Sunday, December 31, 2006

My busy brain. . .

Wow, I just noticed that my last post was on Dec. 12, 2006. At the time, I didn't realize that was the actual anniversary of the day I started "Star Sons"! Now it's complete, going through critique on a writing website and after the post-critique final polish, I'll be searching for an agent and/or publisher!

Meanwhile, on Dec. 29, 2006, I completed the first draft of Book 2 of the "Star Sons" saga, which still has no title. This is the novel I worked on as my NaNoWriMo project, which is now up to around 105,000+ words. I have to go back and punch up some descriptions and other stuff to complete it. I pushed the plot forward as fast as I could, trying a different style of writing for this one, rather than my normal "write a bunch, next day re-read that and polish, polish, polish, then maybe write some more if there's time" style of writing. It will be interesting to re-read it from the beginning and see how "polished" or "unpolished" my first draft is!

Someone on my HPRefinersFire Yahoo group said my imagination must be very crowded, after I'd posted that book 1 is being polished, book 2 is finished and book 3 is clamoring to be written! I had to agree, my imagination IS crowded! That led to this post, which I'm copying here from my Yahoo group:

I start a novel with the characters in mind, a basic conflict in mind, and the ending, as well, but then have to hope I can weave all that together in a coherent whole and make it something people will CARE about! There's a lot of "dancing on ice" involved, hoping I don't hit a "thin patch" and fall through a hole (not being able to finish the story, or writing something that's BORING or that nobody can care about - ACK!). I think what I've written in book 2 is going to be an exciting read - sure hope so, anyway!!

You would not BELIEVE how crowded my brain is!!! Yet when I'm going to sleep now, with no scenes to plan, I feel quite lonely. Ethan, Jake, Laurel, Casey and Merlin have kept me entertained, excited, involved and curious for over a year now (I started "Star Sons," the first book, Dec. 12, 2005). I'm TRYING to give things a rest now so I can polish accurately and get some SCULPTING done (writing kind of takes over mylife and my art business just coasts along while the writing has control of my brain. Good thing I do editions instead of one-of-a-kind sculptures or I'd be in big trouble!) It's been strange since I wrote "the end" to book 2 how lonely I've been in my dreams, which are usually great places to plot scenes. Kind of hard to switch gears.

Now I'm getting ready to make some lists of things I want to "punch up" in both books to make the characters even more sympathetic, more flawed, more three-dimensional, more INTERESTING. I'm having trouble making Ethan "flawed" - he's such a hero and I love him so. His biggest flaw is his sense of responsiblity, which makes him, even as an older teen and young man in his early twenties, "stodgier" than his brother Jake - at least in Jake's eyes. Ethan is shy, Jake's outgoing, but Jake's an impulsive rascal and in some ways is more "dimensional" than Ethan. I have to make sure Ethan isn't a one-note hero, a cardboard cutout (although he isn't to ME -- I have to make sure he's as rich a character to READERS as he is to me). Ethan's other "flaw"is his temper, which can result in things exploding without his sending spells in any direction, so he's a very controlled person even as a child. But I'm gonna have to let his temper explode a bit more (and earlier in both books), I think, to show how dangerous it can be and make it obvious how good a person he is for being able to control it as well as he does.

Anyway, that's how Ethan and Jake are entertaining me today - trying to show me their flaws and foibles as well as their good sides, so I can enhance their characters in the book. <<

So now I'm off to work on those lists and start incorporating the critiques of book 1 from that writing site into the chapters (which is MUCH harder to do at times than it sounds!!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's been a while!

It's been a while since I posted, but I've been busy! As you can see from the NaNoWriMo icon, I'm a WINNER with my NaNo novel coming in at 55,506 by the 28th of November, when I had to quit writing for a while due to real life pressures. That novel is the second in the "Star Sons" series and now stands at over 82,000 words. It's light on descriptive passages right now because I used the impetus of NaNo to push the plot forward, which is a different way of writing for me.

A couple of days ago, I posted some questions about fantasy battles on three different websites--my Yahoo group (HPRefiners Fire, the Hatrack River Writers Group, and Critters Newsgroups. I've gotten an amazing array of answers to my questions at these three sites. The first one, my Yahoo group, is made up of readers of my Harry Potter fanfiction, many of whom are eager to read my original work as well. Many of my readers are also writers of fanfiction, some more serious than others. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, so they have lots of interesting expertise to share in many fields. The second and third groups are writers message boards. The people posting there are either published or hoping-to-be-published authors. Their suggestions and opinions are interesting, valuable and much appreciated by me.

The trick, when asking for opinions or suggestions for your writing, is to remember that everything any of these folks say is their own opinion. They haven't read my stories. They only know what I've told them in a post, which may or may not be a good representation of the story itself.

Sometimes it's hard to trust yourself, to trust that what you've written is actually of interest to other people. That's why I'm so glad I started out writing fanfiction, where I could upload completed stories and get instant feedback. Doing those fanfiction stories helped me gain confidence in my writing so that when someone does make a comment that leaves me wondering why I'm bothering, or if I get stuck and make my OWN comments about "why am I bothering???" I know I actually am a decent writer. So kudos to my fanfiction readers! And thanks to those on the various message boards who offered suggestions to help me out.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Off to a good start!

The first day of Nano is over and I wrote 4680 words! Yay! Now, if I can keep up that pace, I might actually manage the 50,000 words by the end of the month, even with the interruption of my 10 day business trip, Thanksgiving and life in general. Onward!! You can watch my word count progress via the icon in the sidebar, if it's working - sure hope it's working! LOL!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

And we're off!

It's November 1st, and the beginning of the National Novel Writing Month. So far, I've written about an hour and have 740 words. I can't even do the math to see how many years it will take me to write 50,000 words at the rate of 700 words an hour - wait, yes, I can! Ah, it will take 7.15 hours to write 50,000 words at a 700 word an hour rate. I can knock that novel out in ONE DAY! Yeah, right. . . .

Anyway, good luck to all Nano participants! I tried to install the Participant icon here, but it didn't work for some reason. Oh well. Off to work again!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Just in time!!!!

I JUST THIS MINUTE finished the serious revision I was doing on "Star Sons" - POV problems are worked out, chapters have been divided differently, writing has been heightened, deepened, intesified and I have not counted the total words. The total chapters will be 52, I think. I need to renumber the chapters after dividing chapter 5 into three chapters long after moving ahead. To avoid any MORE confusion, I kept the numbering system the same. Now I'll go back and straighten out those problems and see how many thousands of words I've gone beyond my 120,000 goal! Ack! But first, maybe I'll ride my horse if the arena's dried out enough (we've had rains of biblical proportions recently!)

Now the decks are cleared for me to concentrate on my Nano project, which will be the sequel to "Star Sons." I'll just count up the words I've already written and write 50,000 words beyond that to earn my "winner" icon! That's the plan, anyway!

Friday, October 27, 2006

YAY!

WHEW! The break I took to whine on here and putter around online was a GREAT help! As soon as I went back to the section of chapter 39 that had me stumped, I saw the solution! And it was EASY!!!!!!!!!! YAAAAY!

This whole experience is just testimony to the benefits of taking breaks!! Procrastination can be a good thing if you do it right!!

Change in plans

Well, that story I came up with for Nano has been shelved for the time being. I am actually STRESSING about not getting any writing done on my second novel, with all the editing I'm doing on the first. So, the Nano novel will be "Star Sons Book 2" - I need to think of a title, oh well. At least while trying to work out what to do for Nano, I realized I want to do my father's WWII memoirs as a screenplay. There's something else to work on in the future. But first I want to finish at least the first two books of "Star Sons"!!!! So "Star Sons II" is the Nano book. Good. Decision made, stressing over that is finished now. Yay.

Talk about stress. I'm quite frustrated with my POV problem in SS - I have some scenes where I want to see into *both* brothers' heads - that's one of the interesting things about having TWO main characters/heroes, IMO, seeing things from both points of view, but everyone who knows more about writing than I do tells me "Nope! Can't do that! One POV per scene! That's ALL!" Argh. I'm up to chapter 39 now (formerly chapter 17) in revisions and have the problems fixed, including a major rewrite of chapter 2 (so now two versions exist and will continue to do so until I decide which I like better.) Actually, the chapter I'm on should be #42, because I decided yesterday to divide chapter 5 into three chapters - so now those files are "Chapter 5," "Chapter 5a (will be 6)," and "Chapter 5b (will be 7)." Renumbering all the chapters and making certain I don't erase any by mistake will be another nightmare. But don't worry, I have everything backed up.

Maybe part of my stress is that it's been raining so long. I HATE HATE HATE gray days. And I'm stuck at home because we have workmen installing something (a two day job) and I can't leave. I'd like to just go to the grocery store, y'know? Just a change of scene, see some people, that kind of thing, but no, I'm stuck here. Ah well, I'll survive. I'd survive better if it wasn't gray and soggy outside!! *sigh*

Pardon my whining. The news isn't all bad - the revisions really SING! But it's so HARD getting them there. Writing is FUN! Revising is hell.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Progress!

A lot has changed since my last post. I've been working on the problems in "Star Sons" and am now up to chapter 20 (which used to be chapter 10 - some chapters have been broken into two parts, one into three, others left as they were; the POV problems are being worked out; and I'm polishing the socks off of everything as I go). I've come up with a story idea for Nano - just the characters, setting and ending so far (which is how most of my novels start out). I've tried every kind of "outlining" or "scene planning" or "plot diagramming" system I've heard of recently and every single one of them blocks me entirely. But put a blank computer screen in front of me and a cooperative keyboard at my fingertips, and the words just fly! So I'm not too worried (she said hopefully! LOL!). I hope my story idea is "enough" to spin a novel out of, but we'll see as I go along!

I tried to write "Star Sons" conservatively (meaning "tightly" - not a lot of words, not following every possible story thread that presents itself) because I know I can write TONS of words in a very short time. Now I'm not worrying so much about keeping the word count down (I have deleted an entire scene and tighten some others so far). It was 115,000 words before I started this draft of it. Hopefully I won't go over 120,000, but with the editing I'm doing as I go along, the word counts aren't varying TOO much -- so far -- hopefully!

The Nano novel will be a completely different thing, not part of the "Star Sons" saga. I'm frustrated about not having time to work on the second novel, which is SCREAMING to get out, but I want the first one polished while I have all the things I want to fix fresh in my mind. I can't do the second one as my Nano novel because you're not supposed to work on anything that's already started, and I have the first two chapters and some of the climax already written for "Star Sons II" (whatever its title may be. . .).

"Star Sons" is being critted on Notebored.com now and Boris and Pyx, in particular, have been a great help so far. It's amazing the things I think readers don't really need to see that the people who read it WANT to see. I'll have to be careful about that, because fulfilling such desires in readers is what made my HP novels go to 50 page chapters and over a million words for the two novels together! I can't be that "generous" with "Star Sons" or no publisher will ever take it.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A new direction???

As I just said in a reply to Sherri's NaNoWriMo comment, I learned at Context that stories with male protagonists are rare in the YA market, so they should have a better chance of selling there. I hadn't planned on aiming my story at the YA market. The second novel will have some sex in it (dunno how far I'm gonna go with that, how much I'm gonna show, but it's there), but I'm told sex and violence aren't a problem in YA books. I suppose I have some research to do to see what's acceptable in the YA market. My heroes start out at 16 and 19, and are 17 and 20 by the end of the book. I don't know if that's too old for the YA market or not. I guess I'd better find out!

Another thing I learned at Context was that I REALLY enjoy screenwriting and it comes easily to me! So that's something I plan to explore!

And then there's the technical stuff I learned there, which means I'm rewriting "Star Sons" completely to fix some things that can't be just fixed here and there - the whole book needs to be gone through with a fine-toothed comb to get all these things correct. I have to tighten up some POV issues, change where some of my chapters break, etc. OH boy. . .such fun. . .argh. . . . And NaNoWriMo is coming soon and I have NO IDEAS. Well, I have a few, but still, this stuff with my novel has me so distracted, I can't think of anything else right now. It will all work out in time, I'm sure. I just have to keep plugging away at it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm off!

I'm off to Columbus, Ohio, for the Context 19 writers' conferences. They were considerate enough to ensure the conferences didn't overlap, so I signed up for ALL of them! Critiques of the first couple of chapters of my novel by my peers and some pros; a screenwriting workshop; paranormal romance workshop; etc., etc. And they're roasting author Mike Resnick Saturday evening, too. Should be fun!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

NaNoWriMo

Well, I'm gonna have a go at writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I've signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My participant icon is SUPPOSED to be on here - I tried to upload it. We'll see if it "took" or not!! Oh, and I joined the Dayton NaNoWriMo group - I'll try to get to their meetings. It will be nice to have a face-to-face writing group to meet with regularly - I think! (Never having been part of one, I have no idea if it will be helpful or just give me more to be confused about! :))

Meanwhile, I'm busy re-editing and polihsing my novel, working on a new query letter to go to a new set of agents (8 rejections out of 11 queries so far - time to move on to the next ones on the list). I'm not discouraged - I know I aimed high (I queried the best-known fantasy agencies who were looking for new authors. Now it's time to move down a tier, I guess. I didn't really expect any of these guys to take me on, but hope does spring eternal and all that!)

I have several ideas rattling around in my head for the NaNoWriMo project. I have no clue which one will be the one I work on, but at least I have more than one idea -- if one doesn't work out, I can do another!

New writing boards I'm enjoying: Notebored.com, LibertyHallWriters.org. I'm also enjoying the Context-19 writer's workshops message boards and reading assignments (the scripts we have in our reading list are awesome! "Braveheart," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "The Princess Bride" and "Superman" are the ones I've chosen to read of the list offered. These are early drafts of each script, I believe. It's amazing to read them and know how different each one became from its early draft. I'm looking forward to Context this weekend!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hal Spacejock

This has to be one of the coolest ideas for publicizing novels I've seen. Can't wait to read his books! And the articles on writing on Simon's site (Simon Haynes, author of the Hal Spacejock books) and the freeware downloads he has are fabulous! I downloaded his yTimer and his yWrite. yWrite so far is amazingly intuitive and fairly easy to learn. Cool beaners!!


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Fun writing sites. . .

Thanks to a reply to one of my replies on on the (Hatrack River Writer's Workshop forum, I found Liberty Hall, a members-only writing site that has flash challenges, crit groups, all kinds of fun things. Among the fun things I found was a link to a freeware countdown timer, which Mike (who owns Liberty Hall) recommends for use with the "flash challenges" (where you write a story in 90 minutes - ack!!). The timer is available at Spacejock Timer yTimer. In addition to offering free software, Spacejock's owner, Simon Haynes, is a published author with articles on writing, agents, publishing, etc. Here's a quote from his site:

"Over the past ten years Simon Haynes has grown from a beginning writer to a bestselling, award-winning author, and his site contains numerous articles with useful advice and warnings on writing, publishing and agents. Learn from his mistakes so you don't make them too."

Sounds good to me! And his novels look like a lot of fun. Anyone who's favorably compared to Terry Pratchett's work (he writes the Discworld series, which is hysterical sf humor, in case you don't know) is someone whose work I want to read!

And what a good marketing idea he has! I'll have to try something like that myself when my novel's published (four rejections out of eleven queries to literary agents so far - not too bad!)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Back to work for me!

I'm back from visiting our daughter and had a wonderful vacation. The weather was gorgeous, the sightseeing was fun, and it was a joy to see the progress my grandhorses have made in their training. I took over 1500 pictures (ah, the joys of a 2 gig card - plus two 512 mb cards - and a good camera!) and there are lots of good painting subjects among those pics.

The break was a great help to my writing. When I had a chance to read, I worked my way through half of literary agent Donald Maas' book How to Write the Breakout Novel. A lot of what he said is stuff I've read before, or thought out on my own, but some of it is really useful to me. One thing he said that hit home was about conflict. "What's the worst that can happen?" Think that, then make it happen and find a way for the hero to work his way out of it. As I was pondering that, the climactic battle and aftermath of my second novel popped into my head. I've known all along I'd want certain things to happen in that battle, but suddenly, there it was! So today I'm going to write down those scenes while they're fresh in my mind, despite the fact that only the first two chapters of the novel are actually written. I've planned out the rest, very loosely, but I do know where I'm going. Now if I can just keep it down to a reasonable number of words. . . (120,000 or so).

Lynda

Sunday, September 17, 2006

This 'n' that

I've received three rejections so far, each of them very nice - much nicer than the rejections I got for the kids book I tried to get published back in the late 1980's. I'm not discouraged - I know I aimed high with the agents I chose to query first, but why NOT aim high? There are tons more agents to try if these all reject me, but my hope is that the ones who asked for pages with the query and synopsis will be captured by the story and ask for more. I'm sure my story is better written than my queries!

I've just returned from a week-long painting workshop with Elin Pendleton at the Kentucky Horse Park. I tried to write in the evenings, but my brain was so full of information about painting, I had a hard time stringing words together, much less writing a coherent story! Still, I made a start on a short story to keep my HP readers happy. Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with a fun conclusion to this little piece of fluff soon!

I'm off for a week-long visit with our daughter and son-in-law tomorrow. I'll be teaching her what I learned in my painting workshop, and we'll be sightseeing and messing around with her horses, and I'll get to see her take lessons on two of my grandhorses. Hmm, I need to charge the camera batteries. . .there are bound to be good painting subjects in those pictures! I'm taking notecards with me to try to bash out a logical plot for the second novel, which is started but needs a better framework before I move too far ahead with it. I need to balance the action and story between this second book and the third one planned for this series, so both books have equally good plots. I'm usually a blank-page writer, so this "planning" thing is hard, but necessary for what I'm doing here.

Hopefully I'll start getting INTERESTED responses from agents soon! (Yeah, I'm a dreamer, but at least I dream BIG!! LOL!)

Friday, September 08, 2006

WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!

I just sent out a second email query and have a stack of fat envelopes to send to nine other literary agents. "Star Sons" is now officially put to bed, waiting to hear from the agent who's going to find me a publisher who LOVES my work so I can see these (at least) three books (it's at least a trilogy) published before I get too old to enjoy it!!

I feel like such a weight has been lifted from my shoulders, having all this work finished. I'm nearly giddy with it! NOW I'm free to go to my painting workshop and have fun there, and to play with a little story that's niggling the back of my mind, as well as getting going on the second Star Sons book. YAAAAAAAAAY!

I do realize there may be significant changes in my novel once an editor gets hold of it, which may impact the second novel, but I want to get my ideas down while they're jumping around in my head, so I'll get going with it soon. Three chapters already exist, although it's untitled. I'm looking forward to moving on to another novel! Yay!

Anyway, YIPPEE! I'm off to the post office with all these queries!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

*Some* progress, anyway!

I have my ten query packets all nicely packed up except for the queries and synopses now. The #10 SASE and whatever amount of pages of the novel each agent wants is in the envelope, with a sticky note on the outside showing a checklist noting the agent's name, and listing "Query, Synopsis, __ Pages, SASE" (with the __ filled in with the right number of pages or chapters). I check off each thing as it's added to the envelope. If I don't do things THIS carefully, I may slip up and I'm determined to do this right! So I've triple-checked that each SASE is in the correct envelope. I put the agent's name and addy as the return address so I'll know at a glance who it's from when it returns. I'm waiting for one more person (a real, live published author who was kind enough to agree to this!) to get back to me on my query and synopsis before sending everything out.

I've sent my synopsis to a couple of folks from the Hatrack River site who responded to my request for readers. Each of them contributed something very different to the process, but everything they offered was a huge help.

As for my formatting woes, they continue. I'm still fighting with Word documents, but when I save each chapter as a .txt, they behave better. I'm up to chapter 5 of 22 long chapters in reformatting, but I'm making progress. Scott on the Critters Newsgroup said I can do a find and replace with _(*)_ in the "find" box and "\1" in the "replace" box and it will change the underbars to underlines ("underbar" = a underscore before and after the word, denoting italics for the Critters critique site). The underlines will be changed into italics when the book is formatted for publication (note, I said "WHEN" the book is formatted!! Thinking positively here!) Anyway, I'm getting tired of this job, but going through it so carefully is helping me catch tiny little things I can improve, so it isn't a total waste of time.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready to go to a painting workshop led by Elin Pendleton, a fabulous artist, good buddy and very funny lady - also a beta on "Star Sons." The workshop is at the Kentucky Horse Park, one of the classes offered by the It will be good to immerse myself in art, horses and friendship for a week and rest from all this writing and querying stuff!!!American Academy of Equine Art, a very prestigious group of which I'm an "almost Associate member" - my membership will be voted on in the fall.

It's a gorgeous day. I think I'll fight the formatting battle for a while, then go and ride my horse. Yeah, that sounds like a plan!! Meanwhile, a new HP ficlet is tickling the back of my mind and the second novel is singing its siren song - and Elin has already told me she expects me to paint a scene from it in class next week! ACK! I'm a SCULPTOR not a painter!!!! Maybe by the end of next week, I'll be on my way to being a painter, too! Sure hope so!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Ooops - and GRRRRRRR!

*Sigh* I take two steps forward and ten steps backward sometimes. Ignore what I said in the previous post about WIN's format. The format they require for it to print out properly is single-spaced, block left, NOT indented!! So here I am, reformatting the entire novel AGAIN! And when I print it out, if I don't want to have double-spaces between paragraphs (extra double space, I mean), I'll have to go through and fix THOSE! Next novel, I think I'll write it in Word and keep the notes and stuff in WIN - it will just be easier that way. I don't understand WIN's format setup well enough to work with it easily. I wish I wasn't so technically challenged. I've wasted so many hours - several days now, actually - fighting with this formatting problem. I never said I was a genius!

I've tinkered with the novel again, and honestly can't find a lot more I can do to it, so it MUST be finished. It's also at the point where I need to stop looking at it, so when I get the printouts done I need for the query submissions, I'm putting "Star Sons" to bed and going back to my art studio to paint and sculpt a bit and get back to work on the second novel, too. WHEW! I'll be glad when I get these queries out! They're a lot more work than I expected them to be! It really was easier to write a 115,000 word novel (and a lot more fun!!) than to get all these things ready to print and pack up to send to agents!

Back to reformatting for me. *sigh*

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Too much precision isn't necessarily a good thing

I'm still getting my query packets ready to go to agents and asked on a couple of writers' message boards about word count. I'd written my novel in WriteItNow software (WIN), which I like very well for the features it offers, but I exported the file to Word so my betas could make comments. I've been editing it in Word, using their comments, and because I have the entire novel as one file, so it's easy to do "find/replace" kind of things. Now that I'm pretty much finished with it, I put it back in WriteItNow so the program could print out my submssions in proper format (which is much easier than formatting them by hand!) Once I had that done - and I was SOOOOoooooo careful so I didn't copy more than one chapter into a file (each chapter is its own file on WIN), I did a word count and found it was WAY over what it should be according to the word counts done by Word! I went back and checked each chapter - only one chapter was in each file as far as I could tell. Argh. So I blamed the WIN software and growled and grumbled a LOT! Then I had to go through and reformat the novel to fit WIN's criteria (single-space, indented paragraphs, so it will print out in proper double-spaced format). As I went through the chapters clicking on the vast majority of the lines in each chapter, I finally found where an extra chapter had been included in one, thus messing up the word count! ARGH!!! But at least I found the problem!

In the meantime, I'd gone whining to the writers boards I frequent: Hatrack River Writers Workshop and Critters Newsgroups, and asked about word counts there. Everyone there told me "IT DOESN'T MATTER!" WHEW! They said if I was at 127,000+ words as WIN thought I was for a while, I should just say it was "complete at 120,000 words." What a relief! I actually have about 115,000 words in this novel, now that I can get a proper word count, so I'm under the 120,000 upper limit the agency sites say is acceptable for unpublished novelists.

Another thing I learned from these questions of mine on those message boards is that, if a paragraph or sentence breaks at the end of the fifth page, and the agent asked for five pages, it's considered unprofessional if you only send the five pages. Everything I've read said it was unprofessional to not follow the instructions, but as these writers said, common sense should prevail! So I'll include the sixth page that finishes the dramatic arc of the first chapter in just a few lines on that sixth page. Live and learn!

Lynda

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Doing the happy dance!

I've FINISHED both the hard copy and computer version edit of the novel and it's REALLY a good read!! YAY! My query letter is polished and ready to go, my synopsis is just four double-spaced pages (not bad) and I'm working on a longer one for those agents who want a 5-10 page synopsis (some want two-page ones - the four page version is two pages when it isn't double-spaced -- hopefully I can get away with that!!). I had set myself a deadline of starting to query agents by the first of September -- and I'm going to make it! I'll start sending out queries tomorrow! YAY! I always work better with a deadline.

I'm delighted with how Star Sons reads, but I can't tell you how eager I am to get back to work on the second novel!! It's been driving me crazy to do the "busy work" that HAS to be done - researching agents, fighting my way through creating a good query letter and synopsis, etc., not to mention polishing the novel for the umpteenth time. I have so many ideas for the second novel, it's going to be great fun to get back to work on it! There are three chapters already finished in Book 2 (which is untitled so far).

I'm having my art site redone by a web designer who just redid my daughter's farm sites, Dancing Horse Farm, Maryland and her new site, Dancing Horse Farm, Ohio (she and her hubby are moving back to Ohio to begin a wonderful new dressage facility). I like what Doug did with our daughter's sites and am turning him loose on my art site and my "author's" site. I'll let you know when Lynda Sappington goes live (and if anyone has suggestions for a name for the author's site, please let me know! Thanks!)

Abraxan

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Searching for an Agent

One of the things all the "how to get published" or "how to find an agent" books tell you is to go to a library or bookstore and look in the "Acknowledgements" of books similar to yours to see if the author thanks his or her agent there. You're supposed to make a list of these agents because they may be interested in your book. So today I spent several hours in a local bookstore going through the "Sci-fi/Fantasy" section, picking up books that seemed to have a magical theme and looking for the Acknowledgements page. I was rather amazed at how many authors don't bother to thank anyone! And then there are those with two pages of thank-yous. I have a decent list of thank-you's started for Star Sons. I won't be one of those who doesn't thank those who helped me make my stories the best they can be!

I've already researched agents both online at AgentQuery.com and in Writer's Market 2006 and Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors & Literary Agents 2006 (I'll get out of this chair and find the title of that book in a bit - my back is sore from all the bending and stretching while researching books for hours!). Of all the agents I've researched, only one showed up in the books I checked today. That agent's name popped out at me when I first saw it, so I'm definitely going to query her. Keep your fingers crossed that she likes my book!

I've printed the novel out (again!) and am going through it with a fine-toothed comb now (and a highlighter and a bunch of Post-it sticky tabs and a pen), trying to get it as polished as possible. It's amazing how different it looks on paper than on the computer screen. Things I've passed by dozens of times now on screen pop out at me on paper and say "DELETE ME!" or "CHANGE ME!" *Sigh* I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to get moving on the second novel, but I know I need to get this one polished as much as I can, and send out the query letter and synopsis I finally managed to finish this morning (which still needs some editing, but it's much better than my other attempts at a synopsis!). And so the struggle continues. . . .

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Query letters

First, an update to my "names" post - I did come up with a new name for the bad guy's "real" name, and it is mentioned in this book now. The revision, telling more of his backstory, really helped. He's obviously more evil now, and also a tiny bit more sympathetic. I like how this revision turned out, yay!

I spent many long hours working on my query letter yesterday and last night (not the first time I've worked on it, either) and came up with four different versions, all of which meet the widely varied criteria various resources say "must" be there. I also spent a lot of time researching how to write the query (again! Fourth time for that research, I think - I'm beginning to lose count) and researching which agents seem likely to be interested in my books. Some articles on writing query letters said you MUST reference other authors whose work yours resembles. So I listed two authors whose work combines reality and fantasy in one query letter. Other articles on writing the perfect query letter had completely different things that went into writing the "perfect" query letter. So after much trial and error, I kept the line about my work combining reality and fantasy, and dropped the authors' names. I didn't really want to be compared to them anyway - I thought it felt presumptuous to compare my work to them, and if *I* feel that way, an agent probably would too.

So the struggle continues. I'm going to be traveling in September but I'll pack the submission packets required by the agents I'm submitting to first so if my hubby tells me I've gotten a positive response from one, I can send out what they want right away. THAT's thinking positively! Or at least being prepared, and I was a Girl Scout for ten years, so "Be Prepared" is kind of in my blood (that's the Girl Scout Motto, in case you didn't know).

I hope to have my queries ready to send by early next week. Now my biggest quandry is, do I believe the article that said it's important to use letterhead stationery with a logo, or just keep it simple??? I have created letterhead with a clip art logo and am "living with it" for a few days to see what I think. I'll also post the question on my writing ng, and will ask the published authors I know online their opinions. Hopefully, with all that input, I'll make the right choice! This query stuff is harder than writing the book was! And not NEARLY as much fun!!! I'll be glad when I have the query process started (letters sent out) so I can get back to writing the second novel!

Friday, August 18, 2006

What's in a name?

I have my entire first novel written and suddenly decided I wanted to write a really detailed backstory for my villain so I can make him even more evil in this novel. His story will be told in bits and pieces in the second and third novel, but the introduction to him in the first wasn't "evil" enough, IMO. So I've been punching it up. Nowhere in the first novel is his "real" name mentioned (so far, anyway - things could always change), but the name I'd chosen for him because of its meaning is the same as the name of a relative who might not get that much of a kick out of having a villain named after him. The matching names were unintentional, but still, I see no reason to cause strife unnecessarily, so I've been searching for another name for my bad guy. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!! The previous name was PERFECT! But it might hurt that relative's feelings, so I just can't use it. I've been through numerous resources looking for just the right name and I think I'm closing in on it at last. Whew!

It interests me that the villain, who I greatly dislike (he's a bad guy, after all!) is so hard to name, but my heroes (who I love dearly!) were both quite easy to name - and I named them before I looked up the meanings of the names that I'd chosen for them. I just picked names that they "looked like" in my mind - Ethan for the tall, quiet, strong but gentle older brother, Jake for the impulsive, talented, charming younger brother (not that Ethan isn't charming and talented too - and Jake has Ethan's qualities as well). But the meanings of their names suit them so well! I was amazed. "Ethan" means "loyal, strong, constancy, firm," and "Jake" means "supplanter, conqueror" -- good names for warriors, right? They fit the boys SO well, as will become evident throughout the "Star Sons" series.

Other characers have been very easy to name - it's the bad guys who give me the most trouble when it comes to naming or describing them or developing their characters. Guess that shows who I prefer, eh? I'd be delighted to spend the day with Ethan and/or Jake! I have no wish to ever meet ANY of the bad guys in my novels!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Characters

Someone on the Critters Newsgroups posted the link to Spam Obitiuaries. What a hoot! This guy has taken the names from spam emails and "killed them off"! That blog was mentioned after someone on that ng had asked if anyone else ever made up stories based on people we see passing by. I've done that for ages. I'll see people and have "instant story" hit from time to time. Mostly I want to know how they got that way. My daughter (now 31, but this was when she was in high school) and I would sit in the mall and make up stories about people walking by. One woman who came to the mall and bought cookies in the food court was dressed in a housecoat and fuzzy slippers, with her hair up in pink rollers. No idea WHY she dressed that way at lunchtime, but she was interesting. Then there was the skinny, pimply kid in the long black leather trench coat who looked like he couldn't have AFFORDED that coat from the look of the rest of him, but he thought he was so cool, he swaggered. ;-) Then there was the time when my best friend and I were sitting in the same mall people-watching while our daughters shopped. We admired the fine form of a man who walked by and whispered, "He's GORGEOUS!" to each other and giggled - and he HEARD us! He turned around and wiggled his eyebrows at us. We two 40-something blushed like girls, but he really was worth the embarrassment. Never did make up a story about him - the real one was funny enough! LOL!

Sometimes a person's appearance will be a real trigger for characters for me. My heroes in my novels are based in part on specific people, as are many of the other characters in the novels. I start with thinking of that person's appearance and basic personality traits and evolve a character from there. By the time I'm through, the character doesn't resemble the real person enough to be recognizable (which is what I want - I'm not putting people I know in my stories, but using them for inspiration for characters). By having a solid visual or personality concept of them, it's easier for me to come up with their body language, etc.

Lynda

Saturday, August 12, 2006

FINALLY!!!!!

With a lot of help and encouragement from Asad, I've finally figured out how this Blogger html works. Now I have hot links in posts, have my photo posted properly, and have created tags on Technorati so I may get more traffic! YAY! Thanks, Asad!!

A query letter update: A British editor who I met on a writing board Critter Newsgroups was kind enough to look over the query letter I'd written. In the UK, their queries have a different format than ours seem to, but reading his was educational for me. I'd managed to make a one-page query that I thought was pretty good, but given his comments, I've still got some work to do!! *sigh* At least I have an idea of how to go about it now.

In response to something he said in an e, I wrote back a quick, snappy "explanation" of my story (not really what I'd consider a synopsis) and he said that was much better than the synopsis I'd written for my query. And he was right! Now I have to work out how to insert that "synopsis" into the query letter and make everything fit, make sense, show a bit of my style, etc. Argh.

All these "detail" things - strangling a three-book story into a one-paragraph-long synopsis for the first book only, for instance - take a lot of time, energy, patience, and can be truly frustrating until you hit a breakthrough. When it starts flowing the right way, it writes itself. But it's fighting my way to that breakthrough that's so time-consuming, frustrating, mind-boggling, difficult . . . argh. But then again, it's a kind of puzzle (I'm not fond of puzzles until I get INVOLVED with them! And I'm involved with the "query puzzle" now!).

It's interesting (once I get past my mental blocks and stubbornness!) to work out the very best way to write something as difficult as a query letter. It's sort of like working out a battle strategy for my novels. I've never been in battle (thank goodness!) and am no good at chess, but there's a LOGIC there that appeals to me and works for my battle scenes. Those who are or have been in the military (and may God protect and bless you, every one!) say my battle scenes are really good. Yay! This query letter feels like a battle scene. I keep picking at it and picking at it, coming at it from all different angles, trying a pincers movement, trying an ambush, aerial attack, grenades. . .LOL! Eventually, I'll beat it into submission, and THEN I'll start sending it to agents!

In the meantime - the novel is being polished again. I've added a prologue-type part, two scenes that set things up for the novel, made them "chapter 1" and renumbered all the other chapters. Suddenly everything sings BEAUTIFULLY, where the story sang "nicely" before! Yay!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The worth of a good beta

One of my betas had an EXCELLENT idea to speed up the opening of the story. So now I'm rethinking the beginning of the novel, which I like very well, but having an even faster, more dramatic opening would hook readers faster and more securely. So I'm rethinking that and trying to sort out exactly how much I can write, given that I'm getting close to the word limit. The scene I have in mind will necessitate trimming a bit here and there through the rest of the text (oh boy, not looking forward to THAT job! That's where mistakes get made!) because the new scene will tell some information that I've scattered through the novel in bits and pieces. But still - if it works, it's worth it!

I did get my query letter written, and I think it's pretty good. I'll let it sit a few days before looking at it again so I can see it with fresh eyes.

Good betas are worth their weight in gold, and I have a really good bunch!

Lynda

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Busy day and Query Letters

Asad was surprised I didn't post any comments after "Whew" but I've been busy! I've finished the first chapter of the second "Star Sons" book, written a query letter for agents and sent it to a friend who's an editor (and budding novelist who was just asked by an agent to send his entire manuscript in for the agent to read, YAY!) who agreed to look at it; I've been busy answering email, dealing with art business customers, etc.; and I've cast and detailed two resins and have been finishing those and another that are needed to fulfill a trophy order.

I also spent a lot of time today building an armature for the second horse in a pair of rearing horses that will be a bronze. It portrays a moment in playtime between my horse, Jack (shown a few posts below this one), and my hubby's horse, Pepper. They were rearing and pretending to threaten each other, just playing rough (boys will be boys, after all), and at one point, I got a photo of them standing straight up on their back legs, with their front feet on each others' shoulders. They look like they're dancing! I've already sculpted Jack for this piece, and today I got the armature finished for the sculpture of Pepper. My hubby helped me make the armature so I can remove Pepper from being "attached" to Jack so I can work on him separately and get him correct before I put them together again, so that's great!

I have the privilege of judging the Great Darke County Fair's (Greenville OH) art shows Sculpture Division on Aug. 17, and am doing a demo there (date not set yet - I'm "Featured Sculptor" as well as juror, which is very nice!), so I've been getting the sculpture of Jack and Pepper ready to go for that. And it's time I did some artwork anyway. I've been concentrating on writing for months, with very little artwork to show for it. But the novel is coming along well enough to make me want to just sit here and WRITE! And that's cool too. The first chapter of the second book inspired me to design a couple of sculptures that could be tie-ins for it. Time will tell if I actually get them made and if there's a market for them, but I think they would be great fun to do, and if the price is reasonable enough, they should sell well, too -- I hope!

On query letters: I found various articles in books I have as well as on websites other writers recommended to me, but the best info I found (clear, concise and easy to understand) was on AgentQuery. They have a series of articles that are wonderfully educational, but since I'm in query mode right now, I concentrated on that topic.

Queries can be daunting. According to AgentQuery.com, the first paragraph should be the "hook," the one sentence that tells enough about the story to make you want to read it. Think of a blurb on the back cover of a book - that kind of thing. I had a lot of trouble coming up with a hook because I keep seeing my story in its big multi-volume story arc. Coming up with a hook for the first book alone was difficult, but I think I finally managed it.

The second paragraph in the query letter is supposed to be the summary of your book. This is where you write the kind of thing you see on the flaps of a book jacket, a tightly condensed version of what goes on in the story that leaves you wanting to know more about it. For a query letter, you don't want to keep secrets from the agent, according to AgentQuery.com, so you tell the story in full.

The third paragraph is supposed to be your writer's bio, if you have one. Fanfic publication doesn't count (and shouldn't be mentioned), but things where you were paid in copies does. Also, your "day job" doesn't count unless it has an impact on your writing.

My own query letter fell in to more than three paragraphs simply because the story summary required more than one paragraph to be written properly. I know I need to revise it to make it fit the three-paragraph format, but I'm giving myself time away from it so I can see it with fresh eyes the next time I work on it. I haven't heard from my editor friend yet about how it looks to him, but it is a very rough first draft - I expect it to need changes. Getting it written at all was an accomplishment, because I suddently couldn't think of a thing to say about my story that would tell ABOUT it without TELLING the whole thing. I guess I really am a novelist - I can't summarize well, but I can crank out 100,000+ words with little trouble! ;-D And they're usually pretty darned good words, too! Now if only I can get an agent to agree with that assessment. . . .

Lynda

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Whew!

Yesterday, I finished a straight-through revision of "Star Sons" that took into consideration the input of, um, (counting on fingers) three of my five betas. Hopefully the other two will get their input in soon! But by leaving it for so long, and then reading it straight through, I was able to catch little mistakes in continuity, repetitions of certain phrases, a few illogical or not-explained-well-enough things, and also get a feel for the flow of the book. I enjoyed the first part a lot, and when it got to the battle stuff, WOW! It SINGS! And the aftermath is excellent too! I think the pacing of the first part is good for the kind of thing it is, establishing the characters and setting, etc. The next book will have battles and "fluff" (some romance) in it, and the third will have the same things but more intensely as we reach the climax of the trilogy.

My friend, Asad Asif Asad's Blog has left a couple of comments and I'm trying to figure out if there's an easier way to install links (his in particular, since we're exchanging links) in this site. Putting them in via the html is a pain. Ah well, it's all part of the learning curve, right?

Earlier today, I sent "Beginnings" (my new HP fic, 78 pages long, I think) to Asad, who's my techie on my Yahoo group, and Iris, who uploads for me on the OWL site. I went through and polished that twice in the last day or so, and it's a fun read. It's a lot easier to just start a story in the middle of things than to establish the characters, setting, what their abilities are, how magic works there, etc., as I have to do in my original fics. On to the second book of the "Star Sons" saga!

Abraxan

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Me

I'm still learning how to use this blogger format and have just listed this blog with a couple of "pinging" sites, one of which wanted a picture. So this is the picture I chose - I'm the blond in the hat (although my hair in shadow doesn't look blond here). The "redhead" is my Quarter Horse, "Impowered for Time" ("Jack" to his friends and he thinks nearly EVERYBODY's his friend). I'm usually the one BEHIND the camera, so there aren't a lot of pictures of me, which is fine. I hate breaking cameras by letting them take my picture! LOL!

I may be changing the template here, since for some reason the links section doesn't show on this one (it's in the HTML, it just doesn't show online). I'm not techie enough to figure out what's wrong with the template, so I'll just try another!

Meanwhile, the polishing of the novel is going very well indeed! I'm nearly 160 pages through (it's 272 single-spaced pages long right now) a very detailed edit, and I like what I'm seeing. Planning on the second novel is racing along and I wish I had time to work on it, but I want to finish this polishing job on the first one while all the details of the story are fresh in my mind.

Lynda

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's a good read!

I let "Star Sons" sit untouched for a couple of weeks and just re-opened it a few days ago after getting the beta job back from one of my betas. I plugged in her input, then went to work on fixing the formatting problems (the novel-writing software and I had a disagreement about the formatting - the software won, which means I had a mess to clean up when I transferred the document to Word. *sigh*) Anyway, that's fixed and now I'm going through and polishing. It's an honest-to-goodness good read, YAY! I love the characters, and haven't hit any "slow" spots. I'm fixing all the glitches or problem spots as I come to them, but honestly, it's so cool to read it more as a story than as "pieces" as I have to do when writing it.

I've got to figure out how to publicize this blog so it isn't just me here talking to myself, although that's fun too, LOL!

Lynda

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On marketing

On one of my writing message boards, we've been discussing the benefits of having a blog. I was one of those who said it was a way to get the word out about your work, marketing your writing. Someone responded that they thought that was what the publisher's marketing department is for. That comment prompted me to write the following, which I thought was worth repeating here:

>>So you don't see a need to go do book signings, to promote your book online, to do interviews, etc? I've read articles by authors who did this (one author took himself on the road and did book signings in a tri-state area and watched his sales shoot up) and increased their sales a good bit. Sorry I can't quote the source for that story at the moment - I've been reading so many books and magazines on writing that I can't recall the source at the moment.

I know from my art career that I am the only one who cares enough about my art to promote it properly. Galleries don't. I think the publishing world won't be much different. Some amount of money will be set aside to promote your book (IF YOU'RE LUCKY, or so I've read recently), but publishers will promote it for a certain amount of time and that's all. To get the maximum effect, you have to get your feet wet in the marketing pond too.

I've been doing marketing for my art for over ten years now and it's a lot of work, yup, it is. But the results are truly worthwhile. No gallery ever promoted me the way I promote myself, and I have ALWAYS had better sales on my own than I ever did through a gallery (and my art is good - it's not a question of quality).

One art form resembles another in that what we're producing is NOT NECESSARY TO LIFE - it's a luxury to read fiction, just as it's a luxury to buy and live with art. Fiction and art both enhance our lives, but many people live without both. So in order to sell our work, we need to create interest in it, so we do interviews, book signings, send out press releases, make personal appearances, etc., many of which we arrange ourselves.

If you haven't read articles on such topics, I recommend Writer's Digest magazine to you for starters. If STEPHEN KING, after a lifetime of success so his name is known by anyone who's been paying any attention at all the last few decades, is promoting his books via a website - which he is - rather than just using his website to entertain his readers as JK Rowling does with hers, there's a good reason to do some of your own promotion.

Marketing is a creative activity, if you look at it right. Yikes, I can't believe I'm having this SAME conversation with another group of creative people. Some artists are so artsy-fartsy they think it "prostitutes" their art to try to sell it! (I'd deadly serious here.) And then they wonder why their work doesn't sell. DUH! Sorry, I just don't "get" creating art for art's sake - my house can't hold all the bronzes I've created already. I sell them to be able to afford to create MORE because I love to sculpt! (I also sell them because it's a kick to sell things I've made!) The more I sell, the more I advertise, the better people know my name and the more often they will recognize my work from a distance. (I've been in my booth at shows and heard someone from across the building say, "Oh, that looks like a Sappington!" when referring to my bronzes. And what do you know? It IS a Sappington! LOL!)

If we're going to be successful, it won't be just the publisher's marketing department that made us so, unless you have such a remarkable book as a "Harry Potter" - and even that became such a monster hit because people got on the internet and spread the word about what a cool book JKR had written. (I've read that in numerous articles about JKR's success story. And that's how I found out about Harry myself, from online friends raving about the books.)

I'll stop ranting now. . .but I believe if we don't participate in marketing our work, whatever it is, we're shortchanging ourselves.

Lynda

Monday, July 10, 2006

Progress!!

I have had a VERY busy day, with little time for writing. Let's see, it's (digging watch out of pocket - the band was making my arm itch when I was working in the barn this afternoon) nearly 9:30 PM now. I had an hour this afternoon and about 45 minutes just now to write, and in that time, managed to do about 7 or 8 pages on my new HP fic, "Beginnings"! And they're GOOD pages! Single-spaced, not double-spaced anywhere except for scene breaks. I THINK the story is finished (it's 54 pages now, and was SUPPOSED to be a "ficlet" - NOT! LOL!). I'll have to look through it in a couple of days to see if I'm still happy with it, then send it to the betas (IF I'm happy with it!). They're busy with my first novel, so I have no idea how quickly they can get this fic back to me. My HP readers will be delighted with this story, though. It covers a wedding and a lot of other "beginnings" of things mentioned in the epilogue of my HP novel, "The Time of Destiny."

I've thought out a lot of stuff for the second "Star Sons" novel but still haven't had time to put any of it to paper. I finished some research on fairies and put my notes in my computer files for reference. That's all the actual WORK I did on the novel today. And I haven't had time to paint or sculpt, which is frustrating. I spent most of the day running errands (which is rare for me, thank goodness): Lowe's for more mulch (it's done at last and looks great!); Target and Lowe's looking for an airtight container for my horses' treats (bugs have gotten into the covered bucket I've been using, yuck); um, what else? Grocery, bank, PO, library, cat to vet this afternoon (he needed an allergy shot) - everything just took so much TIME! Argh. And I'm jealous of my time. I really wanted to do some painting today. I also need to take pics of my hubby's horse, Pepper, so I can build an armature and start a sculpture of him soon. And I have this novel eating holes in my brain, keeping me awake at night with scenes racing through my mind! ARGH! And then there's riding my horse, which didn't get done today either. *sigh* There aren't enough hours in the day, that's all there is to it! But I did make progress on that HP story, and got some research done. There. I looked on the bright side! And that's where I'll end this for now!

OOOOO! Late news!! I just got the beta job on the first five chapters of "Star Sons" from one of my betas! She didn't find too many problems with it, YAY! And my Brit-picker has sent the first parts of her beta job, too. Can't wait to see what the others have to say! I'm going to TRY to wait until I hear from ALL of them before I look at "Star Sons" again, so I'll see it with fresh eyes.

And with that, I'm signing off and going to make "lap time" for my cat and dog (another thing that takes time, but needs to be done, and I do enjoy it!)

Off to spend time with my hubby, Mickey (the dog), Jake (my cat) and Cricket (hubby's cat).

Abraxan

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Learning the ropes

I've been whining about my blogging problems on my writers newsgroup, the Critters newsgroup over at www.webnews.sff.net. A fellow traveller on this "working toward publication" road has shared blogging advice and information as well as her blog address: http://sherridykes.blogspot.com/. Her blog is fun and informative as well, and has given me ideas on how to improve mine. Thanks, Sherri! I was going to post her link in my "links" section, then found that there IS no "links section" here as there is on my website! (www.thesculptedhorse.com). Ah well, writing it in the text of a post works just as well, I suppose.

Today I'm stealing time from helping my hubby spread mulch (now that we've changed from church clothes to grubs) to look at my e's and update my blog. I've had some WONDERFUL ideas for my second novel, *not one* of which has been written down in any form yet!! I HAVE to get some writing time, but that doesn't happen when hubby's home, bless him. He works so hard and I get a big case of "the guilts" if I'm not out there with him (unless he's doing something I can't help with - alas, spreading mulch IS within my capabilities!! *sigh*) His office picnic is HERE next week, so we've been working hard to get our landscaping in shape, which is a major job since we have a farm and a huge yard, and the "townies" who'll be coming want to tour the farm, my sculpture studio, the artwork I have in the house, etc. So EVERYTHING has to be as nice as possible. It's fun to host the picnic, but what a lot of work to get ready for it! And I'm SO FRUSTRATED that I haven't had time to write for DAYS because of all this "busyness." Ah well. I'll find some time this week to get that novel off the ground!!

Meanwhile, a ficlet I started to keep my Harry Potter fans happy (and to take a break from Ethan and Jake's tale) has grown to about 50 pages!! That's single-spaced, mind you! And it's such fun! My readers are all excited to have a nice long Abraxan fic to read soon. But my betas, who are busy with my novel - I'm not sure when/if they'll have time to work on it! It will all work out in the end. I should stop being such a worrywart. Of course, being a worrywart is keeping me from spreading mulch. . . .heehee.

Abraxan

Friday, July 07, 2006

Progress of various sorts

I've started working out the plot for the second "Star Sons" book, and have written another Harry Potter story ("Beginnings") to fit into the epilogue of "The Time of Destiny" - but this "ficlet" has turned into a HUGE story, which will be probably fifty pages! My HP readers who know about it (the Yahoo group - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HPRefinersFire ) are dancing with joy, which is always a cool thing. The bloodthirsty one is asking if there's blood in it (not yet) and the ones who love "Baboonery(c)" (love scenes) are going to be happy (I hope!) because there IS a bit of Baboonery(c) in it! I thought it was finished twice yesterday, then realized I had left out a couple of scenes. Now I have one scene left to write, then I have to let it rest a while and look at it with fresh eyes, edit and polish it, then off to the betas! (Of course, they're busy with my novel right now and I don't want to distract them from that task - but hopefully, a HP story will be a nice rest for their eyes too!)

It's great fun to get back to the comfortable world of my HP stories, but it's also hard for me. I was immersed in the Star Sons world now, not Harry's world, so it took me a while to get back in HP mode. I also had to go back through my HP novels to refresh my memory on certain details, which takes time. But doing the HP story was a nice change -- almost like a vacation! -- after finishing "Star Sons."

I have a couple of original short stories floating around in the back of my head, just barely beginning to take shape. I'm not much of a short story writer, but it would be nice to have some out there in magazines to help build up my name as a writer. Hopefully when I get them finished, they'll be good enough that some magazine (that PAYS!) will want them! Yes, I'm an optimist! :-)

Abraxan

Sunday, June 25, 2006

WHEW!

Yesterday, I sent the last five chapters to my betas. YAAAY! I had saved those chapters because I hadn't written the climactic battle scene (chapter 16) yet - I skipped over it and wrote the end instead. I knew I could write a good battle scene, having done quite a few of them in my Harry Potter novels. It was an amazing relief to send it out and realize I'm FREE for a while! Until I get the betas' responses (and I've already received some, and so far, they like it and haven't had too many suggestions, which means I did a decent job to start with! YAY!), I'm FREE and can do other things! I have a painting to work on, three sculptures in various stages to work on, and some more HP stories to write to keep my HP readers happy (and fill in the gaps I left in the epilogue to "The Time of Destiny" which you can read on my Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HPRefinersFire - be sure to read "Refiner's Fire" first, or some things in Destiny won't make sense!). So now I'm off to write wedding stories for my HP fans, and maybe a few SF/F stories for the short story market (hopefully), too. It was an amazing thing, though, the sense of freedom I had after sending that file off to the betas. HUZZAH! LOL!

Abraxan

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And it's off to the betas we go!

The first five chapters are edited, polished, and as good as I can get them. They were sent to the betas last night. I've heard from four betas so far (out of six) that they got it, and one has already started reading it and liked the first chapter. YAY! I hope to get the first ten to fifteen chapters out to them by the end of the week! The story's finished except for that climactic battle scene (one chapter, no big deal to write), and I like how it turned out, yippee! I'll hold chapters 16-20 until I get the battle scene written and polished. THEN the betas can have it all! And then I'll take some time off to paint, sculpt, ride my horse, start some short stories and book 2 of this trilogy/series (which is already starting to develop in my mind)! Yay!!

Abraxan

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Progress!

I've tidied things up here a bit, changing some settings, etc. Hopefully that will make the blog easier for my friends to use.

As far as the writing goes - I started writing the climactic battle scene yesterday, YAY! That means only about 4 chapters to go to finish this first novel!! Today, I'm going to skip over the battle scene and write the aftermath, since defining the wounds involved and all that may help me come up with some new spells to have the fighters cast during the battle. I had the aftermath show up in my head full-blown last night (one of the reasons I don't get a lot of sleep is that my plots come to me as I'm drifting off, or in a dream, and then I wake up and work through them, working out dialog, etc. as I lie there not sleeping. . .argh.) Anyway, I'm pleased with how things are coming along! Can't wait to get it finished so I can read it through as one book! YIPPEE!!

Abraxan

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Whew!

I just LOVE summer! Especially when I have a whole week with very few appointments, so my time is my own. So I spent time riding my horse a while ago, and now have to clean stalls and the tack room, but that time gives me thinking time. My novel is so close to finished now - I'm about to begin the big climactic battle, yay!! I wish I had even more uninterrupted hours in the day so I could get into the story and STAY there rather than having to answer the phone when my foundry calls about a bronze casting I've ordered for a customer ("Just Trying to Help" http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/trying.html) That call reminded me I needed to call my other foundry to get them to cast a "Harmony" for me (http://www.thesculptedhorse.com/harmony.html) so I will have one to show in my booth at Equine Affaire in the fall, since I sold my Artist's Proof and the only other casting I have is in the USDF Hall of Fame at the Kentucky Horse Park!

Business keeps getting in the way, but the writing is going so well! I've gotten the characters and the "world" established, the little bit of romance for this novel has been written (there will be more in future books) and some fighting has happened. Now it's time for the big battle that will be the climax of this book, then a little cleanup stuff after and I'm DONE! I've given myself a June 30 deadline for the first draft of the novel. I'm hoping I'll finish early so I can have time to re-read and polish it before sending it to my betas. BOY I'm eager for somebody other than me to read it!!! I sure hope they like it! I think it's a good read so far, but then again, it's my baby, so I could be seeing it through eyes of love. . .ack! :-)

Abraxan

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Another day's writing. . .

Wow, today's work has gone well. I've been interrupted by a trip to the vet (to get our new cat checked out - he's fine!), other errands, had to clean the stalls, was going to ride my horse Jack, but it's too darned hot (90's here and humid) - no point in making my poor horse suffer. I'll try to ride in the evening. But while cleaning stalls (one of my best times for inspiration), I had a brilliant (I HOPE!) idea for the story, which will add some tension now that I'm building toward the climax. And I came up with another villain, part of a sub-plot I've been struggling with. COOL! It's great when it all works!!

Yesterday, I bought a new thesaurus (a "21st Century" one, LOL!) that has newer slang and so forth in it. It's been very helpful today, even though I haven't been using slang. The "naming characters" book I got last week has also been very helpful. I found a lovely name for a character yesterday, something unusual and rather British, and then last night I saw pictures of local high school kids and one of them had the same unusual name! LOL! Ah well, that's what I get for trying to be unique. I think I'll keep that name, though. I think it suits the character, and it IS unusual.

Abraxan

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Well, that was easy!

I've got the blog set up now! Yay! Wish writing the novel was as easy. It rolls along quickly for a while, then gets bogged down as I try to work through where it's going next, or what details need to be included to make it more real to the reader. Naming some characters has taken up whole days at times, researching names online and in various books I have at hand. Such problems can be very frustrating, and it's not the best thing that it's so easy to access the internet via my computer - I can get distracted and waste a lot of what would be good writing time if I'm not careful! But then again, if the writing were flowing well, I wouldn't be tempted to read my email or what the latest news is on The Leaky Cauldron. *sigh* I LOVE my characters, and the story seems to be a good one (fingers tightly crossed - darned hard to type this way!), but at times the story just drives me bonkers!! *I* think it's good. I love it when I read it - it reads really well. But does it move fast enough?? I'm enjoying exploring and developing the personalities of my characters. I'm enjoying watching them learn magic, make new friends, find girlfriends. . .but as you can see from my posts so far, it's REALLY easy for me to type a lot of words in a short time (well, you can't see how fast I type, but trust me, I'm really good at typing!!!). At some point, I'm going to have to cut whole sections from the novel to tighten it up and make it flow better. That's going to be hard for me, becuase I enjoy all the scenes in it so far. Ah well. Enough griping for tonight. It will be interesting to see if anyone responds to this blog.

Abraxan

Welcome to my blog!

Hi! I'm known to a lot of you as "Abraxan," author of two Harry Potter fanfic novels, "The Refiner's Fire" and its sequel, "The Time of Destiny" (and some ficlets that I've written since Destiny, which fit into its epilogue). I'm busy writing an original novel aimed at real-life publication. It's called "Star Sons" (so far - the publisher, once I find one, may change the title, but I HOPE they don't!) and is a trilogy (so far!). I thought it would be fun to start a blog and let people see the process I go through when writing. I'm also hoping you'll become interested enough in my writing to read my Harry Potter fanfics (and leave reviews!) as well as my original novels! You can read them on my Yahoo group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HPRefinersFire/ They're also listed on Fanficauthors.net, Sink Into Your Eyes (hgnetwork.co.uk), Fanfiction.net and FictionAlley.org (Schnoogle)



"Star Sons" is a hero-quest magical fantasy novel, similar to "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter," Star Wars." My heroes are two brothers, Ethan and Jake Payne, who are mages. My hubby and I went to England recently on a vacation, and some of the things I observed and learned there are being incorporated into the novel.

I don't plan to reveal a lot of the plot to "Star Sons" here, but I will discuss the process, the research, the frustration and the fun I go through while trying to create a novel that will appeal to a wide audience. I hope you'll enjoy those posts!

Abraxan