Saturday, March 18, 2017

The List

Rewriting is super easy...
said no writer EVER.

The first time I realized the importance of rewriting and notes, I was nineteen and in school for screenwriting. It was my favorite teacher who said the phrase I'd never forget: "writing is rewriting."

The term first draft meant nothing to me back then as I only did one pass before moving onto the next project. I immediately took the wisdom to heart, and the words became a mantra over the years. But just because I understood "writing is rewriting" didn't mean I automatically knew how to execute it.

During the second semester, we had a class dedicated to the subject, and were tasked with rewriting one of our scripts. With my new mantra in mind, I set out to dedicate myself to the rewrite. We had nine people in our class and everyone gave notes on every script. So that was eight people, eight different opinions, with about two-three notes each, bringing the total in somewhere between 16-24. So, what did I do? Eager and inexperienced, I implemented them all. The result, a 200 plus page script (your average movie is about 110) full of nonsense. If the script was a plate of food, it would've been spaghetti with ice cream and relish smothered turducken. Yummy. No?

After I submitted my script and realized my mistake, I vowed I would find a system that worked for me. In the end, and after years of writing, it came down to three ridiculously simple steps.

1. Receiving the Notes

There's a moment when you initially receive the feedback that your gut let's you know if a note feels right or wrong. Go with it. If it feels wrong, it probably is.
That said, don't confuse your hurt ego with your gut. Gut in writing, I feel, is just your subconscious story-logic, while the hurt ego manifests itself through anger or in unjustified refusal. Remember that there's a reason your reader feels the way they do.

If you're dealing with a inexperienced reader, I.e. not your agent, editor, or fellow writer, learn to decipher their message. Let's imagine your gum-chewing friend Lucy says, "I
would totally love it if the guy she likes was named Edward instead... and if he was a vampire."

Your initial thought is probably: Lucy, you suck.

But what Lucy said may actually have meant: "I didn't relate to the MC's love interest."

Voila. A note you can work with.

2.  Making the List

'Twas a very average and unspecial day, when I realized I was rewriting in a very hap hazardous, cluster f**k-y way. I'd start at the beginning and work my way through the notes as they came up. If your notes affect nothing but the page you're touching, this system works great. By the time you reach the end, pop the champagne, you're done. However, more often then not, one change sends a ripple effect through the manuscript. So, about 35, 000 K in you're not only dealing with the change coming up on the next pages, but you're simultaneously dealing with all the ripples from previous changes. The result isn't only a cluster f**k, but also something that overwhelms you and makes you feel like you'd rather stick something sharp in the eye than deal with it.

The day I wrote a precise list of changes, along with their ripples, and went through them note by note, my rewriting process from I hate my life to, Meh, this is not so bad. The simple action of numbering the notes, then crossing them off as they were implemented, made the process  ridiculously manageable. I, personally, don't even take them down in order; I just like number them so I can say: "Only number 6 and 9 left. Saucey."

This way, if you're having a particularly draining day (like the time I woke up to a teething baby, a dog with diarrhea, no toner, and a low-on-battery smoke detector going beep.....beep.....beep until I banged it loose with my Swifter) you might want to go with an easier note. If you wake up to the smell of coffee, yawning like a Disney princess, and birds tweeting on your window sill, it might be a good day to reel in that big sucker you've been dreading.

3. The Read

I didn't start doing this until my books came out on audio and I had a listen. Though Elizabeth Norton, who narrates the series, does an amazing job bringing the characters to life, all I could hear when listening were unnecessary words and repetitive sentences. So I started The Read.

No, I don't mean read your manuscript. I know you have, one million times. However, squinting at you computer's bright screen, while you read and fix, fix and read, isn't reading. Print your manuscript, once your think it's ready for the next set of eyes, then get cozy and read it, not like an author, but like a reader. I'll even read it out loud to myself, just to catch odd story
movements, certain adverbs, and other unnecessary words. This part of the process might be my favorite as it involves me, a couch, and a variety of snacks. It's my license to be lazy.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Past Year

I know, I know. You thought I'd died since I haven't posted since the turn of the century. Surprise, I'm alive...clinically, at least.

I've had a bit of a rough, but rewarding year. It all started after my last birthday, when I took a test, one I didn't have to study for, and was graded with two pink lines, a plus if you will.

The nine months (although that's a lie, it's actually ten) that followed were just as "magical" as people claimed them to be. It certainly felt magical spending every morning hugging my new best friend, the toilette bowl. Along with the other "exciting" things that happens to your body, it turned out I lost my ability to write. The computer screen made me nauseated, the thought of cohesive storytelling boggled my mind, and I spent a lot of time bawling when someone mentioned my series, Sapphire, or the color blue. To be fair, I also once cried because I'd put mismatched socks on and realized I'd have to take one back off. Hormones are a b**ch, people.

When I finally started feeling better, I still couldn't dig myself out of the writing block, especially with Sapphire #4. I was burned out on characters I've always loved to write, and a plot I was previously very excited about. As time passed and my brain remained at a standstill, I started panicking. Not only did I have readers waiting for the next installment, but my deadline was approaching.
Finally, I spoke to my agent, who is not only exceptional at her job, but a very lovely person who takes human problems to heart. Long story short, she got me an extension.
Sometime during the end of my third trimester, the token finally dropped and I was able to write again. Between peeing every 30 minutes, trying to roll my whale-like butt out of bed, and eating Gardettos with watermelon, I wrote until my fingers bled. Days before I hit my due date, I got project X sent off to the agent, and was finally making substantial headway with Sapphire #4. I even asked my nurse if I could bring my laptop to the hospital and write while I waited for my little one's debut. She laughed...and laughed...and laughed.
In retrospect, I get it.
Since I don't want to show you a photo of myself at that time, I'll show you a picture of an actual whale and let your imagination do the rest.

I went through an array of highs and lows in the following weeks. Greeting my little girl was at the very top of the best-ever list, while having post-delivery complications and nearly bleeding to death was probably one of the less favorable moments. I'd put the experience somewhere between all my teen years combined, and that time I accidentally drank expired milk.

Nonetheless, you'll be happy to hear (or possibly very sad, depending on how you feel about the series) that I'm back on track and that Sapphire #4, officially known as SACRIFICING SAPPHIRE is
in the middle of its pre-publication process as we speak. Yay!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Death by Post-it

I'm likely to be found buried under a pile of sticky notes. That's right, that's how I'll go: Death by Post-it.

For those who have followed my tweets and posts (at this blog or at The Book Stops Here) in the past few months, you've probably come to the right conclusion. Yes, I'm suffering my worst bout of writers block ever. I've written about visits from my old pal Writers Block before, but this time it's different, something has evolved. Like a virus, Writers Block, whom I've always found a way to get rid of before, has mutated into a new kind of super Block, one I cannot beat for the life of me.

While I still try to write with the mutated Writers Block, every writer will tell you that forced writing, is merely an imitation of writing. That said, while the words are not in my favor, some things in my mind are still working. Much like how they claim Hope to be the last things to leave the human body, it seems Inspiration is the last thing to leave this writer. While I can't seem to put a story together on the laptop, not even at a second grade level, I can still come up with ideas, concepts, and scenes.
So, what happens to writer when they have been infected by a mutated Writers Block virus, but is still able to get inspiration? While being hit with an extreme feed of images on a daily basis, and without the ability to get the images out in a piece of work, the writer may A) go bananas. B) end up creatively dead. Or C, be forced to find a different outlet.

I, refusing to creatively die or go bananas, opted for C. And the answer, my dear Watson, was elementary. Post-its. That's right. The only thing keeping me mentally afloat right now is the multicolored sticky notes, possibly invented by Romy and Michele. Post-its: the prefect size to hold my discombobulated thoughts.

And while they are saving me from dying in a literal sense, I've come to realize they may be the
actual death of me as the probability of me drowning in them grows by the day. There are Post-its everywhere. My car. My purse. My bedroom. My desk. I even found one on my butt yesterday. No idea how long I'd walked around with a pink sticky note reading: "And...a partridge and a pear tree?" (Aston - Chapter 7.) I just hope it ended up there after I went to Walgreens and not before.

I think there comes a time in everyone's life where they approach the cross roads of keep fighting (Right) and moving on (Left). While pondering whether to go right or not, one should simply ask oneself the age-old question: is this really worth me drowning in a pile of Post-its?

My answer: yes, of course it is. Anything worthwhile in life is worth drowning in a pile of Post-its over.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Book Stops Here

For those who don't know, I occasionally also write for a blog formerly known as the Prose & Cons, made up of a community of writers, editors, agents, and weirdos (the latter would be me.)

Recently, the group formerly known as the Prose & Cons, changed their name, and relaunched their site. Nearly each and every member contributed a writing piece to reintroduce themselves.

Without farther ado:

The new and improved The Book Stops Here



Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Between the "rewrites" of project X, and the "writing" of the Sapphire #4 MS, I decided to squeeze in a birthday yesterday.

I had a spectacularly amazing, but low-key day which included: breakfast in bed, Dim Sum, and two orangutans. I could explain, but I'd much rather leave you all wondering how the orangutans came into the picture. I'm not sure how I got to be one year away from the big three-oh. I honestly always planned on just turning twenty-five until I died, but with neither science or biology on my side I guess I have to give up on that dream. Mia-0. Time-1.

Today, it was back to the muddy water of reality. Got up at 6.30 and drank my coffee while starting to "write." ("Writing" = staring at screen while baffled by one's past choices.) As I sat there, "writing", I wondered when my beloved muse would be back, and where she went in the first place. Perhaps she took out her well-earned PTO and went to the Bahamas, or Boca Raton if she's 55+. I then decided to take a break from "writing" to google muses and call my insurance company. (Note that it was not to ask where they thought my muse had gone on vacation. It was a separate matter.)

After lunch, a work out, and this post, I now have four hours left of "writing" time and muse-pondering, before I may call it a day. Wish me luck.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Interviews, Guest Spots & More!

Between writing, life, and other time-consuming things, promo-time is usually not something I have the chance to enjoy. Promo-time, i.e those few months leading up to the new book release, usually involves, but is not limited to, interviews, blog tours, book clubs, count down posts, and guest spots.

Because I'm usually already under emotional stress at that time, I don't remembering much from those months as they whoosh by in a flurry of emails, tweets, and Q & As. Lucky for me, and my stress-induced goldfish memory, I can take a day like today, months after the promo is over to look at what I did while in the "black out" period.

Here or some of the interviews and guests spots from last year. A few of the topics I discuss are: Sentencing Sapphire, growing up in Sweden, and book 4 and 5 of the Sapphire Dubois Series.     

Interviewed by Garrett Calcaterra

Interviewed by Peter Hogenkamp

Book Blitz Excerpt & Interview 

Interviewed by Lily Gardner

Guest Spot at Readful Things

Interviewed by Ash Krafton


Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Holidays

Must say I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays this year. Diversion Books out Stalking Sapphire for free through December, and it was a great Christmas present to watch it climb Amazon's bestseller lists in the US, UK, and Canada.

Between ham cooking, Turkish delight eating, and A Christmas Story watching, I spent the rest of the holidays finishing the final chapters of Sapphire's #4's rough draft, and yelling "Mush! Mush!" at my #1 Beta Reader until he finished reading the latest draft of Project X.

Now, unfortunately, I have rough, and I do mean rough, draft in one hand, and a long list of major notes, that I have no idea how to implement into a fifth draft, in the other. This of course means months and months of rewriting a head of me, which in turn means a lot of fun, laughter, and joy in front of the old lap top...said no writer ever.

Despite the work load and the slight panicky feel it brings, I'm looking forward to 2016's payoffs. Sapphire #4 will be out and about later this year. And, hopefully, I'll get to introduce a new, and dear character to my readers.

I hope everyone will have a prosperous 2016; you all deserve it!