Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Revise…With New Eyes

This week, I’ve been absorbed in revisions. I’ve been working on two short stories, and, of course, the biggie: my new manuscript. This editing frenzy has taught me that revision can be a writer’s BFF or most mortal enemy, sometimes both within the span of a few minutes. Luckily, I’m not undergoing the revision process alone, and neither should you…so here are four tips I’m just dying to share!

1. Let your manuscript sit. My instructor told me to leave my manuscript completely untouched for at least a week or two, so that I could see it with fresh eyes when I started revising. Although this was a nearly impossible feat, I fought my urge to attack the revisions right away. And surprise– I really did see the story more clearly after my brief hiatus.

2. Get a second pair of ojos. Ojos are eyes in Spanish, and for a thorough revision, you need them. Using the ojos of your family and friends can be somewhat helpful, mostly for an ego boost. (Yay, that’s great! You did it! I looove your writing!!) But, unless you come from a long line of literary experts, a second pair of trained (i.e. professional) ojos is recommended. My writing instructor provided me with pages of useful feedback. If you’re not taking a writing class, just Google freelance editors–there are tons of them just waiting to help you!

3. Organize your revision. To organize effectively, you must take all the editorial feedback you’ve received and find some logical way to apply it without leaving anything out. Naturally, it will be different for everyone, but I can tell you the system that’s working for me. I compiled a chapter-by-chapter list of changes that my instructor suggested. Some were flat-out editorial changes (i.e new wording here), and others were deeper plot/character considerations. This compilation has served as a useful checklist throughout my section-by-section revisions.

4. Read up. Currently, I’m reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book is chock-full of very specific editing tips for every aspect of a manuscript: dialogue, showing character emotion, interior monologue, etc,etc, etc. Writer’s Digest is a tried-and-true source, too.

Hopefully, this will illuminate some dark corners of the revision process. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll get back to my editing;)

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Reflections on Love

Love

Happy Valentine’s Day all! Love is in the air, and I just can’t think of anything else:) So, I’ve decided that today’s blog will be dedicated to love, and all its mysteries and forms. Here are some of my favorite quotes about love.

“Times and chances, and dreams and fancies
All range, and change, and pass from sight
But love is life’s
One steadfast light”

This quote comes from a book of vocal exercises, written in the early 1900s. I sang it in tenth grade voice lessons, and the lyrics always stuck with me. They’re timeless, and so true. Love, in all its forms, is life’s one steadfast light. The world around us changes everyday, but our love illuminates our lives with its constancy.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” –Lao Tzu

Beautiful.

“Where there is love, there is life.” –Gandhi

My fiance Antonio gave me a golden bookmark engraved with this quote on our very first V-day…and two months later, he said those three magical words, “I love you.” At that point, I experienced Gandhi’s sentiments firsthand; feeling and receiving love brought me to life. Love makes us all more alive.

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” –Aristotle

Nothing more need be said.

“A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.” –Max Muller

Without love, we may be alive, but we’re not really living. I take this to mean any kind of love, not just romantic love. Loving family, friends, pets, and hobbies can light up life like sunshine. So, my V-day challenge is this: love with all your heart! 

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“Novel” Reflections: Lessons Learned After Completing a Manuscript

At last! I have finished the first draft of my latest YA manuscript! It’s been quite a journey, and now, of course, comes the fun part: editing. I’m sure my writing will evolve even more in the months to come, but here are some reflections on finishing my second YA manuscript. Think of it as a “lessons learned” post.

Super-Useful Writing Lessons:
1. Read up. Not only did I read Writer’s Digest and tons of contemporary YA fiction, I also read what I now refer to as the holy grail of writing: Hooked, by Les Edgerton. This is a book entirely based on opening scenes, and it’s both entertaining and informative. Editors, agents, and ultimately readers will decide whether a book is worth their time during the opening chapters. Thanks to Nancy Butts, my instructor and an incredible MG author, for turning me on to this book. It’s been an invaluable resource as I’ve crafted my second manuscript. Which brings me to my next lesson…

2. Take a class. I thought I knew everything about writing because I’ve been doing it ever since I could hold a pencil, but…surprise…I hadn’t even scratched the surface! I have taken two online courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature, and they’ve helped me to hone my writing style, draft query letters, polish up my short stories, research the writer’s market, and, ultimately, complete the first draft of my YA novel manuscript.

3. Do webinars. Writer’s Digest offers them every Thursday. If I’m not available when the webinars go “live,” I can purchase them to peruse at my convenience. I’ve “attended” webinars about query letters, pitchcraft, and how to draft a killer YA novel. These webinars feature agents and editors, so they not only provided me with a wealth of information, they also introduced me to agents in my genre…agents I may be querying later.

4. Attend conferences. The Writer’s Digest West conference I attended was pivotal; I made several key contacts in the industry, picked up writing pointers from well-known authors, and learned about self-publishing, marketing, and building a platform. Which brings me to my last lesson…

5. Social media is important. I’m not a social media guru, but I like to think of myself as fairly proficient. Twitter and Word Press have allowed me to connect with my target audience and fellow writers, and I’m constantly reading the blogs of other authors and agents. One of my favorite blogs is Mary Kole’s kidlit.com. It’s chock full of helpful hints…directly from an agent!

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