Manuscript Mother’s Day?

Thanks to Grace Bridges for this little exercise:


1) What’s the first line? “On that life-changing day, Sitara and I combed each other’s hair, tried on dozens of outfits, and practiced walking with books on our heads.”

2) Is it your first finished book? No. 6th novel and 7th book.

3) When did you write it? Started November 2015, finished January 2017.

4) Did you plan it out or wing it? I always knew where things were going to end up, but I winged it most of the way.

5) How long did it take to write? About 7 weeks.

6)Binge-written or slow and steady? Written in 2 binges: November 2015, and January 2017.

7) Where did you write it? Sitting in my little alcove in my wingback chair with my laptop on my lap.

8) What program/device did you use? My HP laptop and Scrivener.

9) What was your worst distraction? Real life responsibilities.

10) What did you snack on? Mostly nuts. And many mugs of tea.

11) What did you do when it wanted to drive you crazy? Read back over the bits I liked.

12) How many edits did it go through. Currently going through the first edit.

13) Did you get it published? In my dreams. It’s not ready yet.

14) What’s on the cover/what would you like on the cover? Good question. I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve polar bears and a huge black hawk.

15) What is the genre? YA Fantasy

16) What did you name it? Sohalie’s Search


Looking Back; Looking Forward

Sorry for my lengthy silence—I have been somewhat overwhelmed with health issues and with revising my first novel manuscript, which is what prompted today’s post.

I have now completed six full-length novels (and one memoir). Along the way I have attended over a dozen writers’ conferences and learned a great deal about writing and publishing. Soon after my first writers’ conference, back in 2009, I gave up on trying to sell my first novel and focused on revising my second one and writing more. Although I felt that first book had a very compelling story, I was told that there would be no market for it because it doesn’t fit into any of the pigeon holes (specific genres) that publishers use to sell books.

At the end of January this year, flush with my success in finishing my sixth novel, I had the bright idea of pulling out that first manuscript to see what kind of revisions it might need after lying neglected for eight years.

The experience was both dismaying and encouraging. You see, when I was working on that book and trying to pitch it, people kept giving me advice about how to improve my writing and I thought I was already doing all those things. It was so frustrating. Despite my English degree, I didn’t know enough to know how to make things better.

This time, as I read through, it was as though the scales had fallen from my eyes. I found that I often slipped into omniscient POV, which is mostly frowned on these days. There were hundreds of unnecessary dialog tags and adverbs. The story, I was relieved to see, is still a powerful one (at least in my humble opinion), but it was not ready for the big leagues back in 2009.

I will no doubt go through it several more times using my “triple sifter” approach, but I don’t think I’ll be pitching it any time soon. It is indeed hard to categorize, and my vague plan is to be famous first and then self-publish this book once I already have legions of adoring fans.

So that was the looking back part. The huge benefit for me was the realization that I have indeed improved as a writer in the last eight years, which means that looking forward, I might have a real chance at finally finding an agent and a publisher.

What I’m trying to say is that relentless self-education does pay off. I’ve learned from writers’ conferences, books, and from my wonderful critique partners. I had three short stories published last year and this year I hope to do better. I now feel somewhat confident that I finally have the skills to pull it off.

WIPjoy #31

Okay, I forgot to post this yesterday. Sorry!

Sharing day! Share your premise again so others can remember it.

This is a story about a girl, Sohalie, who tries to eliminate her sister from the competition when she realizes they both love the same man, and he prefers the younger sister. Her temporary action becomes dangerously permanent thanks to circumstances beyond her control, and she must embark on a lengthy and dangerous journey to make things right. Along the way she learns to let go and struggles to forgive herself. She also meets someone new who becomes very important to her.

I recently had fun looking for photos online that are a good representation of my characters. Here is what I imagine Sohalie looking like, although her skin is a little darker–more of a golden brown.


WIPjoy #30

What do you hope touches readers most in this story?

This is a story about betrayal and guilt and forgiveness. I hope that readers internalize the fact that no deed is so terrible that it can’t be forgiven, and that even while you accept forgiveness from others and offer it in return, sometimes you must also forgive yourself. And also, that if it is possible for you to make things right after really messing up, you should attempt to do so.

WIPjoy #29

How long do you expect to be working on this WIP?

Ha ha! I finished it on Tuesday! However, there are still plenty of revisions to do. I will let the manuscript sit for a month or two and then start revisions. I hope to be done sometime in May.

WIPjoy #28

Protagonist Takeover Week: all answers must be in your protagonist’s words

What are you self-conscious about?

Sohalie: I used to be very self-conscious about my image. I wanted everyone to see me at my best. However, once you’ve messed up your life as royally as I have, that particular worry kind of goes away. Now I suppose the thing I’m most self-conscious about it whether or not I’m living up to my husband’s expectations, because I’m still learning about his culture.

WIPjoy #27

Protagonist Takeover Week: all answers must be in your protagonist’s words

Do you sympathize with (or relate to) the antagonist?

Sohalie: It’s pretty hard to sympathize with someone who steals all your possessions, then kidnaps you and throws you in prison, with plans to demand ransom from your family that will ruin them financially. If he wants sympathy, that’s not the way to get it.