Friday, March 5, 2010

Nuts and Bolts of Writing 101, and Cats with Sweet Breath.

My cats had bad breath. The vet said they had gingivitis. General anasthetics  and several extractions (and a whole heap of money) were involved. It's done now, but it was rather a hellish week. They're home, of course, with sweet breath, reasonably themselves (although Baby is particularly grouchy with Jeeves - I've never heard such cat language - as if he caused all her discomfort).

But I did no new writing; I was too distracted to concentrate on the current manuscript. I did manage to tweak the short synopsis of Strachan's Attic. Sarahbeth suggested it needed to be a tiny bit more descriptive, that it's a ghost story, whether I like putting those words to it or not.  So I obliged. I guess it's clearer. I amended the sidebar and webpage blurb as well.

I'm no longer making the first chapters for all three novels available on my site, only the blurbs. I thought about it a lot. For those who know me, who like to keep up with my work, it was good to have them there,  and I'll do it for any new books for a brief period, but the idea that an agent might pop by on a whim is overly-optimistic. Knowing what we know about over-worked agents, do we really think that they go blog-browsing, looking for their next great writer? I doubt it. If they do, my blogs alone will have to suffice.

I've mellowed in the sixteen months since I started this blog. Looking back, I was so full of worries and questions, but these postings have been (I've said this before) like a mini-course in the nuts and bolts of writing. I mean, I know how to write (I should do, after all these years), but the technical stuff associated with producing an agent-worthy and pristine manuscript has been hugely useful. I've met so many remarkable writers here, published and unpublished, either because they contacted me, or I noticed them in my research, and they had their own personal anecdotes for producing the most professional-looking manuscript, the most eye-catching query.

I've finished that 101 course now, I guess. I think I've learned all the basic rules; I'm even confident enough to break some. I'm no longer that naive, tentative blogger I was at first. I wonder what's ahead. Just so long as you guys are there as well, I'll be fine. It's like belonging to the best club in the world. A Bloomsbury Group. An Algonquin Round Table. You could charge membership fees.

I have two agents who are prepared to read Hafan Deg's full manuscript. One had requested it over a year ago, just after I signed with the UK agent, and is still interested, but away for two weeks. The other (a friend's agent) is swamped  but will look at it in April.

I've now sent out five queries for Strachan's Attic. I received two instant know, "Dear Author"...which means it's doubtful anyone read more than the opening intro, but the other three are still active.

To quote Heather, also in Query Mode, "All appendages that can be crossed, are crossed." For me, I managed six, but as I age, it could soon be eight.

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Quotes to Consider

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, Either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing." ~Benjamin Franklin

"Well behaved women rarely make history."~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”~William G.T. Shedd (1820-1894), theologian, teacher, pastor

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." ~Franklin D Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd U.S. president

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), essayist, poet, philosopher

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~Mark Twain

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."
~ Wayne Gretzky