the entire book. I also didn’t want to restrict his creativity by giving him rigid guidelines. But I wanted to make sure he’s got all the elements he needs to create my perfect cover.  Below is what I ended up communicating to him:

  • Book Title: Blue Violet
  • My initial idea is something really simple like a blue violet flower on a black or white background.
  • The follow-on book is titled Hyacinth (and ideas for 2 more books in the series likely titled Nightshade and Snapdragon). The book covers for each of those would be the title flowers – setting a theme for the series.
  • The first page of the book will read: All flowers have a meaning. In the Victorian era, people used flowers as a symbol to express their feelings. Blue Violet: watchfulness, faithfulness, I’ll always be true.

 

  • Genre: YA (young adult) paranormal romance
  • Setting: Rocky Mountains in Colorado / Estes Park
  • SPOILER ALERT: I won’t give you details I gave Jason, but I let him know some of the powers for my main character and antagonist (which may or may not involve wolves). I gave him details that would potentially render well in graphic form.

 

Stage 4 & 5 – Edit the Proofs / Decide on a Cover (Coming Soon!)
Jason is in the process now of creating the first pass at my book cover. I should receive several options to select from sometime in the next few weeks. After I’ve completed my work with him I’ll post on the options he provided, the edits we went through, and the final book cover design! I am extremely excited and curious to see what he comes up with!

Getting Your Writing Un-Stuck

While I am still in the process of editing (and soon self publishing!) my first book – Blue Violet – I am also in the process of writing the follow-on book – Hyacinth. A few nights ago while writing, I got utterly and completely stuck. I’m talking full on, dead-in-my-tracks, stuck. I honestly could not figure out how to get my characters from point A to point B, and what to do with either scene when we got there. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck.

Hitting that wall called writer’s block is a horrible feeling. You start to plod through your writing. The day before I knocked out ten pages in about an hour, and now I could barely get a paragraph out in the same amount of time.  I’ve hit this wall many times before. This wall has stood in my way on countless other book writing attempts resulting in failure. Until I completed Blue Violet, I honestly worried that I would never, ever finish a book. That it just wasn’t in me.

If I have learned anything, it’s that writing is a process as well as a passion. When I get stuck, I have discovered the following techniques that aid me in getting un-stuck:

Getting Your Writing Un-Stuck
1. Push Through It
I have a goal to write at least one page a night. I find that using that as a rule and pushing through, even if I eventually go back and re-write all of it, often gets me past the sticky point.
2. Skip It& Come Back
Sometime getting back in the rhythm takes a little inspiration. If you’re stuck on one part, go write a different part. Something you’ve been noodling on and just waiting to sink your teeth in to tends to be best. Come back to the sticky part later. Inspiration can follow you from one section to another.
3. Editing
Going back through what I’ve already written and starting to perfect it can often clarify a point I had forgotten or was still fuzzy on. Sometimes that discovery ends up being exactly what I needed to get me unstuck. Or sometimes editing inspires a new idea or direction – yet another solution.
4. Map It Out
Frequently I find myself lost in the journey of my writing because I don’t know where I’m going. By doing a little outlining, determining the frame of the story moving forward, even if it’s just the next few scenes, it gets me out of my sticky mess.
5. Running
For whatever reason, I do all my best thinking when I’m running. This is true if I’m working out a problem for work, for home, for my kids… or for writing. My mind clears and ideas solidify. Find the activity that does that for you – cooking? yoga? shopping? –and then go do that when you are in a dead-lock. It blows away the cobwebs.
6. Confidence
In previous attempts at writing a book, as soon as I hit the wall I would get discouraged… just one more book I wasn’t going to finish. Now that I’ve completed one, I know I can do it again. Reminding myself of that fact helps me to get through the sticky days.
In the case of a few days ago, I applied techniques 1, 5, and 6. I had a huge breakthrough on my run allowing me to not only figure out what I wanted to do in the current scene, but leading to a litany of ideas for a subsequent three to four new scenes. I actually achieved a much faster pace during that run in my excitement to get home and get it mapped out on paper.

I am a relatively new writer – and still developing my “tried and true” technique. I would love to hear what methods my fellow authors use when they hit these points in their writing. I’m always looking for new ways to get out of the quick sand.

Writing Readable Romance

Writing romance scenes is possibly one of my biggest weaknesses as a writer. So this blog entry is not a “how to” by any stretch of the imagination. This is more of a “come commiserate with me” moment.

The ironic thing is that romance books were my first love when it comes to what I prefer to read. My mom had an entire bookshelf filled with them and I was introduced early.  For the longest time I didn’t really think that the romance and paranormal genres could blend all that well. Boy howdy was I wrong about that.  There are a ton of excellent paranormal romance stories out there that prove these genres can mix very well. And what could be better than a mix of my two favorite genres.

I am still developing my techniques for dealing with the romance scenes.  These tend to be my favorite scenes in books that I read, but I find that writing them – or more specifically writing them without a ton of cheese – is much harder than I anticipated.  Given how much romance I read, you would think that I have a plethora of material in my head to pull from. But nope. Somehow when I get to writing these scenes I draw a blank.

Here are my top 3 mistakes in writing romance (so far – I’m sure I’ll find more) and how I’ve learned from them:

1. Forgetting to set the scene
I have found that romantic scenes are much easier to write if you can picture them actually happening. Part of this is leading in to a believable scene, and making the scene something that would inspire passion. In this, I find that it does help to draw from some personal experience. But all those romance novels do help as well as I’ve gone back to read my favorite scenes and figure out what it was about them that I liked and try to build on those ideas.

2. Jumping into the relationship too fast
When I start my book I know exactly what relationship my characters are going to have (even several books out). Unfortunately this makes it too easy for me to skip the “setting up the connection between the characters” build up that is necessary. I jump right in to “insta-love.”  Luckily I have my awesome editor Wendy to help me catch this mistake and go back and build some connection first. Believe it or not, in writing the “connection” scenes I actually felt my characters grow closer together. Perhaps a life lesson that the connection is potentially more important than the passion.

3. Who am I writing for?
Since I write YA – young adult – there is a very fine line to walk with how close to the racy edge you get. I originally tried to keep the idea of “my dad and my father-in-law are going to read this” in the back of my mind.  But I found that thought somehow sucked all the passion right out of my writing. Go figure. So now I’m writing romance with two thoughts in mind. My first thought is “What would I like to read in these scenes?” I tend to prefer pretty hot n’ heavy stuff, so I write the scenes first with that. Then I think, “What would I want my daughter to read when she gets older?” I then go back through the scene with that in mind and rework it from that point of view, although I’m very careful to try to still keep the original feel to the scene.

I’m still developing my methods for writing romance, and hope that I’ll continue to get better and so will my writing. You’ll have to be the judge when Blue Violet comes out soon!

Take a Walk in My Shoes

As a wife and mother of two, a full-time business analyst, an EMBA student, and an aspiring author, a question I am frequently asked is… how do I balance my life and manage to fit it all in?  The answer is… I don’t. Every single day something gets missed, gets neglected, gets left until tomorrow, or falls off the “to do” list entirely.

Take today for example… We just got home late last night from an awesome family vacation to St. Louis. I am relaxed, happy, ready to hop back into my daily life. And then I take a look at what that means just for today…

I start the day with my house in complete chaos. We had my son’s 5th birthday party just before leaving for vacation, so we left the house in a bit of a wreck, and then there’s the unpacking to do. But all of that gets placed on hold. This morning I need to get me ready and then get the kids up, dressed, and to school – with a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up brownie bites for my son’s class to celebrate his birthday. But wait a sec! First I need to make sure my son is in (clean and matching) PJs because today is PJ day for his class. Luckily it’s pancake day at school – so breakfast for the kids is handled.

Then it’s on to work where I have 200 emails waiting for me (not an exaggeration) and a week’s worth of catching up to do. The work “to do” list also includes a Q3 finalized forecast for my account, and a communication package on the current supply outlook, among about ten other things. Of course I squeeze this all in the morning hours since I’m in meetings from 1pm to 4:30pm. Lunch at the desk today. The good news is I finished everything that absolutely had to get done for work today, so no after-hours required.

After work I make a trip over to my friend Krista’s house to pick up dinner. She cooks dinner for us three nights a week (bless her). It’s a HUGE time savings for us. Then it’s home to pop it in the oven. While it cooks and I wait for my husband to get home with the kids, I start trying to make a small dent on the mess that is my house. I multi-task by calling Mom and filling her in on our vacation while I pick up.

Hubby’s playing volleyball tonight. I feed the kids – a bite-by-bite battle, and then it’s the bedtime routine. I squeeze the writing of this blog post in while snuggling with my kids during the TV-watching portion of bedtime. After the kids are in bed, I settle on the couch with my computer (husband’s night to clean the kitchen) and work while I catch up on my missed TV shows. We have a quick chat about his job and our current weekly schedule of “duties.”

Then I get down to it. First I work on EMBA stuff. I’ve been lucky this week because the 4th of July holiday meant a week-long break between classes at school. But the next class starts this Friday and I have some pre-work to get through. I divide up all the reading for the week to spread it out over the next few days, and spend an hour reading two of the articles.

After that, I pop open another forecast for work (I just can’t help myself – it’s a good time to get ahead of some things for later in the week) and knock that out for the next hour. Once that’s done, I open up Hyacinth – the follow-on book to Blue Violet.  At the moment I’m waiting on the next round of Blue Violet edits from Wendy, so it’s a perfect time to get some more of book two written.  I try to get about three pages a night in when I can. Tonight, one page is all I have time for.

Finally I hit on my social media “to dos” for self-publishing.  A tweet here, a facebook post there, publish this blog post. I am categorically NOT a late-night person, so it’s upstairs, get out my gear for my early morning run, get ready for bed, read for about twenty minutes to clear my mind, and try to fall asleep.

You’ll notice that the house, while it got a tiny bit more picked up, is still a disaster area. Unpacked luggage is strewn throughout, contents spilled haphazardly on the floor. I would have preferred to knock out 10 pages of the new book, but only got to 1. I didn’t get my Tuesday evening run in. Still need to pay some bills, make a dentist appointment, get my passport application process started, and get some cash to pay my friend Janice $20. My very patient mother-in-law has been waiting for dimensions of the windows in my daughter’s room for about three months now (she’s making us curtains).

But all of that will have to wait until tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. I consider today to be a very successful day. I spent what time I had with my family with them. I got most everything done that I wanted to. What’s left over is not urgent. If your life is anything as crazy as mine is, I’d love to hear what techniques you use to keep on top of it. I believe (cliche alert) the trick is to realize you are not a failure, to live your life every day to the fullest, and to not sweat the small stuff (and sometimes not sweat the big stuff too).

Stop, Rewind, Redo – Examples of Edits

My first full round of editing with Wendy is complete (wahoo!) – received, applied, and full post-application read through – check, check, and check. The updated manuscript for Blue Violet is now in her capable hands for round two of the editing process. I’ve already blogged about some of the more frequent and favorite edits and comments I received from Wendy during round one. I thought it might also be interesting to share some examples of some small portions of the manuscript that got reworked a bit based on the feedback received. 

Below are two small “before” and “after” passage examples.  These paragraphs may get changed up even more during the round two editing process, but I have to say that my personal opinion is the changes so far are an improvement on the original.  I am especially curious to see is if during the writing of my follow-on book to Blue Violet I am able to apply what I have learned during this editing process as I write. I hope so. 
Example #1 – Tightening up a wordy paragraph that’s somewhat confusing

Original Text: She and Griffin were extraordinary even by the standards of other people born with these types of abilities. According to their mother, the abilities they had were genetic, passed down from parent to child. It didn’t always happen that a child would inherit the power, but it was a dominant trait, and therefore any parent with a power would usually pass it on to any child he or she had. If the child did inherit the ability, they would have the same power as the parent, although often with a subtle twist or variation on it. Of course, people with these abilities were so rare that most only had one power because they’d only had one parent with a power to pass on.

Wendy’s Edits: Various edits in the above, plus a comment that the paragraph still needed tightening even after her edits, as well as previous suggestion to give “people with powers” a name.
Text Redone: She and Griffin were extraordinary, even compared to other Svatura. Abilities were genetic, passed from parent to child typically with a subtle variation. Of course, people with these powers were so rare, most only had one.
Example #2 – Changing “telling” into “showing”

Original Text: Another complication she had discovered while listening in on the various thoughts at the table was that Adelaide, Addison, and Nate were clearly a part of this high school clique.

Wendy’s Edits: Can you show us this? Show her “hearing” these thoughts that she is picking up? Even a few sentences…
Text Redone: As she listened to their thoughts, she caught a very subtle strain that snagged her attention.
…Delia better be right, that this girl is nice, thought one girl.
…Man, Nate was right.  She’s hot, a boy was thinking.
…As long as she doesn’t hit on Brian, she’s cool, thought another girl.  In fact several of the girls at the table had thoughts along that line.
…I wonder why Adelaide’s acting so weird. She’s too shy to approach someone she doesn’t know, was a finally train of thought Ellie picked up on.
Adelaide, Lila, and Nate were clearly a part of this high school clique. In fact, based on a few passing thoughts of the people at the table, it seemed as if it was Adelaide who’d helped to orchestrate Ellie’s invitation to join them for lunch. Ellie silently gave Adelaide top marks for skills of subtle manipulation, and decided to play along.