Revision

Peaches and Preparing the Grid to be Ready

Babcock peaches

It started with a peach tree.

My tree is a dwarf second-year tree that I thought wouldn’t give many peaches especially since my mother said I didn’t ‘cull’ the tree months before.

What do I know of culling? I grew up in housing projects of concrete and asphalt for a backyard. We did have one spindly tree in the front shared patch of lawn.

But, Mom knew about culling (thinning the fruit from the tree) because she spent her first sixteen years as a migrant farm worker. Mom taught me more than that though from her hard work.

Culling my pretty peach tree sounded cruel but I found out it was necessary so I wouldn’t have dropped fruit or small peaches like this photo of my tree.

Dwarf peach tree-unculled

This process of culling is a lot like writing and revision.

The tree surprised me with the abundance of white Babcock peaches. So many, I made my first ever peach ‘nice’ cream (vegan ice cream) and two peach cobblers. I still need to work on those recipes though. I got a tasty product but the ‘nice’ cream could have been smoother and the cobbler topping flakier. Hey, again, this is much like writing: revising and rewriting until the piece is right.

Besides my love affair with my peach tree, I also received good news. The anthology which accepted one of my short stories was published. The book is now on tour in Chile, Spain, Argentina, and Mexico. The publisher is the University of Nevada and is not out for general sale, yet.

¡Basta!

I’ve spent most of July revising another manuscript and sending it off to be line edited. After that headache, I haven’t done much writing.

Instead, I’ve spent hours in the garden, visiting museums, working out at the gym, reading, practicing meditation with Deepak Chopra and Oprah (Desire and Destiny, online), and planning my September vacation (London!).

July turned out to be a period of self-care and “preparing the grid.” This means to create a vibrational focus.

My friend, Florencia, quotes Abraham-Hicks on preparing the grid or getting ready. This is similar to manifesting done through meditation. If you don’t know who or what is Abraham-Hicks, click here.

This quote seems to sum up July pretty well.

Your work is to be ready for what’s ready. Abraham Hicks

When I think of the quote I realize that July has been a month of culling, picking, chilling, fun and letting go.

Are you ready?

Health, Inspiration, poetry, Revision, Self Care, Staycations

A Bargain Way to Refresh, Renew, and Revive Yourself

Bridge on Chumash Trail, Santa Barbara

Hello,

I’ve been in the midst of digesting an editorial letter on a manuscript I sent in for editing. The information was a lot to process and there’s a ton of work in front of me. I’ve felt overwhelmed with the task of rewriting and revision.

Feeling overwhelmed happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s the kids, or bills, or relatives, or your job and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

Whenever I feel my mind swamped, I need to step back, for my own sanity.

June is a good month to reinvigorate and revitalize.

Some people can’t take a costly vacation so Staycations are good ways to do something different as well as refresh yourself.

This month, I found a few ways to relax:

One Saturday was Global Wellness Day. The Bacara Resort and Spa in Santa Barbara offered free classes all day:

Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA
The Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, CA

Meditation on the bluff, yoga, Tai Chi, and Brazilian Capoeira. Not that I did the Capoeira. A highlight of the day was also receiving a reduced price for the spa day pass to use the pool, sauna, jacuzzi, and serenity room filled with teas, fruit, nuts, and cushy sofas.

Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA
Meditation by the beach, Santa Barbara, CA

A walk on the beach helped me to further relax.

Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA
Matilija Poppies, Santa Barbara, CA

Another day, I used a Christmas gift coupon I hadn’t made time for. This is the Salt Caves in Santa Barbara.

Himalayan Salt Caves, Santa Barbara, CA

The caves are made from 45 tons of 250 million-year-old pure Himalayan salt. We took off our shoes, entered the darkened cave and reclined on comfortable chairs. Meditation music is piped in for forty-five minutes. The salt is said to stimulate wellness and healing. Blissful.

The next week, I retired to my backyard and took in the colors of the garden, the sounds of birds, smelled the roses and felt reflective. I jotted down a poem.

statue of boy reading
Reading in the Garden

Hover of beating wings flit between blossoms

Flutters of orange dance above purple sage

Bumblebees disappear into white throats of lilies

Gardens, never silent, ever hopeful

Butterfly Dance in the Garden.

 

yellow poppies
Mariposa poppies

After these mini-retreats I feel uplifted and ready to tackle the edit letter and line edits. My mind is refreshed and I’m “ever hopeful.”

Have you taken a staycation this month?

See you in July!

Revision, Writers

Rejection and Persistence-The Writing Life

Rejection and Writing-Ray Bradbury

I saved this Ray Bradbury quote. Not because I plan to wallpaper a room with rejection slips but to remind myself that my list of rejection e-mails for two of my manuscripts amounts to maybe a quarter of a wall.

Rejection emails don’t phase me too much anymore. With a click of a button, they slide right into my “Queries” folder unless the lit agent wrote something more than a form letter. I jot down whatever suggestions they offered and send good thoughts to those agents for taking a minute to say something constructive.

And then I take a deep breath, put my big girl panties on and get back to work.

Now that doesn’t mean I don’t pay attention to constructive criticism, I’d be an idiot not to take someone’s suggestions and toss them around, see if they fit and give it a try.

This is also the time when I remind myself that I’ve lived through worse than an email rejection letter and got through it, survived and thrived.

A rejection letter is a little nudge, sometimes a kick, to remind me that I am doing the work. I’m sending out query letters.

I love to put words together. Many times I found that I have to learn how to put those words together in a better way.

I remind myself that although I’ve been rejected, I must be doing something right if I also receive requests for more pages, writing fellowships, and selected to be mentored in an Association of Writing Professionals (AWP) program.

All of those good things have been interspersed with the not so great. As I write this, my little email slider dings and I see another rejection letter came in my mailbox. I’ll share with you:

Thanks so much for your query. I’m really grateful that you chose to submit to me, but I’m sorry to say I’m not connecting enough with this project. I hope you will try me again with future work if you don’t find representation for this.

Young women in prison do not connect with a lot of people especially when I write about young women who are from ‘subgroups,’ ‘subcultures,’ et al. (the immigrant, the addicted, the gang banger, the sexually abused).

I remind myself that someone out there will connect with that story. I just have to get through the ‘gatekeepers.’

I remind myself and ask you to remind yourself, that persistence is a quality to hold onto if you want to become a writer and author.

On writing-Jennifer Weiner
On writing-Jennifer Weiner 

Only persistence keeps me going, walking, trudging through the revisions and rejections.

And now, back to work.

A Room of Her Own, AROHO, Developmental editor, Editorial Freelancers Association, finding professional editor, query letters, Rachelle Gardner, Revision, Writing

Four Ways to Find a Professional Editor

123rf.com

Five months ago I thought I was ready to jump in and send out query letters for a manuscript I thought I had completed. Doesn’t ten revisions and your critique groups nod of approval mean your MS is ready?

NO. 

The MS was not ready, and neither was the query letter. 

If I had followed my “hindsight is 20/20” advice and utilized the five tools after writing “The End,” I would have saved myself months of time, the rejection letter depression, and needless work. But that’s all in the past and that experience is lessons learned for the future. 

In the last post I covered the first four suggestions to get your manuscript ready. (Disclaimer: these suggestions are based on my own experience).

The fifth tool to implement in revising your manuscript is finding a professional editor for your work. 

123rf.com




This can be like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. 

You can shift through 25 million Google results, that you’ll receive 44 seconds after pressing ‘enter,’ or you can use another plan of shifting through the abyss of results. 

Before you start your search, decide on what type of editing you want for your MS and your budget. 

Do you want a developmental editor to tell you where you have plot holes, where to revise, critique your characters, help your flow? Do you want pages of notes, chapter by chapter? 

Or do you want a line/copy editing, where the editor addresses grammar and style but not the structure of the book, the voice or tone. 


Are you willing and able to spend $500, $1000, or $2,000+ for an editor. If you can’t afford this perhaps sending in 100 pages of your novel will suffice and the editor’s comments can lead you in the right direction. 

I decided on hiring a developmental editor. I wanted notes on plot structure, pacing, characters, and suggestions for revision. My budget was $1000. 

After you’ve answered the above questions, you can start your search for a professional editor. Here is where I looked:

  • Agents who blog– I follow Rachelle Gardners blog and found this list of freelance editors. Find which ones seem appropriate for the job.
  • Genre freelance editors– Editors specialize. Use your search engine to find a freelance editor in your genre, i.e Christian Historical Fiction freelance editor. Under that search ‘only’ 1 million results are returned (just go to the first five or 10 names and research).
  • Editorial Freelancers Association: This directory narrows your search.
  • Ask a writer-On Facebook I follow several writers whose books I really enjoy. I picked three of them, who write in similar genres, and asked them who their editor was or if they could suggest an editor. 

I thought the last one, ‘ask a writer,’ was a long shot, but this is how I found my editor, an author of three novels (two award winning), an MFA college instructor in creative writing, and who knew, but she is a freelance editor also. On her author page she listed her services. 


In less than a week the author/editor agreed, in writing, on what I wanted from the developmental edit, the price, and the turn around time. Half of the price was upfront and the other half on completion. After the edit I could also meet with her for an hour to discuss, in person or via phone, the edited MS. Luckily she was an hour away from my home town so I availed myself of this consultation.

Three weeks later I received three typed pages of comments on Character Development for each character, Plot/Structure, Conflict, Descriptions, Pacing, and Voice. 

This was followed by 18 page by page, chapter by chapter notes. On 240 pages of MS there were notes in the margins, questions or highlights on some prose she thought was poignant or well stated. We met in person soon after, and she answered the questions I had.

Two months later I finished the revisions. I felt so good about the work I decided to apply for a writing fellowship for the writing retreat sponsored by A Room Of Her Own, AROHO. 


Part of the application was to send in the first 10 pages of your manuscript. I did and was accepted. Here’s my mug and a rambling bio (rambling because I was still stupified) on the AROHO “Participating Writers” page. I’m in awe of the company in which I share the page.

With the AROHO acceptance I decided that it was time to revise my query letter again (eighth time), and I sent 10 queries out. Within three days I received a request for a full manuscript. Yup, I was jazzed and stupified now. 

Alas, three weeks later I received the rejection letter from the agent. After reading the MS she decided she wasn’t the agent for the work. I felt like the girl who was asked out by her crush, the date made, no phone call, then the “it’s not you, it’s me,” line. 

But no boo-hoo’s here. Back to butt in chair. 

It’s time to gather up another 10-20 agent names and send out another batch of query letters. 

If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please feel free to tell us about your recommendations. 


AutoCrit, C.S. Lakin, Critique groups, finding professional editor, Grammarly, Holly Lisle, One Pass Manuscript, Revision, self editing, Writing

Five Tools to Use After Writing "The End"

gettyimages

After 12 drafts of my first manuscript I believe I now have a few ideas on what to do after writing “The End,” on a first draft. No matter how capable you are as a writer and proofreader, your first draft is just that-a draft

Writers use several different ways to revise their writing: critique groups, beta readers, or scrutinizing each chapter with a lice comb. You can do that, ad nauseum, but I found that delving into your manuscript using a method such as Holly Lisle’s One Pass Manuscript revision process was the most helpful. 

Yes it can be a difficult task, but isn’t what you want to say worth it? If it’s not, then perhaps you should rethink why you’re writing the novel, short story or memoir that you initially thought was a good idea. 

Unfortunately, I did not realize the wisdom of using a revision process until after several months of long and laborious critique group sessions. Don’t get me wrong, the right critique group can be invaluable and I belong to an awesome group, but why waste their time, and yours, ‘critiquing’ a piece that isn’t ready. 

Now that your first revision is done, it’s time to make like a gold miner and  sift through the muck, dark water, and rocks. Run your sediment and dirt clods through the sluice by using these (or similar) writing tools:



1. Spell check- I use Grammarly to make any grammar corrections and list the use of passive phrases. This tool goes beyond the MS word auto check function. And it’s free.

2. Editing– How many times did you use words that weaken your writing by using “and,” “that,” adverbs “-ly‘s” or repeated a word six times on one page? (five too many). 

AutoCrit identifies these types of problems and can identify sentence variations, cliches and readability. Copy and paste 1,000 words of your revised draft through this software tool and you’ll be amazed at what comes up. 
gettyimages
Now that you’ve rinsed your nugget of gold through the water it’s time to fix your revision. Do this before you meet with your critique or writing group.
3. Critique Group-Take your first 5 pages or whatever is the limit for your group and ask your fellow writers for some specific information about your writing:
  • Have I introduced the main character in the first few lines?
  • Did I introduce some sort of a conflict, either internal or external? 
  • Have I begun the story in the middle of something that’s happened or about to happen? 
  • Have I given the reader a sense of the setting? year, locale
  • Is there a hint at the character’s need, desire, goal, fear, dream?
  • Is the dialogue (if any) concise, at cross purposes, and give a sense of the characters personality? 
  • Do you consider my first line a “hook?” Does it give an image that grabs the reader, makes them go to the next line, the next paragraph, the next page? 
4. Self-critique: That rock is beginning to look more recognizable. Yes, it may be gold. Use this checklist I found at C.S. Lakin’s “Critique My Manuscript. Read it, use it, revise your manuscript. You’re shining up your nugget.

5. Professional Editing: Your piece of gold may be at a dull shine, but you want to polish up this baby, fashion it into best it can be, see the true luster of your work, then hire an expert.
gettyimages
Yes, this tool is the most expensive in your toolbox. The decision to find and pay for a professional editor to review your work is highly personal. It can be scary. You have to decide if you will pay for another set of eyes to constructively criticize your manuscript. But wouldn’t you take your gold nugget to a reputable jeweler, have it appraised, help make it into something beautiful? 
If you answered “yes” to the question above, come back next week when I’ll take you through my experience in looking for a professional editor. 

Until then, put your butt in the chair and keep writing.