Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Waiting Game


After many minor complications the Silencing Sapphire manuscript finally got sent to my agent yesterday.

Though I will soon be entering months of applying notes from the agent and editor, I am right now faced with something I haven't had for awhile: free time.
I can't do anything with the manuscript until the notes come back, so my option is either to take a risk and use the time to start working on the 3rd book, knowing that major movements in Silencing Sapphire could still change, or do the more reasonable, yet unthinkable, nothing at all.

Besides from my vacation to Sweden a few months back, I haven't willingly done "nothing at all" for about seven years. Every waken moment that I haven't been working, running errands, or doing other obligations, have been spent writing.

When I had dead time on Stalking Sapphire last year, every second of it was spent on the sequel and quite frankly, I don't know what I would do with myself if I had two full days off.

The last time I remember doing nothing at all, I was in my late teens and I'm not so sure lying hung over in my pajamas on my mother's couch all day, watching TV and whining: "mo-ho-om, what's for dinneeer?" would fly in my adult life.
First of all, I would panic and feel guilty, knowing that I was wasting a perfectly good writing day. Second of all, if I now whined "what's for dinneeer?" the only reply from my husband would be: "don't know, what are you cooking?" and it's not because I'm a 50s housewife, but because my husband is a terrible cook and has simply been banned from the kitchen. His best gourmet meals often involve such fine ingredients as chopped hot dogs and hamburger helper. Bon appetite.

Still, I woke up today with the intention of giving "nothing at all" a go, just to see how it would play out. I made it to about 9 a.m., then casually peered over my husband's shoulder as he was plotting out his CASTLE spec script and asked if he needed help. To my relief, he said yes and I have now managed to make it past noon with only six hours to go before I can officially call it a night.

I have a small feeling I won't make it that long before my laptop magically opens on its own and my fingers conveniently start showing signs of alien hand syndrome right above the keyboard.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stalking Sapphire Audio Book

Hello Clarice,

Just found out STALKING SAPPHIRE will be an audio book as well! Very excited about this!
The narrator, Elizabeth Morton, started recording yesterday and I can't wait to hear it. I don't have any details regarding the release date, price, etc., but I'll make sure to share the minute I do.

The best part about this is that Stalking Sapphire will become available to people who couldn't get it before. So for those who don't have an iPad, Kindle, Sony, Nook, Kobo--like my dad--because they are either too expensive or not available in your country, this is a great option!

Right now, the Silencing Sapphire manuscript is undergoing a massive clean before it goes off to my lovely agent. This is all part of the previously mentioned Step 4 of my writing process and it's where I try to find all the errors, typos, grammatical disasters, and misused words.
The only way I can describe it is to sit armed with a magnifying glass and a scrubby on a floor which looks clean but is actually hiding mounds of miniscule dirt molecules. The only thing you can do is to examine the floor inch by inch with your magnifying glass and hope you catch the little suckers.

Now, for me, there tends to be a lot of adverbs and grammatical errors. Though I can't use it as an excuse, the fact is, I am Swedish. But I also went into this knowing my nationality is a moot point. To the literary world you can be from Mars for all they care, they just want the English language to read like...well English; a very reasonable demand.

Though I have improved over the past six years and though I try to hide my Swedish-isms the best I can, the first 19 years of my life inevitably leaks into the writing. On a good note, all those Swedish-isms have helped me find ways to make some of the manuscript cleaning less like pulling teeth and more like going in for an annual check up. It is fun? No, but at least you get to save your teeth and use them for much more necessary thing like chewing, smiling, and--most importantly--that thing people do when they fold their lip into their gums and look like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs. It cracks me up.

To all writers, European, American, or Martian,
(Everyone else: look away, it's about to get bo-ho-ring. Author-nerdiness at its best.)

To find and eliminate unnecessary adverbs, you can put -ly- in your document search and catch a lot of them in less time than it would take you to read through all 70 000 - 100 000 words. This can shave off a lot on your word count and help quicken the pace. Same goes for he said, she said, which we sometimes use even though it's already understood by action or order.
For me, I know which words I tend to misuse or overuse and have made a list of them. For instance, for some reason I type defiantly instead of definitely--combing two of my issues--and I usually catch it in the adverb search as well. I put all the other misused/overused words in the doc search and it allows me to catch and correct them in one quick sweep.

It is now time for me to go reheat my instant coffee (yuck, but convenient) and dig back into Silencing Sapphire, magnifying glass in hand.   


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Precious Process


Got my manuscript back with way less notes than I expected. Which could  be good or bad. The person reading it could simply have overlooked various problems, or, the script is actually better than I thought it was. Crossing my fingers for the latter.
Either way, I have officially reached step 4 of my 5 step writing process.

Step 1:
This is where I write the rough draft after spending time on all the things that lead up to step one that involve plotting, structuring,  treatments etc. The first draft is generally the worst; a blue print of something that will later resemble a viable manuscript, but it's also my favorite step. This phase is where I get into the space, often referred to as "the zone", where real-time ceases to exist along with people, sounds, and obligations. I can sit for 8 hours straight without realizing that I'm starving or in the desperate need of a pee. A wonderful time for me, not so much for the people in my life who insists I need to join the living and do unnecessary things like sleep, pay bills, or give other humans more advanced replies than yes, no, or: make sure they put chopsticks in the bag this time. (I absolutely hate eating Chinese food with a fork--it's just plain wrong.)

Step 2:
Is the most depressing, exhausting, exciting and tedious step where I rewrite without consulting anybody else, because I already know what's wrong. All I have to do is figure out away to fix it. Kind of like sitting on a floor in an ocean of puzzle pieces. You know they all go together, but you're sitting with something that looks like an eyeball in one hand and a piece of the sky in the other and have no idea where to even start. For me, this particular part of the process involves a lot of self-pity, coffee, crying, and way too many donuts. While Sapphire's nemesis is the serial killer, mine is the glazed donut. Though Sapphire usually conquers her nemesis. I never do.

Step 3:
Handing the manuscript my husband, plus others, for notes, corrections, and all that jazz. This is both rewarding and horrible. Suddenly there are holes you didn't think the script had, and the parts you were sure people were going to hate, they love. Very confusing. Often calls for a donut or two, even though I'm technically already out of the donut phase.

Step 4:
Starts with implementing the notes received in step 3, after which the script gets cleaned, made presentable, and sent off to the important peeps (no offense to my husband) like my agent and editor at the publishing house, where I receive more notes and corrections. So finally, once those notes are implemented as well, the blueprint has become several drafts of a manuscript and the manuscript has finally become a book that is ready to be seen and judged by the most feared and appreciated human in this whole process: the reader.

Step 5:
I hope for the best and slowly start transforming from creepy Gollum-looking writer, who hides in the shadows and hugs a manuscript while hissing: "My precious." and back into a normal human being. Well...relatively normal human being.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Evil Red Pen

The time has come,

After months of writing, rewriting, deleting, editing, and reinserting what was previously deleted, it is finally time to hand over SILENCING SAPPHIRE for a first read.

The first read of my manuscript is generally done by my husband who, besides from being a very talented writer, also happens to be my toughest critic. The upside of being married to another writer is: they know what they're talking about. His notes are always constructive and on point regarding story lines, plot, character beats etc. The downside of being married to another writer is: they know what they're talking about.
I handed him the script this morning. 421 pages, double spaced, on crisp white paper; untainted by man. When I get it back it will be 421 pages, double spaced, on tattered paper that has been completely massacred by the evil red pen. Rarely is the evil red pen the bringer of good news. Besides from the occasional smiley face, its main job is to bring a blood bath of arrows, question marks, grammar corrections, and excruciatingly long notes.
My initial reaction to my husband's notes is usually to flip him off, which I do, then storm off and slam the door. Later, it settles and I realize he's right.
Now it may seem as though I'm being harsh on someone close to me who only does it to help, but trust me, it's okay. Half the time, I'm the one with the evil red pen making notes and he's the one doing the flipping, storming and slamming of the door. (Seriously, our neighbors love us) It's our own dysfunctional way of working together.

The first read is always particularly hard for me. After the first is out of the way it gets easier and by the time the manuscript is at the publisher, my writer's ego is completely out the window and I'm willing to do anything for the greater good of the story.

Will now go and try to refrain from staring intensely at him as he reads--people apparently really hate that; ask my sister--and perhaps go warn the neighbors for possible upcoming disturbances instead.