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Why aren’t you querying those finished novels?

A few days ago I shared a list of all my upcoming projects on social media. It looked something like this:

Here’s what’s coming down the pike:

  • Ashes in the Sky {Fire in the Woods #2} (In production Release date March 1)
  • Fire in the Woods #3 (Contracted: In developmental edits. Release date TBD)
  • YA Science Fiction (95% complete Work in Progress)
  • Adult Contemporary Science Fiction (Aliens) Mystery/Horror (First draft complete)
  • Adult Paranormal (Shifters) novel written in serial (Uncontracted: Number one complete)
  • YA Dystopian Romance (Uncontracted, Complete)
  • YA Space Opera – 8 book series (First draft complete)
  • Middle Grade Contemporary Adventure (First draft complete)
  • Hard Sci Fi Space Opera three book series (First Draft of all three books complete)

 

Outlined concepts prepped, outlined, and ready to be written:

  1. Adult/New Adult Fantasy-Medieval setting
  2. YA Contemporary Science Fiction (Aliens)
  3. Adult/YA Shifter (Dragons) First chapter written
  4. YA Time Travel (Aliens) First chapter written
  5. YA/New Adult Contemporary Science Fiction (Aliens)

 

A few people have asked why I have two complete novels, and four “First Draft complete” while it looks like I am currently working on something completely new.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t realize how many things I had partially finished until I created this list. For me, the fun of creating a story is the best part. I love starting a story, and torturing my heroes to the very end of the tale. So much fun!

Usually, by the time I finish a first draft, I’ve already outlined several new ideas that I came up with along the way. Some of these I take a few notes on, and then never go back to. But many, like the five above, get 7000-10000 word outlines, because I love the premise so much that I don’t want to lose even a single spec of the idea.

Unfortunately, I cannot type anywhere near as fast as my brain works, and that list of stories to write keeps getting longer.

Basically, when the time comes to write a new book, I just pick one from the list. Sounds easy. But sometimes there are several stories screaming at me, and even after I choose, a different story keeps me awake at night.

It all comes down to my writing process, which I love… but the business of publishing usually gets in the way of the fun part. That’s why I have so many first drafts right now.

When I finished this post, it was over 800 words long. I was going to talk about my writing process, but I’m going to leave that for my next post. I think this will explain some of the insanity of my current “too many almost-finished books” situation.

See you next time!

 

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You can find Fire in the Woods at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

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Careful

This is a great article.

This very thing happened to me just last night when my teenage son asked about the book I wrote and abandoned about three years ago because I realized I wasn’t talented enough to do the story justice.

Listening to him fanboy all over the story, and point out how he thought it was better than the NYT bestseller he just finished (I don’t know about all that) – but anyway, it really got me thinking about that story again, and wondering if I’d learned enough about writing to re-envision that epic tale.

I’m trying NOT to think about it until I get my current WIP done, but the story is very much on my mind again.

Views from a Window Seat

After years of writing without seeing a book land on shelves, I’m happy to have a new book in the world and two others on their way. But I still have work in earlier stages of progress to tend to. I love the generosity of early drafts, how they offer a place where mistakes are welcome. And I like the word-fixing of final drafts, the excitement of seeing a story head to new readers. I recently sent a book to a copy editor after some dwelling on whether it was okay to write “Ho, gluepots,” instead of “Ho, glue pots.” And making sure that the ten children in a family stuck to their proper ages during the narrative’s course of years. But those drafts in between that are good enough to show someone else, but still mistake-ridden? Well. I was just reminded of how fragile those can be.

Last month…

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Is Weisel Hostel Haunted? Well, This is what happened. It was a dark and stormy night…

Let me start off here by saying that I while I am a very spiritual person, I’m not really one to believe in ghosts. But a few things have happened to me recently to make me wonder.

Several years ago, I started attending writer’s retreats twice a year. If you haven’t been to one, I highly recommend it (but I did have a bad experience once that you can read about here. Make sure you know what you are getting into).

Anyway…

For a few years now we’ve dumped that cabin atmosphere and moved into a big, really old house. The advertising for Weisel Hostel says it is a hundred years old, but from the architecture and the ruins around it, I’d say it is probably closer to 200 years old.

I think the age is an important detail for what I’m about to discuss.

Now remember — I am not the type of person to scream “ghost”. I’m not even sure I’m screaming “ghost” now. But during my two hour drive home today, I found myself piecing things together.

Let me preface a little of this saying I LOVE shows like Ghost Hunters. I find the whole idea of it all, and the science behind ghost hunting very interesting. Especially when they debunk things and find out it is animals in the attic, or faulty wiring, or some sort of radio waves in the house. I find all that more believable than an actual ghost. Even when they record something and play it back, I rarely can hear what they say is a voice from beyond… so call me a hostile witness, because I don’t believe any of this.

But you be the judge.

The first time I stayed at Weisel Hostile in Quakertown, PA, I slept in the bottom bunk in the women’s dorm between the two windows. Now, You need to understand that this is a house built out of stones and mortar. I an sleeping in a bed pushed up against an outer wall, between two original windows. And it is November.

I woke up in the middle of the night freezing. I mean, not just cold… I mean, run out in the snow with bare feet kind of cold. I thought my feet were going to fall off. I was so cold I couldn’t even move. There were five other women sleeping in that room. No one else was cold, so I figured it was just because I was between the two windows, so the next night I piled on the blankets and was fine.

I remembered that experience, though.

The next time I went, I got there early and scoped out the bed right next to the radiator. I also had an extra blanket to go over my feet, and I had big wooly socks to sleep in.

All was right in the world! Nothing happened at all the second trip.

Fast forward one or two retreats. Again, everything has been fine for at least two trips. Nothing happened. I always have lots of blankets and layer when I go to sleep.

This time I am in the common room. I am busting out my word count like nothing! I am on such a roll that I’m afraid to stop. Slowly but surely, everyone else goes to bed. But there I was, still busting out words at 2:00 in the morning. (I am estimating that time. I know it was really late.)

Anyway… I am working at my laptop, and someone walks into the common room from the hall, past the two easy chairs, plops down on the couch next to the fire, and stares into the glowing embers. I stop typing, and am about to look up and say “You can’t sleep?” and I realize there is NO ONE THERE.

I stared at the empty couch.

After a minute, I decided I must be more tired than I thought. I packed up my computer and went to bed, saying “goodnight” to the empty seat by the fire, just in case, but laughing all the way up the stairs.

I really didn’t think too much about this. The whole thing just turned into a funny story I would tell the group now and again. Because, seriously, I know I was just really tired and seeing things.

But after this weekend, I am seriously wondering.

This is what happened:

I got to the hostile early and scope out my bed by the radiator (This has been “my spot” since the one freezing night)

The hostile is strangely warm. The fireplace is broken, so they must have had the heat pumping like crazy. It was almost hot when I went to bed. Remembering how cold it can get, I still wore pants, shirt, and socks to bed, but I didn’t bother with the extra blanket on my feet, because the heater was making the bed a toasty paradise. So, off I went to sleep.

In the middle of the night, I woke up FREEZING. Had someone turned off the radiator? I reached over and touched it. Nope. Still warm. So why was I so cold? My feet actually hurt. I thought about my fuzzy jacket laying across the top bunk, but I couldn’t get myself to move enough to go get it. You know how it is… tired and all… so I just braved it out and eventually went back to sleep.

That brings us to last night.

Now… No one is allowed to say I’m crazy. Ya hear? Because I am sure there is a logical explanation for what happened to me that has nothing to do with freak temperatures, or vision problems.

This is what happened…

I go to bed, and since it is so freakishly dark in the middle of the woods, I leave the light on in the hallway (probably mistake number one)

I then hung my laptop bag off the top bunk at the foot of my bed (mistake #2)

I remembered the freak cold in the middle of the night, so I grab an extra blanket and put it over where my feet will be. Despite the temperature being fine, I wear my sweats, two shirts, socks, and also my fuzzy jacket to bed. Hey, I was ready this time!

So, ready for a night in the arctic, I eased down into my bunk and cuddled in with my kindle.

Now, I have to admit mistake #3.

I was reading Death Becomes Me by Elizabeth Holloway… and the freaking GRIM REAPER is chasing the main characters, and there is this little girl with no eyes… so I am probably in a bad frame of mind to be sleeping in a somewhat unfamiliar place.

Anyway, as I’m reading, I see a shadow at the base of my bed. I stop and look, but the shadow is gone. I laugh at myself, because I know it’s the laptop bag.

Suddenly I realize my feet hurt. They’re cold? I’ve only been here for a few minutes. I check the radiator. It’s cuddly warm. I guess there is a draft from the window again. I go back to my reading. The shadow pops up again.

Why the heck did I hang my laptop there? I totally know that is what I keep seeing.

I thought of getting up and turning out the light in the hall, but then if I had to go to the little girl’s room in the middle of the night, I’d probably kill myself. So I left it on.

Three more shadow sightings, but I just ignored it. It was my imagination. I knew it was. I am, after all a logical, adult. I’m not afraid of things that go bump in the night.

The funny thing was that I really wasn’t scared. I never thought ghost. Not even for a second.

When I turned my Kindle off, and laid my head down to sleep, I didn’t even check the foot of my bed. I never even thought of looking under it.

I’m serious… I was not thinking supernatural, paranormal, or ANYTHING like that. I just closed the scary book that I was reading, cuddled into my pillow, and closed my eyes.

Now, I want to say I only closed my eyes for a second. I’m willing to say it was longer than that. I want to believe I fell asleep. In a way, I do believe I fell asleep. I just would be lying if I did not say that I don’t THINK I fell asleep.

I THINK I had only closed my eyes for a second.

Now remember … I am not a nut case.

Someone tried to push me out of the bed.

Yes. Physical. A push. I moved. Someone pushed me.

I gasped out loud and my eyes popped open to see who it was, and I was facing the wall. Only about six inches between my body and a few feet of two hundred year old stone and mortar.

I looked toward the center of the room, expecting there to be someone there, messing with me.

The room was empty, except for my roommate at the far side of the room, sleeping soundly.

Being a logical person, I decided I must have fallen asleep for a fraction of a second. Strange, though, that I have never had that kind of experience (being “pushed” awake) anywhere else. I did, right then, at least consider the possibility of a ghost. Especially since I was freezing.

Was I afraid? Oddly enough, no. I’d slept in that very bed at least six times. Nothing had ever happened. If it was a ghost, they were probably just messing with me. After all, I sleep in that bed twice a year. Maybe they feel like the know me?

I remembered a ghost show that I watched once where a woman said the ghost in her house would hide her keys, but return them if she asked. So I cuddled back to my pillow, closed my eyes, and said aloud, “I’m really tired. Please let me go to sleep.”

And that was it.

Except one more strange thing. I don’t know how long that I did sleep, but I woke up later really hot. I had to take my jacket off.

So, there you have it. That’s my story.

When I told my roommate the next day. You should have seen the look on her face. “Weren’t you scared?”

And honestly, I really wasn’t. I never felt threatened.

Will I sleep in that bed again?

YES!

The more I think about it, I definitely will. If there is something there, it left me alone when I asked it to. If there is something there, I don’t think it is anything to be afraid of.

For the record, I really do think I was just punchy when I saw the person by the fireplace.

And I really do believe I fell asleep for a fraction of a second, and dreamed that someone pushed me.

Other than the house being old and drafty, I don’t know how to explain the off and on freezing cold (that no one else seems to experience.)

Funny. I just laughed at myself for even typing all this out, when it is late and I need to go to work tomorrow… But I find this fascinating.

So, go ahead and make fun of me in the comments. I’m making fun of myself.

I still don’t really know if I believe in ghosts. But I might give him/her a gender-neutral name and make sure I say “goodnight” next time so I don’t get a shove for ignoring him.

Have you ever experienced anything strange like this?

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Where have I been? I’ve been editing! No Nano for me, again this year.

Lady Waves HiYes, I’ve been lax on the old blogging front.  So sorry.

But I figured I’d stop in real fast to say “Hi!”

.

(Waving madly)

Swish thin

I’ve been working really hard to finish book one in my new series (which I hope to finish on a writer’s retreat coming up really soon.)

Ashes1But currently, and maybe even more exciting, is that I’m in the middle of the final proofread for ASHES IN THE SKY.

Wahoooo!

After this the book will go to formatting, and then it’s one more check in epub, pdf, and mobi format, as well as a check on the print proofs.

Once that is done we are good to go.

So, that’s where I’ve been… working hard to get some more stuff out there for you guys to read. I’ll keep you posted as news pops up.

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Flames longFlames longFlames longFire in the Woods Cover

You can find Fire in the Woods at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

Flames longFlames longFlames long

Alien Lineup

Catch up with me on social media!

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BEING PUBLISHED AS AN UNKNOWN

I’m sure most new authors have scratched their heads over this. All creds to Rabi Illene.

rabbi.author

“If sales were what mattered to me most, I would have written under my own name from the start, and with the greatest fanfare.” – J. K. Rowling on her decision to publish her crime novels under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

When asked why she hid her identity when submitting The Cuckoo’s Calling to publishers, J. K. Rowling, internationally acclaimed author of the Harry Potter series, explained she chose to write under a pseudonym because she was “yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback.”

The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first of the Cormoran Strike dectective series, sold 17,662 copies in the week following the news that it was written by Rowling. Compare that with the 1,500 print copies that were sold in the U.K. during the three months between its publication and…

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Book Signings – Nobody’s there? Isn’t somebody supposed to be there?

This is soooooo darn funny.  I guess it’s something we all have to go through, but it is like your worst nightmare.  So well done.

Hope your days are full of fun times. And if you see an author at a book signing, please stop by and say hi. We won’t bite!

(Well, not all of us, anyway.)

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Flames longFlames longFlames longFire in the Woods Cover

You can find Fire in the Woods at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

Flames longFlames longFlames long

Alien Lineup

Catch up with me on social media!

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Get Your Manuscript Past the Gatekeeper #9: : Pacing and Tension – Too Much or Too Little? Part 1

Get past the gatekeeper

Based on personal experience as a first-reader intern for a literary agency, I’m sharing what can get your manuscript past the gatekeeper (the intern!) and into the hands of the agent.

PACING AND TENSION – TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE? Part 1

Be aware of these areas that can slow down your story – or make it race by too fast – and deflate the tension.

purple hairWatch for creating false tension This is tension built up just for the sake of tension but in doing so a character can waffle. Readers get tired of false tension as they will come to believe then that things introduced are not really a threat

 These are the notes that Donna presented on an actual manuscript that came into the slush pile.

My First Reader Notes: “The main character had conflicting thoughts that created false tension. Like ‘I can’t scale that fence, it’s too tall. Oh wait, I bet I could.’ It’s like crying wolf. ”

TIP: Create immediate tension that is not so easily resolved.

Think you need a prologue? Think again.

Shakespeare closeMy First Reader Notes: “The prologue of the boy’s thoughts about his father dying is not necessary.  It’s too poetic, too abstract, and too introspective with too much backstory trying to give us a foundation. His thoughts here and his people and culture can be woven into the story later. Right now it just slows the story down and kills the tension.”

Backstory

Weave it in. We, the writer can know it all but the readers don’t need to know up front about everything. Readers want teasers. They want to have questions and feel smart for guessing. Throw them into the bowels of the story right away to keep the tension tight. Readers will catch up.

Frog HopHead Hopping:

This pulls you from the story – and slows the story down. A reader must re-adjust their thinking to a new point-of-view instantly. Ask yourself “Whose scene is this?” and write from that.

My First Reader Notes:

PKO_0012884“I am at page 78 and starting to feel like this journey is dragging on. Not too much has happened since it started. The reader hasn’t really learned much more.”

TIP: See what other info can be included up to this point that we find out later. What else can we learn by now to move the story forward? Don’t wait to reveal everything later… reveal some now. Drop it in along the way.

My First Reader Notes:

PKO_0004816“The writer needs to slow down some action scenes and even add an extra day at certain spots. I felt like I was running and couldn’t stop to see all that what was happening. I couldn’t entrench themselves in the richness of the world and story.”

TIP: Sometimes when it comes to pacing and tension we need to slow down scenes.

Now go. Work on making pacing and tension flow with each scene! It may help you get past the gatekeeper.

 

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books), the first two award-winning, bestselling books in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, and the middle grade fantasy adventure series Joshua and The Lightning Road (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at Project Mayhem. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com.

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About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.

Get Your Manuscript Past the Gatekeeper #5:Where’s the Beef? Is your dialog too beefy?

Get past the gatekeeper

Based on personal experience as a first-reader intern for a literary agency, I’m sharing what can get your manuscript past the gatekeeper (the intern!) and into the hands of the agent.

PKO_0008514 SICK GUY Dialog is enough to give most writers a headache, but it’s so stinking important!

How can we make sure our dialog is right on target, Donna?

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Donna’s notes for the agent after reading a submitted manuscript:

“The dialogue feels flat and not necessary to move the story forward or reveal something about the characters. Instead, it’s used as backstory and false world building facilitators, telling readers what the author wants them to know through long passages.”

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How to beef up your dialogue? 

  • Check for long blocks of dialogue and cut up.
  • Read the dialogue aloud to see if stilted or awkward.
  • Use subtext, the lines between dialogue, to reveal characters and their desires or secrets. Often people say the opposite of what they mean and can reveal their true intentions through action and reaction.
  • The dialogue should match the pace of a scene to keep the tension, fast or slow. For example, if characters are on the run they won’t be standing around having lengthy conversations but may be running and speaking in fast, spurts.
  • Incorporate dialogue in creative ways such as through journal entries, character quizzing, or action scenes.

swish skid markAre you writing in the first person? It’s hard to avoid using “I this” or “I that” in first-person narrative but you must find alternate sentence structures to reduce those “I” sentences. It will bring your readers closer to your character.

AN EXAMPLE: Before: “I searched for Charlie in the dark but I couldn’t make out the heads on other bunks.”

After: “In the dark it was hard to make out the heads on the other bunks. Where was Charlie?”

Try this throughout the novel. Your readers will thank you for it.

Too many exclamations in your dialogue? A character that is always hollering is not a fully dimensional character. How else can you write that sentence/scene to convey urgency? You don’t want your main character to be remembered as one who simply yells a lot.

Now go. Work on what your characters say and how they say it! It may help you get past the gatekeeper.

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About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of A Human Element and A Hidden Element (Imajin Books), the first two award-winning, bestselling books in the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy, and the middle grade fantasy adventure series Joshua and The Lightning Road (Month9Books). Donna is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs at Project Mayhem. She lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse. Visit her at www.donnagalanti.com.

 swish skid mark

About Joshua and the Lightning Road:

Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. To get him back, Joshua must travel the Lightning Road to a dark world where stolen human kids are work slaves ruled by the frustrated heirs of the Greek Olympians who come to see Joshua as the hero prophesied to restore their lost powers. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.

Recovering from the storm

Hey guys. For those of you who don’t follow on other social media, my town was hit by a tornado on Tuesday. (they officially called it some other type of new storm. Lucky us. 😂)
Anyway we are fine. No casualties which is the most important thing. We were without power until Saturday and without cable Internet and phones until Sunday. So sorry, I was unable to get Donna’s post in on time. — even this I am entering from my phone. 

I’ll try to get back on a regular schedule next week. 

Score! You guys are going to love this next series of Monday writer’s-help posts!

Wahoooo!

Wahoo! I’m so excited!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting fellow Month9Books author Donna Galanti. While we were chatting, she mentioned that in her past life she was an intern at a literary agent.

My ears perked up. “Really? What did you do there?”

Are you ready for this? She combed the slush pile.

That means if you had submitted to this agent, your manuscript would have to get through HER FIRST before the novel was even seen by the agent.

Wait----What

If you are unaware, this is really, really common. Many agents use interns to weed through the manuscripts and provide feedback on the submissions. These people are the “gatekeepers”. If you don’t make them happy, you are one step closer to a rejection.

So, how do you make sure your manuscript gets through the gatekeeper?

Well, we’re going to show you!

Writing_A_Great_Novel

Donna kept extensive notes on all the manuscripts she reviewed, and over the next few weeks, she is going to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly – and how YOU can keep yourself out of the reject pile.

Posts start next week. This is not to be missed if you are querying!

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