I know folks are gearing up for Sunday’s Super Bowl. I'm no sports fan, except that I always root for the underdog.
After a month of painful (only because of deadline stress) rewrites and edits, I decided to throw my new novel into the pot for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, and got tremendous help from some past winners in the CreateSpace (Amazon’s contest management site) on sifting down my pitch to a very tight few sentences. There are community pages there with offers to assist in steps along the way. Several authors and editors helped me with my preview and samples. I am amazed at how generous they were with their time. My final version was saved to the site just 30 seconds prior to the deadline (they lock all entries at the 5000 entry point). After reading so much about “you have one in 100,000 chance of getting your novel published” (or one in a million, or whatever), I thought 1 in 5000 was much better odds. And even if you become a quarter finalist you receive a book offer. Some folks say, yeah but it's only for ebook deals. And I'm such a diehard hardback fan. We’ll see how it goes.
I also wanted to remind you of the AWP call for submissions – I’m sending off a ms this weekend, here’s their site: AWP. Richard Bausch encouraged me to send one of my manuscripts to them last year, and I did so. But nothing. I’ll try again this year – deadline is Feb. 28th. Hope is a thing with feathers . . .
And, Susan Cushman suggested I try small presses like Algonquin so I did get a ms off to them yesterday as well.
Writing is a full time job. I’m plotting how to retire early and still survive. So far I can’t figure out how to succeed. ;-)
Some have likened to working on a story to the feeling that the words have hold on every hair of your body. Sometimes when I've completed a piece I feel as if I've had all my body hair removed. Or given birth. And then I sleep. The following is from the blog Novel Matters:
I’ve worked on a step-by-step list of how to write a novel. Perhaps you might find it useful.
Please choose one of the following options:
a) Give birth multiple times. (You may also choose to give birth to multiples. Triplets work well)
b) Have all of your body hair waxed off in one afternoon. (It is preferable that you have this preformed by a person who does not speak your language) Repeat weekly for one year.
(This step ensures you have vast experience with pain, AND attempting to reason with characters who are indifferent to your needs.)
Commit acts of Random Bizarre Behavior (RBBs) in public places. Record people’s reactions to your behavior in a purple notebook.
Examples of possible RBBs:
- Enter a crowded elevator and begin singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic at the top of your lungs. Be sure to flail your arms around, especially during the chorus. Interrupt yourself often by asking others in the elevator to give you more room.
- Enter a busy shopping mall. Shake hands with everyone you see and thank them for their excellent customer service.
- Approach a female stranger. Address this stranger as “Aunt Bea”. Demand to see pictures of the new baby.
- If you are approached by a police officer: calmly and patiently explain that you voted for ‘the other guy’. If this fails, claim you are Canadian and don’t know better (this only works if you are in the US).
(This step exposes you to the full range of natural, spontaneous human reactions and emotions needed to create believable characters.)
Invent a perpetual motion machine. Give it a catchy name. Then, hide it in a closet for at least one year. After the appropriate amount of time has past, take the machine out of the closet, tinker with it until it moves at double the speed.
(This step ensures you are able to do the impossible – at least twice.)
Knock on a stranger’s door. Tell the stranger you are the love child they gave up for adoption. Mention you are unemployed. Repeat this several times until you are numb to all rejection.
(This step ensures – well, you know what it ensures.)
Take all of these experiences and divide them into chapters. Give it a plot and a catchy name. If possible, include vampires.
It’s possible to be on more than one step at the same time. So, which step are you on? Do share!