The Return of Rae!

Posted on July 13, 2011. Filed under: Editing, Musings, My Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Hello all you people in the blogdom!

I am exhausted, intrigued, excited, and thrilled. And I am home! After a year (more or less) abroad in the wide, wide world of China, I have returned to the wonderful US. It’s been a wild ride, but if you’ve kept up with my other, China-centric blog, you already know that.

After all that time away from home, I’m back and ready to revamp this blog of mine! I will probably be working on a few concepts that have been floating around my brain while participating in all kinds of things to keep me afloat. I have to get a job, of course, which could take longer than I really like to think about, but in the meantime I’ll be keeping up my online activity as well as my writing.

Speaking of writing, what was the first thing I did when I arrived home? Oh, that’s right: I gravitated instantly to the box with my CreateSpace proof copy, courtesy of the NaNoWriMo winner’s page. It arrived long before I did back in the States, and when I opened it up, I got my first taste of just what a book that I wrote could look like.

I would actually recommend purchasing a proof copy of a draft if you are an aspiring writer. It means so much more to have a professionally bound copy of your book with your name on the front in your hands, and it’s given me more motivation to edit and revise the book now that I’ve seen just how awesome it has the potential to be.

Fire & Ice Bound - Cover of my Proof Copy

As you can see, I decided to take a picture of my proof copy with my dog, Harley. Seriously, though, the cover was gorgeous. I will go ahead and admit I probably could not use the cover art if I were to self-publish the book because the amazing artist who designed it (another NaNoWriMo participant) mentioned the artwork potentially being licensed in such a way that I would need to pay for it. However, as this book is just for me at this point, I’m thoroughly enjoying the gorgeous cover.

Title Page of Fire & Ice Bound

I took quite a few photos of this to link to the NaNoWriMo forums, but the point is that seeing my name (or my pen name as the case may be) in print is enough to motivate me towards eventually ironing out all the kinks and making this shape up into a real novel.

The end result of this proof copy is a 333-page book on cream paper with few stylistic designs apart from the chapter font. The lines are spaced at 1.5, and the font is 11-point Times New Roman. It’s a little over 90,000 words long, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed rereading it since I haven’t read it since I finished writing it in February 2010 (written originally for NaNoWriMo 2009).

Random Inside Pages of My Novel

It’s stunning to see my novel in print. Like I said, I sincerely urge you to get a proof copy of your novel printed. With CreateSpace, you do nothing until you approve your proof for sale, which means you never have to approve your proof copy. So in essence, you can finish editing, revising, polishing that proof copy until you get it just right, and then you can start sending it in to agents.

A proof from CreateSpace is actually rather cheap when you get right down to it. Basic shipping will get it to most places in the States within a week of ordering, and I think it’s a definite investment in the future of my writing career to see what I’ve written in book format and really get a chance to read it like I would a novel.

The Back Cover of My Novel

I’ll probably update with a little more about how I’m using this proof copy to edit and revise my novel. I think it might be fun to do a few visual presentations on my editing process, especially if it becomes as “colorful” an experience as I imagine it will.

I thoroughly intend on doing a revision of the novel, printing it out on paper, revising again, doing a sweeping edit of grammar, and finally paying for a second proof copy from CreateSpace that will hopefully be the most polished version of the book.

Until then, there are novels to be written (in August), resumes to revamp (next week), blogs to write (soon and very soon), and other things that have to be finished.

I hope this visual blog post has warmed your little writer hearts and reminded you that I am, in fact, not dead. I will be around more soon, and hopefully we’ll see this blog revamped in the interim.

Looking forward to more posts soon –

– Rae

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Writer Beware

Posted on February 27, 2010. Filed under: Musings, Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Okay, I’ll admit the title of this post is a gratuitous stealing of the title of a blog put together by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as well as the Mystery Writers of America. Of course, the blog isn’t the only thing they do, but it’s what I first saw, so that’s why I write that it’s stealing from the blog.

After my post yesterday, I went back to the same thread from NaNo that I’d been reading and saw a number of my fellow writers were concerned with this girl’s lack of knowledge on the subject of the Christian Manuscript Submission and other companies designed to take your nominal fee (read: almost $100) to offer you a slim chance at publication. Quite a few of the NaNo-ers commented that she needed to be careful not to get taken in by a vanity press and other so-called publishers of the same ilk.

I’ll admit: I have no real idea what a vanity press is. And I’m not even very sure what makes it different from self-publishing sites like Lulu or CreateSpace. Granted, I have no intention of self-publishing. If I ever get published, I want to do it in the traditional way: find an agent, have said agent market my work to publishers, and eventually sign that gleaming contract that speaks of royalties and other odds and ends I still haven’t researched thoroughly.

This is a little pre-emptive considering I wouldn’t even begin to query agents with the manuscript I have now. I don’t want to start the process too early and risk getting a bad deal, obviously, and I honestly want to edit my manuscript a good three or four times before I let some proofreaders come in and rip it to shreds for me.

But I thought I’d write a little about this particular blog and the thread again because I think it’s a good idea. One of the big aspects of NaNoWriMo that I enjoy is the sense of community. I’ve been referred to other writer forums where people have found similar communities to enjoy, but with NaNo, the pressure isn’t as high to edit, get an agent, and get published.

If you do, that’s great! They’ll add you to their list of published authors, and you can throw that out in your forum signature and use the shameless promotions and self-marketing threads to get your name out there. If you don’t get published, that’s fine, too. How many of the people on NaNo are published anyway? Not that many.

I was thinking about it, though, and I’d add a caveat after having read through so many forums. A lot of the people who participate in NaNo have researched the publishing process quite a bit more than I have. I’m new at all this, and I’m piggy-backing off others who have the know how I don’t yet. But I think there’s something anyone on NaNo or other similar forums should be aware of.

Just because someone’s done the research and read the agents’ blogs and fielded massive FAQs from publishers doesn’t mean they’re an expert. Offering advice is a good idea, but there’s something to be said for doing your own research, querying agents on your own, and getting those rejection letters. You get experience doing that, and there’s nothing that can replace good experience in my mind.

Again, I’m not saying I’ve done any of that. I’ve just been reading the forums and surfing the web with an eye to the publishers and agents that I come across. I don’t want to get into vanity publishing, I’m not planning to self-publish, and I don’t have an agent. I barely have a finished manuscript at this point. But it’s going to be self-edited, which is one of the first steps of experience I have to go through. And while I’ll most likely whine and complain about how difficult it is to edit my own writing and how much I like how this or that sounds but know it should be changed, I can appreciate the experience.

This much I’ve learned: being a writer requires putting all your effort into it. If you’re not willing to make the necessary sacrifices, you’re not going to make it.

So eventually I’ll put together the end results of all my work into the form of a manuscript. I’ll bravely search out those agents that might be interested and work through their submission guidelines. I’ll draft and redraft a query (or two) to send out, and I’ll begin saving those rejections I get. I’m not overly optimistic. In fact, technically I’m a pessimist, but I do believe I’ve got talent. And that talent is in writing. It’ll take time to iron out the kinks, get the agent, and secure a contract, and that might not happen till I’m 40, but I want to try for it.

Besides, I go by what my father taught me when I was in high school. In my senior year, I wanted to quit working as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. It was a class all its own, and you were required to sign up for the entire year, and by the end of the first semester, I was ready to do battle with the principal for my right to quit.

My father sat down with me when I was frustrated and angry with my teacher and the rest of the class. I can still remember telling him all my problems, and he listened patiently. It seems silly now, but he knew, and I know now, that the advice he would give would follow me for years to come.

“You can try to get out of the class,” he told me, nodding his head, “but you know it won’t be easy. Or you can stick it out.” I started to argue, and he ignored me. “If you stick it out, you can learn something from this experience.”

“What can I learn?” I asked him. It’s really annoying to admit your parents are right, but it’s always a good lesson to learn.

“You can learn something from every experience you have,” he said. “You just have to look for it. Sometimes you’ll learn how to be, and other times you’ll learn how not to be. This is a good example of how not to be.”

He was right, of course. And I’ve applied his advice to various experiences since then, and it holds true. So in this particular instance, I’m going to hold up his advice, and while I work on editing, when I’m frustrated that a scene isn’t going well, as I talk about plot holes with Desteni and others, I’ll have to remember this piece of advice: I can learn something from every experience.

Anyway, this has turned into a teaching post, which is weird for me. I don’t usually offer up stuff like that. So I apologize if it was boring, but it’s worthwhile advice in my opinion. Anyone else have some good advice for the writer? I’d love to hear what pieces of advice you hold onto as you’re trying to accomplish your goals.


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