I Solemnly Swear

I hate it when the dog dies in a book. I’m pretty sure I’m still traumatized from all those blasted children’s classics because the dogs kept dying.

I mean, why kill the dog???

Secondary characters? Sure kill ’em off, that’s what they’re for, right? BUT DON’T KILL THE DOG.

One day I will be published and to my future fan base I make this promise: I solemnly swear to never kill the dog.

Come on writers, take the oath with me!

 Our corgi says, ‘Take the oath!”

*This post prompted by reading one too many books where the cruel author made me cry for a dog that didn’t even exist in the first place.*

Dragon Trainer Jacket Part 2

Inserted a zipper, gave it a pocket with zipper closure (only one right now, I should probably add a pocket to the other side but I really Hate sewing pockets, so we’ll see if I can live with one pocket)

And my patch came in, it’s bigger than I expected, it look *fabulous*

Dragon Rider patch

Dragon Rider patch

 

Full shot.

Full shot.

 And I’ve been fussing with the embroidery, straightening some of the letters and finishing the G and O. Some of the stitching did pucker the fabric a bit, I guess I should have used thicker interfacing. Of course the exact day after I did all the embroidery some one gave me a pile of that tear-away embroidery interfacing. Typical.  But, oh well, I’m still really pleased with how it came out. I added a thin yellow-gold border around the each letter, it really makes the red pop out better.

Updated embroidery.

Updated embroidery.

 it’s lying on my bed here so it looks really lumpy. I’m still considering adding a border around the entire thing to make it look ‘patchier’ I just can’t make up my mind how I want to do it or what I want it to look like. Wouldn’t flaming celtic knots look cool? Yeah, that’s a little above what my machine and I can do. Clearly I need to invest in a proper embroidery sewing machine soon.

The Gray Lady page is updated, go check out my progress! —>

The Massacre of Excessive Words

When I first finished my current manuscript it weighed in at a whopping 127,000 words.

Uh huh, imagine an agent’s face if THAT had popped into their in-box.

Of course, we all know that an unpublished writer is not going to get a book that big published without the help of several miracles and, since miracles seem to be in short supply around here,  the only thing to do is edit the snot of it.

At first it seems utterly impossible,  when you’re looking at your newly completed masterpiece you KNOW that every single word is completely vital to the story, ‘It’s perfect, why should I ruin it?’

Sit back, take a breath, and wait for reality to hit you in the jaw. There, did it hurt? Because it will soon. Yes, there is a masterpiece in their somewhere, but at the moment it’s lost in that trash heap of words. Beginners don’t want to hear this, I certainly didn’t (for the record, I still consider myself a beginner but at least I know the rules of the game now), and all that editing is a pretty daunting task. Then you dive in and start slicing and dicing, you’ve removed irrelevant scenes but your word count is still way too high, what now?

I’m going to share some of the tricks I’ve learned in the hopes of helping other people who are struggling to clean up their novel and cut down that pesky, all-important word count.

REDUNDANCY

‘… She thought silently.’  Well, duh, that is how most people think. Sure she could be speaking her thoughts out loud but in full context it’s obvious she’s not, I don’t need to say this,  the reader has already figured it out.

Yawned tiredly, said out loud … you get the picture. Ditch those redundant words!

S/HE SAID _____LY

“I don’t like editing!” She exclaimed loudly.

“I know, but it really is necessary,” he said soothingly.

“I’d rather shovel manure then change one more sentence,” she muttered darkly.

It sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? Sometimes you really just don’t need those extra adjectives, if we are doing our jobs as writers properly then the reader should be able to pick up on the characters’ emotions without us telling them so bluntly.  By no means am I saying get rid of every case of this but I bet once you start looking you’ll realize you may have overused this sort of phrase, I did! 

HE SAID/SHE SAID

While we’re on that subject do you really need to add that after every bit of conversation? If it’s just two characters then the reader already knows who’s talking. if you can do without it here and there then ditch it! (Be careful though, there’s nothing more annoying for a reader than losing track of who says what and having to go back and read again)

REPEATED NAMES

“Did you like the movie Helen?”

“I did Jack, what shall we do now?”

“Well, Helen, we should probably get back to editing.”

“No, Jack, anything but that!”

People don’t actually speak like that, thank goodness because I would be in real trouble when I tried to remember names. It’s annoying to read but it’s pretty easy to fall into this habit while writing.  DITCH ‘EM.

ELLIPSIS …

 Did you know that every time you use ellipsis it adds three words to your word count? Or at least it does on my word program, I suppose it could vary on others but still, why risk it? They can be really annoying when over used anyway. Sure they’re handy when a character trails off into la la land … what was I saying? Oh, right, I guarantee that you can get rid of at least 90% of those ellipses and your writing will be better off for it.

Following these guidelines have helped me clean up my writing and knock my word count down (but is it low enough? We’ll see) and I hope they’ll be helpful to others. And when you’re feeling overwhelmed just remember;

Totally true!

 

Dragon Trainer Jacket

On Friday we had a severe thunderstorm and it succeeded in knocking out our internet connection for the entire weekend. In this day and age a weekend without internet is catastrophic to most people but it really doesn’t bother me. I got a ton of writing done and completed a spur of the moment sewing project. I was regarding the piles of fabric waiting to be sewn into costumes for October when I remembered this length of dark gray denim in my stash. And …well, one thing led to another and this happened.

 
008Not 100% done yet, I still need a zipper and a few things probably need tweaking/adjusting, but close enough for the moment.
 
 
010 
 
   006The other month I bought the How To Train Your Dragon 2 Zinepak from Walmart. It included the CD, a 64 page booklet, a poster, and this fabulous night fury patch. (All of this for ten bucks, SCORE!) Obviously, I needed something suitably awesome to put it on.
 
012The back of the jacket. I did all the embroidery with a simple satin stitch on my little Singer. My poor sewing machine will probably never forgive me for the hours and hours of satin stitching but doesn’t it look great???
 
013 The camera really washes out the colors, the denim is a charcoal gray and the embroidery is dark red with some black.
 
Asides from the embroidery I’m thrilled with how the jacket itself came out, I’ve finally learned how to sew a jacket properly. I didn’t use any pattern, I just draped and cut how I wanted it. It took me two days, one day to construct the jacket from scratch and the second to embroider the back. I intend to add more patches or embroidery eventually, I just have to wait for the proper inspiration to hit me. I do know that I’m getting this though.
 Maybe on the left lapel or on a sleeve?
 
Just to make it clear, this is not a costume (though it could be included in some sort of contemporary dragon trainer outfit; gloves, boots, lots of belts with weapons hanging all over, it would be a good outfit for one of those Halloween events where you’re not sure if costumes are allowed or not) this is something I will wear frequently when the weather gets cooler (I freeze at about sixty degrees so this will probably get a lot of use).
I got some work done on my Grey Lady as well so I’ll be updating that page soon. It’s been a long time since I was that productive, I should knock our internet out more often!
 

This and That

First thing, you may notice a new page over this aways —> I’m going to keep a dress diary on my Halloween gown (or at least, it will probably be my Halloween gown, sometimes my mind changes last minute so who knows, but either way an awesome dress is happening so check it out).

There hasn’t been that much sewing going on in the last week, I help teach a week long dance camp every summer and, after six hours of fifteen or so kids doing hardshoe drills in a small room, the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was lie down with an ice pack on my head. My writing didn’t suffer as badly as I thought it would, I got a couple of queries sent out, my synopsis is mostly rewritten (just need to force myself to proofread it once more) and I even found a half hour to do some real writing before I had to leave in the mornings. 

     I have to admit, teaching kids is not something I really enjoy, but teaching at the camp is a great experience and it also helps me hone my techniques.

Turn out.JPG
(Photo credits to Marie Marzi) 

Next, for those of you who are struggling with querying your novel, here’s an author who offers to critique your query, your synopsis and the first ten pages of your book for $25 http://metteivieharrison.com/ her specialties are YA SF/F. The only thing is there is no information on how to submit your work, maybe y’all will have better luck finding it.

Is anyone else watching the BBCA show The Musketeers? My whole family is loving it, it’s the perfect mix of humor, sword fighting, and hot guys in leather (or ladies in low stays if that’s your preference).

the-musketeers-series-1-(5) Asides from all that awesome leather, the costumes (while some are pretty) are mostly a motley array of inaccuracies but since I’m enjoying the show I’m trying not to let it bother me. If you like fun adventure/drama then I would highly recommend the show to you.

On the same note, I tried watching the pirate drama Crossbones … Yawn.

Just keep querying, just keep querying …

. . . What do we do? We QUERY!

I know you sang that.

I’ve completed another round of gruesome editing, not only is my manuscript flawlessly perfect (Shh! Just let me revel in the moment), but I also managed to knock the word count down a bit more! *does happy treble reel*

With my manuscript all sparkly and ready to impress I decided to punch up my query a little to match. After a long hard look I managed to give it a little less fat and a little more muscle and all in all I’m feeling very confident and ready to start again. Just as soon as I rewrite my synopsis to reflect the changes in my manuscript.

Wait … I have to rewrite my synopsis.

Good feelings gone.