Tag Archives: deadline

Longest. Edit. Ever. The tediousness of overused words.

I usually edit out overused words last, but since a few beta readers pointed some out… I started fixing, and then the overused words snowballed.

I always have overused words. I think all authors do… but the quantity of words, sometimes appearing five times on the same page, astounded me.

Was it the speed I was writing? The lack of read-throughs before going to beta? (I usually read my manuscript five to ten times before going to beta)

I’m not sure, but I’m definitely not happy. What a terrible, tedious week.

Repeated words might not seem like a big deal, but they ruin the flow of a novel. They stand out, and can pull the reader from your story and remind them they are “only reading”.

Shame on me

That is NOT what I ever want to do to my readers. It is my job to help them escape for a little while. If they are reminded it is “just a book” then shame on me.

That’s why I took an entire week to tackle this before submitting to my editor. The only problem is that another beta pointed out a portion that would be more intense if I made one small point in the story a touch harder on my characters… and I agree.

So that leaves me with two weeks left to do another developmental edit/rewrite on the beginning of the story, and finish the re-write of the ending that I inadvertently started while getting rid of the repeated words in the last two paragraphs. PLUS do a complete final read-through start to finish.

Two weeks until the deadline?

Arghhh! PictureNo, this is not where I would like to be so close to the novel being due… Especially since ASHES IN THE SKY went up on Goodreads this weekend, and  I was supposed to start EMBERS IN THE SEA last Wednesday.

Tons, tons, tons of pressure… But I WILL get this manuscript in on time.

And I will try my best NOT to make sleep optional.

What words have you seen overused in novels?


Sometimes life just gets in the way.

I admit I am mildly psychotic. I give myself goals, and once I see them on paper, they might as well be chiseled in stone.

I hit them.


No matter what.

It’s something that was driven into me since I was very young. I thank my father for this most of the time. Being driven has helped me get to where I am today.

But I have trouble dealing sometimes when I realize what I challenge myself with is sometimes too much.

PKO_0008514 SICK GUYLike this week, when I was thrown a little curve ball.

I got sick.

Really dern sick.

Flat out in bed, can’t move, stricken-with-a-chill sick. Then sweating-to-death can’t- turn-down-the-temperature sick. Horrible… zig zagging back and forth.

Yep, I even looked like a guy.

It’s terrible to have to take off from work, waste vacation time, and get NOTHING DONE.

Arghhh! Picture

It drove me crazy, laying there under piles of blankets, sometimes with a fifty-pound poodle on top of me for extra warmth… doing nothing when there is piles of work to be done in real life, as well as my writing world.

I couldn’t even THINK of my scenes. I couldn’t formulate a plan for when I could get out of bed. My mind was dead. Caput.

My poodle all fifty pounds of her. Isn't she cute?

My poodle – all fifty pounds of her. Isn’t she cute?

What a terrible couple of days.

I’m better now, thank goodness. But now I have to take stock.

First things first.

I just completed my immediate need: The interviews/blog posts requested by wonderful people who signed up with my marketing company to help promote FIRE IN THE WOODS.

Whew… That was a lot of work.

Today, I do something I have not done in a VERY long time.

I set the writing aside.

No aliens. No space ships. No conflicts (except a few real life kids)

The book will be there tomorrow, and I know the first thing I am going to do is look at my goal sheet (yes, I have one, with word counts for each day.)

I will see that I am now a month behind, with a deadline looming.

I will not panic. (You hear that? I WILL NOT PANIC)

Life happens. Vacations are needed. Current books need to be marketed. And hey, there’s not much you can do about getting sick.

Tomorrow I re-align my goals, and I suppose I should start lining up beta readers, because if I do manage to hit my publisher’s deadline, it is going to be close.

Deep breath. This can be done.

How do you dig out of a hole when you realize you’ve fallen far behind?


Editing Under Pressure. Yes, It can be done #1

My first round edits came back for FIRE IN THE WOODS, which has been contracted with a three-month deadline to publication.  I took a deep breath, knowing that the completed edits were due back in FIVE DAYS.


I was pretty surprised, though.  This is the content edit phase, and they asked for very few changes.  In one spot, they thought the father should have reacted more quickly.  I fixed this simply by editing the dialog a smidge.

The next thing they said, which made me sweat a little, was that they didn’t buy the reason why my MC was afraid of another character. So I thought this over, and realized they were right when they said it felt like a forced conflict.  I really hadn’t developed that secondary character at all. He was too flat, and had no history.


So I thought over why she might be afraid of him, and gave him a 100 word history based on a strategically placed inner thought/flashback.  I have to admit, this little change really gave both the MC and the secondary character depth.

Another thing I had to fix was a product of the multiple revisions this manuscript has seen over time.  Jess comes to a conclusion about “what’s going on” with no reason for it.  After thinking it over, she had a very good reason to come to this conclusion. The problem was, I never let the reader in as to HOW she came to this conclusion.  Again, an easy fix with a simple inner thought right before she comes to that little epiphany that drives the story onward.

The other changes were simple. A missing word here or there.

Then I hit the OMG part. And I will admit, this was totally MY DOING. In the spirit of always keeping my posts short, I’ll tell you all about it in my next segment. This is something I usually check for. I don’t even know how I missed it.


Writing to a Deadline Part 1: “I got Nothing.”

For the first time since college, I am writing to a deadline.  A publisher’s deadline.  Have I sold my work?  No.  A publisher has opened for submissions in a short window, and I figured, “Why not give it a try?”

The publisher is putting out an anthology.  They have one short story from a published author, and they are looking for more to compliment it.

Here’s the catch.  There’s a writing prompt.  It has to be a story about a particular picture, which I imagine will be the book’s cover… and it has to be a happy ending.

Ugh.  Why couldn’t it be a picture of planets or spaceships with explosions galore?  That I could handle.  This?  My enthusiasm drained as I stared at the interesting piece of artwork.

A vague idea of a story sparked in my head, but it led to death and mayhem—  Definitely not a happy ending.  The picture just didn’t do anything to grip me emotionally.

Wait!—is that a spaceship up there in the top left corner?
Is it? Ugh. No, it’s not. Shoot!

I stared at the picture for a few days in a row.  I read other’s comments.  They were all excited. (At least they said they were)  But I still “got nothing”.  I closed down the Web-site and forgot about it.  I would have to pass on this opportunity.

It made me think about a fourth grade parent-teacher conference I had a year ago.  We were talking about creative writing, and she commented that my son wrote really well when it was something he was interested in.  When he got odd topics from her writing prompts, he didn’t seem to engage himself in the writing.  She thought this was a problem.

As a writer, I wanted to smack her upside the head.  Okay, yeah, as a student you need to write stupid book reports- about stupid people- who you don’t care about- and will never, ever remember again after you hand the paper in.

But creative writing?  If the kid wants to write about Spiderman, or spies, or original super heroes saving the world… and they are THAT good…  Stinking LET HIM DO IT.  (I have to admit, for a ten year old… his stories totally rocked.  Lots of excitement and explosions… the leaves don’t fall far from the trees)

Anyway, he and I had to work on his ability to make his teacher believe he wanted to write about a boring little puppy playing ball with a stupid little girl (I resisted the urge to point out that she could get kidnapped, and a super hero could come and save her life… with lots of action and explosions.)

He wrote the boring story.  It was okay.
He got a decent grade… on to the next one.

It made me think.  I used to be a master at this.  Give my ANYTHING in school.  Give me the prompt… be it creative writing, an essay, or a book report.  I could write my way out of anything.  Could I still do that? Could I find a story in that picture that didn’t spark a single bit of creativity in my heart?

Stay tuned.