Tag Archives: writing projects

Looking forward to 2011… and beyond

I’m probably not the only person who has been reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next one. As I’ve thought about and planned my writing goals for the next year, I’ve been trying to put them in a more big-picture context of a writing career.

My first goal is to finish Doubting River. I should have finished it this year, but I completely overwhelmed myself in the latter half of the year. I backburnered it for a while, and then had trouble getting back on track.

THIS WILL CHANGE.

I know I’m busy, so I’m going to be realistic. Desired word count per day: 500 words. Absolute minimum, must-accomplish-or-else: 250 words. If I do more than 500 words, that’s gravy.

Second goal is to update this blog twice a week. Sunday and Thursday, I think. I’ve been thinking about how to focus the blog in a way that will satisfy my current readership and, hopefully, increase it. The feedback I’ve gotten is that people seem to like the writing-related posts, which is good, because there aren’t enough dog- or farm-related events to warrant regular updates.

My plan, then, is to continue to blog about my novel and the industry, but to focus the bulk of the posts on “A Plotter’s Guide to Novel Writing.” I am a plotter to the extreme, and because I first wrote screenplays, I’m passionate about structure. Those “Just write and see where it takes you!” pantser types will no doubt feel ill at the thought of putting so much planning into your first draft. Keep an open mind though. You might find something helpful for your editing rounds!

Those of you who want to read more about River, Pax, Pflouff, and the rest of the critters, don’t worry! I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve needed more photos and videos on the site. So I think I’ll make a goal of including a dog pic (or video) with each post, plus a short anecdote or update. If you think about it, you’re probably going to get more content than if I targeted the blog around the dogs!

My remaining writing-related goals are dependent upon the completion of goal number one:

Goal #3: Get an agent. I want to attend at least one conference this year — preferably two — and I want to get another partial critique from an agent during Brenda Novak’s charity auction in May. I did that last year, and the agent has requested the full. I will definitely send it to her as soon as it’s complete.

And finally…

Goal #4: Start a new book! I already have the premise. I’ve been anxious to write it for a long time, but I refuse to do so until Doubting River is out on submission.

I’m really looking forward to 2011! What about you? What are your goals?

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An agent called!!

Every year in May, Brenda Novak holds an auction of all things writerly for diabetes research. One of the categories is agent critiques. Agents — probably 100 participate — offer some type of critique service for auction. (The most common, I would guess, is a query, three chapters, and a synopsis but it varies greatly from agent to agent.)

I won an auction for a critique of three chapters and a synopsis from agent Loretta Barrett. I polished up my submission and submitted it. Last week Loretta’s assistant e-mailed me to say they had everything and would be getting back to me this week. On Monday, she e-mailed to say she had Loretta’s dictated notes, and she would type them up and get them to me tomorrow.

Imagine my surprise when I got a call from the 212 this morning!

Long story short, she loved my partial and wants the full when it’s done. That was extremely validating, because she’s the first publishing insider to give me feedback on the pages. She said she liked my style — again, nice to hear. This is my first novel, and I’m the first to say that prose fiction is tough for me. It’s good to hear that I’m going in the right direction though.

She had her assistant send over the comments, but she said that had I not won the auction (and paid for the critique), she wouldn’t give the feedback at this stage. She said she didn’t want me to stop writing and try to address her concerns. I read through the comments, though, and there was really nothing there that concerned me. I’m happy to say that everything she hoped would be fully explained later, is. She had one concern about the opening chapters that I’ve heard before — and worried might be true. So I’ll definitely address that.

Overall, the conversation was extremely positive and left me floating on air!

Now I just wish this work project was over so I could concentrate on the novel instead of working overtime.

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The winning pitch

Here is the pitch for Doubting River that was so favorably received at the conference:

Former runaway, Charm Freeman, returns to his old life in Nowheresville, MS, after his sister Marlie’s husband is killed in a car accident. Initially planning to fulfill his brotherly obligation then disappear for another twenty years, Charm reluctantly agrees to stay and help with Marlie’s injured son. The siblings clash, however, over how to best help the ten year old deal with the death of his father.

Before the accident, the boy and his father were training a neighbor’s retriever for a field trial. The boy desperately wants to fulfill his father’s dream, but his mother believes anything to do with the dog is a setup for heartache. The past belongs in the past; the way forward is forward. Against his sister’s wishes, Charm and the boy join together to turn an injured retriever into a champion, a journey that forces the family to face the issues that tore them apart, only to find salvation in the past they tried to forget.

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Great conference!

Holy cow!! Both an agent and the editor requested FULLS. They both want to read the entire manuscipt!

I don’t know what to say. I’m blown away. Completely blown away.

OH MY GOD, IT’S NOT READY!

Oh well, I wanted a deadline — I guess I got it.

Honey, I need to quit my job. Something more important came up….

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Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’

The 2010 PNWA conference starts tomorrow. I didn’t final in their contest (but I did win the mainstream category of The Sandy), but that’s okay. I got good scores and comments on the novel excerpt. (Less impressed with their screenplay judges.) Contest or no contest, I’m looking forward to the conference. I had a great time last year, and this year my friend Sharon is going with me.

I’ll get to pitch to two agents and an editor while I’m there. I need to work on my pitch, though. So far I’ve never really gotten that *look*, that “oh wow” from it. (Maybe that means my book is crap!!) Hopefully I can improve it, because I really want to make the best of these pitches.

No, the book isn’t finished. It will be soon though, so hopefully that will be okay. I’m just thinking of these pitches as practice pitches… but I wish I’d gotten the manuscript completely finished.

Actually, I’m HOPING to take a trip south in the fall. If I do, I’d love to do a final revision and add some more-authentic southern flavor to this southern novel. I mean, I *am* southern, so it’s not like it’s inauthentic, but I’d still love to add that extra layer of realism.

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