About Writing

A Lesson in Patience

As my first novel nears publication, I find myself living constantly in my head. At times I am like a child waiting for Santa. At other times, I am the marketing guru brainstorming ways to sell my book. At other times, I revert to the teacher I am in my real life. No matter which persona inhabits my head, they conspire to keep my from sleeping!

When children wait for Santa, they grin eagerly and positively quiver with excitement. Briona Glen Publishing targeted March 2012 for release of my first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE. All I knew about publishing came from working in a bookstore thirty years ago. At that time there were no ebooks. Hardbacks were released, and a year later the paperback came out. My novel will be released as a paperback and an ebook. When I signed with the publisher last summer, seven months seemed awfully fast to publish a book. My excitement has made it the longest seven months of my life–it truly feels like I’m having another baby! Round after round of revising has finally led to the line edit stage. The cover is almost done. Then on to typesetting. It’s tantalizingly close, like when you have half the windows open on that chocolate Advent calendar.

Meanwhile, my marketing ideas are clamoring to get out of my head. I have a blog tour on hold and three people who want to interview me on their blogs. I’ve looked up bookstores in my area to set up author signings, and was appalled to find only seven bookstores in the San Jose area! There’s a writing club at a local high school I want to contact, and of course my Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter followers will have to be notified on the novel’s release. Two out-of-town former students have volunteered to trumpet the news in their states. I have three blogs of my own that will crow it to the stars, and local coffee shops that will put up flyers. I am looking into summer conferences to attend. If you don’t hear about the release of ON A WING AND A DARE, it won’t be for lack of my trying!

The entire process of publishing has been a good reflection on my teaching. I strive to make everything I teach relevant in the real world. I wrote and revised my novel over two years, and I have been revising the revisions for the past six months per my editor’s suggestions. None of my students are able to complain now that their story is perfect and needs no editing! If you haven’t been looking at it for multiple months, you can still make it better! Now my novel is going through a line edit. That means CUPS–capitalization, usage, punctuation, and spelling. Every day in class we work on DOL (Daily Oral Language) and I consider myself something of an expert. I know my students will have a field day if the line editor catches too many mistakes in ON A WING AND A DARE!

Release date…to be announced SOON! I just have to be patient

On my Kindle: Fablehaven #4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

Expository, Narrative

Editing and Revising

Your written piece is not yet finished even when you place the period after the last sentence of your first draft.  Take a break, celebrate that you’ve completed a big chunk of it, then begin editing and revising.

REVISING is when you change the words to make the actual sentences sound better.  This can be very subjective, but there are a few basic rules I can give you.

1.  Eliminate repeated beginnings of sentences and paragraphs.  If all the paragraphs in your essay/story begin with ‘the’ it’s going to be boring for your reader.  Make sure two sentences in a row don’t start with the same word, and try to start all sentences within the paragraph differently.  Try rearranging the sentence to start with a different word (The dog chased his ball down the street becomes Chasing his ball, the dog ran down the street.)  You might also try adding a prepositional phrase to the beginning of the sentence.  Don’t forget a comma after the phrase!  (The dog chased his ball down the street becomes In the morning, the dog chased his ball down the street.)

2. Make better word choices.  Look at the nouns and verbs.  Can you choose one great word to take the place of an adverb and a plain verb?  (ran quickly becomes scampered)  or to replace a couple of adjectives? (very red becomes scarlet)  HINT: There are a ton of fabulous color words.  Learn a handful and use them!

3.  Add sensory details.  The setting is easy for you to imagine.  After all, it’s in YOUR head.  The reader, however, needs words on the page to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch what your characters do.  Add a prepositional phrase or a carefully selected adjective to your sentence.  (With gale force, the frigid wind rattled the window.)  Do NOT overdo the adjectives!  (With supersonic gale force, the frigid strong howling wind rattled the glass paned window.)

EDITING happens after your revision is complete.  Go through your piece and look for C.U.P.S. (capitalization, usage, punctuation, and spelling)  This can be very tricky because if you are good at these things you wouldn’t have made any errors in them in the first place, right?  Have a classmate, a parent, or a brother or sister read over it if you can.  Sometimes, if you ask for help, your teacher will read it before grading it.  Learn to use the spell-check on your computer for those pieces that you type.  Remember the spell-check will not catch words that are spelled correctly but used wrongly. (Eye sea ewe half too pales of water instead of I see you have two pails of water.)  Have a dictionary close by, and a reference guide for those pesky commas.  Remember, if you can’t find a rule, don’t put a comma there!

Any other good tips out there for revising and editing?  Please share!

On my Kindle: The Help by Kathryn Stockett