Thursday, August 09, 2007


A few of you have been asking for writing I thought I'd post it up here. I'm still awaiting a verdict on book three....with my editor now. Just because I've sold two books doesn't mean every book from here on out will sell. I'm really, really, really hoping and praying this one does though because it's book three in a seven book series. If it doesn't sell, that'll throw the series into a tailspin and I'll have to do some major changing up.
But here's the deal...I think even if the story needs a significant amount of work...plot or character wise....I think my editors would give me a shot at revision. Revisions are a given anyway. I actually look forward to them because I love the collaboration of my creativity at the hands of my editors who absolutely know the market and the readership of the house they're acquiring for.
They know I'm easy to work with and that I'd paint that novel purple, stuff it in a canning jar and run it to the moon and back if I thought it would sell the book. The only instance I would refuse to revise is if they asked me to add sensuality into the book. Hint: Steeple Hill would never, ever do that. They are a Christian imprint and one of the most conservative publishers in the industry right now.
I'm putting this out there because on a forum I won't mention here, there was quite a disturbing upheaval after a contest I recently judged. A lot of the people were offended and balking at some of the suggestions and comments...which I honestly thought were pretty tame.

Here's the deal...if we want to survive in this industry and have our stories make a difference in the people's hearts...WE HAVE TO BE WILLING TO HEAR HARD THINGS ABOUT OUR WRITING.

I am one of the most sensitive people I know, but let me tell you...I've come to the place with my fiction where I CRAVE brutal honesty. Does this mean I've grown a tough skin? Yes. No. Maybe. I've tried, but I'm not sure how one grows a tough skin other than tying oneself to a NASCAR bumper and being dragged around the track twenty times. And yes, sometimes revisions and rejection feels like that kind of raw pain. LOL!

I try to trust that the person on the other end of the critiques are generally, for the most part trying to help me and help my ailing story. We cannot see shortcomings in our own writing. For some reason, when it comes to our own work...we have blinders on. At least I do.
So right now, I'm waiting patiently...not bugging my editor even though I'm dying to know what she thinks of Chance's story. You have to understand they're not just sitting around twiddling their thumbs and playing Spider Solitaire while your story is rotting on their desk with a thousand others. Until I contracted, I had NO clue how very, very much work goes into one novel. It's a process of about one to two years to make a book ready to sit on the shelf at Barnes and Noble or wherever books are sold.
So what do we do while waiting? I personally dive into another story. In the little over two months since I sent my story in....I've written the first three chapters to two other stories as well as ripped all the suspense out of book four of the PJ series. I've plotted the rest of the entire series and written two opening scenes of the last two books.

The best thing to do while you wait on one submission is...don't wait. KEEP WRITING. Getting your mind and heart on and into new characters and a fresh plot will keep you from being anxious about the manuscript or proposal you have under consideration.
I know once I contract my next book (speaking in faith here! LOL!), I'll be immediately thrust into revisions for it, so I want to be able to have another book ready to send as soon as those revisions are accepted. So I'm trying to have that ready so it won't be so hard to switch gears from one story to the next. I am NOT good at multitasking...but I manage. So what I'm working on now is proposals for the last four books in the Wings of Refuge series. I will let you all know when I hear about book three. With the launch of the historical line coming up, and the increase of the suspense line, I know my editor is swamped. I'm hoping and praying my story will be worth the wait for her. So another thing I'm doing while I wait is pray for her and for all of the editors and employees of my publishing house.

I'd appreciate prayers that every book I write is cleaner (grammar, punctuation, etc) wise than the last. I am a terrible proofreader by computer. This is why I print a hard copy (paper) of the manuscript and attack it with a red pen, or some other color that stands out from black. Then I go through and make changes and corrections on the manuscript. This is after I've proofread it a gazillion times, set it aside for a period of weeks, then poofread (snicker) it another gazillion times. Then, because I want to turn in the best work I can, I invest in editing services such as Robin Miller's Critique Boutique, and Camy Tang's Story Sensei. They are so valuable to me because, not only do they improve that current story, but things I learn from their line edits and structural critiques can be applied to future works. Their links are to the right.

Another thing I'm working on now is studying up on grammar. I'm trying to go through the Chicago Manual of Style and memorize something new every week. So constantly striving to improve my writing and my craft is very important to me and another thing I'm working on now. I feel God has given me a gift of writing, and I need to be a good steward of that gift by studying and polishing and learning to execute my gift as responsibly as possible. Part of that encompasses striving to get a better handle on grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, etc.

Cheryl Wyatt   Gal. 2:20   Pouring my vial of words over Him.

A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008
A SOLDIER'S FAMILY~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Mar. 2008


Shirlee McCoy said...

Good post, Squirrel.

I couldn't agree more. And I have the same exact problem with grammar. And spelling. Then there's my pacing problems. Sigh.

God's got His plan, though, for our writing. Thankfully, He puts the right people in our lives to help us on our way.

Robin Caroll said...

Well, I'm believing in faith with you, girl! You'd better call me when you get the contract offer! :D

Hope Chastain said...

I've started a list of commonly mistaken words on my website, , and I hope to add grammar to that soon. Mom majored in English back when that meant something, and she's been a big help to me!

You better believe we're praying for Chance's story to be accepted!

ScrollSquirrel said...

Thanks, Shirlee! YOU ROCK!



ScrollSquirrel said...

Awww! Thanks so much, Robin! I need all the prayer I can get. LOL!

And CONGRATS on your new contract! It was so, so fun being on the phone with you the other day when you got your debut novel shipped to your door.

I will never forget the sound of pure awe and the nearly-in-tears-of-wonder-squeaks coming out of your mouth. Very touching and I felt like I was there. I consider it a blessing that God let me be on the phone with you when they arrived. SO COOL!


ScrollSquirrel said...

Hope, I'll definitely be visiting your site for grammer...errrr...I mean grammar help. LOL!