Monday 29 October 2012

Intruding Characters

Who is this character and why is she showing up in the middle of my story? Did you ever have this happen?

I'm in the process of writing the third book of The Pen Pieyu Adventures series. I have a few new characters that compel the story forward, and those characters are behaving quite well.

Then, as I'm writing away, minding my own writer's business, along comes an intruder. The unscheduled Bablelyn comes waltzing into the forest, right in the middle of a great mud-slinging fight scene I have planned between Petra and Snarls against the Leafmen in the land of The Boogie Goobees.

 Bablelyn is, apparently, Sir Princess Petra's cousin. And you guessed it, she never shuts up.

I am trying to point out to Bablelyn that she is not a planned character nor is she in the outline of book three.  She doesn't seem concerned with my petty author problems, she just insists she has every right to be here and to show up now, in book three.

I've never had this happen before.

Day by day, Bablelyn is becoming a stronger and more outspoken character in my mind and she's upsetting my writing process, even as I try to ignore her, by her constant pestering. Right now, she reminds me of an itchy mosquito bite that I have to keep scratching.

So Babelyn babbles on and on trying to convince me she is an important character. She is Petra's cousin from a far away land that I haven't even heard of. Babelyn is proving to be the exact opposite of Petra. Where Petra is kind, understand, and accepting of others, Babelyn is self-centered,  nearly rude, and most definitely annoying.

So now what?

Reasoning with Babelyn has not worked. Ignoring her just makes her stronger. I've even tried explaining to her that her kingdom is not on the map that is in this series. Her response---make the map bigger.

Finally, I resolve to quit writing my "planned" story and start writing down facts and characteristics about Babelyn, hoping that this may quiet her down or just calm her ego enough that she may leave.

For the most part, before I start writing the next book in the series, all my characters, scenes, and plotting are planned out. Some of this information is written down in my "character diaries" book, and a lot of the plotting is stored in my head, like movie scenes I keep replaying.

Regardless of the way I create the story, I've never had an unscheduled character intrude on my stories before. It is kind of unsettling. I thought I knew everything there was to know about this new story.

So, as this new and strong character intrudes on my story, and it appears she will not take "no" for an answer, I must consider what part she could possibly play in the story line.

And why, pray tell, did she show up in the important mud-slinging scene with the Leafmen?

Well . . .Babelyn is definitely an interesting character. She might rile things up a bit.

Humm . . .

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And my other writer's blog, One Girl Writes, at:

Monday 22 October 2012

The Editor

Writing something interesting is a hard job. Writing something interesting with perfect punctuation, grammar and spelling is even tougher. Writing something interesting with perfect punctuation, grammar and spelling  that will be accepted by a publisher . . . well, that takes a lot more effort.

So, you've done your best work, you've been submitting your work, you get a bite, and eventually a contract.

And just when you think that all the hard work was in the creating, plotting, writing, checking grammar, etc., and re-writing some more---you're wrong.

Once you have a contract signed for your work, you will be assigned an editor.

The editor picks out punctuation and spelling errors easily, but their biggest job is helping the writer create the best story possible. And I, for one, really appreciate the editor.

I've just been through the ropes of editing book 2 , Sir Princess Petra's Talent - The Pen Pieyu Adventures, to be pre-released January, 2013. It was grueling.

The editor is not a scary person, but an editor has eagle-eagle-eagle eyes, and can spot not only the mistakes in sentence structure, but holes in the plotting. This is where the writer has to work harder still.

When a writer gets too close to their story, the writer knows all the little details in their head, and it's easy to forget to put in that tiny little detail "A" that has something to do with why or how detail "B" is in the story.

I've only been through the editing process twice, but it was more or less the same both times. I thought the plot was organized, clear and well thought out. And for the most part it was. But then eagle-eagle-eagle eyes asks the question,"what does this have to do with anything?"

Good question! I'm dumbfounded. I thought the story was all so perfectly clear.

Well, it's back to the drawing board to wiggle in those little detail so it does become clear. And knowing where to wiggle in those details takes a lot of thought.

The editor will never tell you how to fix a particular sentence structure problem or plotting problem. They will only tell you where they see the problem---the writer has to come up with the solutions.

I have a love/hate relationship with editing. It's hard work, brain cramping work, but I know in the long run it will make the story so much better.

The editing of book 2 took many hours over many weeks with lots of email back and forth to the editor. But slowly and surely, the little details finally did all came together.

Once I had the plot details in order, my editor was very happy with the re-write and the optimizing of some sentence structure. But I thought it could be better. I started going through every sentence, every word, every feeling to make sure it sounded just right. I think a writer could do this until their brain explodes, but there does come a moment, after pounding your head against the desk for a few days, when you write the word, the sentence, the feeling yet again and know that now, it is absolutely perfect..

So no mistake about it, editing a manuscript is hard work. But now that it's done,  I know the book is better for it.

I'm very thankful to have expert editors with my publishing house. I had a different editor for each book, and each editor was extremely helpful in making the books the best they could. be.

I believe strongly that the more hard work a writer puts into the story, the more the reader will get out of it.

Please come by and visit my other blog, One Girl Writes, at:

Sunday 7 October 2012

Guest Post by Kids Lit Reviews

Diane has asked me why I like to review books, what I don't like about reviewing, and a little about the authors I have meet and the books I have read.

For starters, I have been reviewing books for several years. I started when my mentor, Jill Rubacala, told me in order to write well, I needed to read as many books (at least 100), in the genre I wanted to write. So I did, and then wrote a review placing it on numerous sites across the web. One day, a spark went off. It was not fireworks, but a neuron in my head. This spark told me it was silly for me to give my words away. I needed my own review site. Kid Lit Reviews went live nearly two years ago.

But that is not why I like to review books, but how it all became formalized. I like to review books for several reasons.

              1.  ARCs. Reading a book before it's published is simply cool.

2     2.   Free Books. Who doesn't like a free book? Soon my shelves were bulging with kids books. Instead of getting more shelf, I decided to give the local library the books—which they are thrilled to get.

3       3..  People. I get to meet other bloggers (YEAH!), publishing company people (YES‼), and authors (THE BEST!).

        4.  I stay busy doing something I enjoy (writing), about something I love (books).

What I don't like about reviewing is the person who either does not read the submission guidelines or who has, but does not follow what is needed. This happens not only with authors, but also with PR Firms. Publishers are actually the best about this.

The other thing I am not thrilled with is the new trend in self-publishing, which is to make your own "publishing company" to "publish" your book. If the company only published that one book or only that one author's books, it is not a publisher. I feel like the author is trying to fool readers into thinking their book is printed by a legit publisher and/or trying to hide the self-published part of their journey. The stigma is all but gone, so own your work—with your own name not a vanity publisher.

I have met some terrific authors and a couple of not so terrific ones. I like the terrific authors better. Most authors are generous, and non-demanding. One author and illustrator were so happy with the review, they sent a print from their book and a signed copy. The print is awesome. It is above my desk where I can see it each day for inspiration. I do not expect a gift or a donation for a good review, but it was a nice surprise to receive that print. Other authors have been generous with their talent, answering my questions about writing and publishing, which had nothing to do with reading or reviewing their book, yet they took the time to answer. The not so terrific authors, reps, publishers? I will just leave at that, "not so terrific."

The one thing I do not like about reviewing is the uncertainty that anyone is reading what I have written. The same quandary writers go through. They mark their success in terms of books sold. As a reviewer, I mark my success in two ways, the number of comments each posts receives and the ease of receiving books from publishers. For me, the latter is easier, and I do not know why.

I think reviewers and writers are in this together. A reviewer should want to help that author as much as possible. I am not saying over-glorify a book that was anything but glorious, but to treat each book with respect and kindness. Remember it is the book being reviewed, not the author.

Authors can help reviewers by following any submission guidelines they might have, respond to questions and needs quickly, and remember, negative reviews and comments are going to happen, but good or bad, respond with style.  Not everyone will like your book, let's just hope most do. 

The other thing I  would love to see is the author commenting on the review, and responding to comments. People love to make contact with authors and this small short-time consuming act will increase your popularity, positive word-of-mouth, and book sales.

Sue Morris, Kid Lit Reviews

For the review I did of Diane's book, Sir Princess Petra:

Kid Lit Reviews

Books for Children