Borrowed Magic Giveaway!

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So, Siege has been out fora week now, and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped make it a success. It’s still in the top 20 on two of Amazon’s free lists and in the top 100 on three others!  If you still haven’t downloaded it, click on the “Where to Buy” tab at the top of the page and it will link you to all the places it’s available.  And it’s FREE (except for Amazon international, which still hasn’t price matched it yet.  But it’s only $.99 or the international equivalent)! And remember Borrowed Magic comes out a week from today!!!!

Also, I wanted to announced two things.

First, as soon as Siege gets 20 honest (yes, be honest) reviews on Amazon, I’ll post the entire first chapter of Borrowed Magic on my website (right now it’s just the first 3 pages). Because I know you all want to see Philip! (If you cross post the review on Goodreads, then I will love you!)

Second, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of 3 paperback copies of Borrowed Magic! It’s open for entries until January 31, 2016. Here’s a link to my website where the Goodreads widget right at the top of the page will take you right where you need to go to enter: http://www.sharilamertbooks.com.

Thanks again!!!

Why you still have to cut your favorite parts…

So, I’m revising part of my latest book.  I’m trying to delve deeper into the characters and their world without giving a bunch of backstory or too many details.  I don’t want it to get boring.  I don’t want to lose my readers. 

However, in that process, I have to cut passages I LOVE.  This go around, one in particular is causing me grief.  And yet, it doesn’t feel right where it is.  The story flows better without it.  Although, I’m still trying to find somewhere to put it.  We’ll see…

Anyway, I loved this particular passage so much I thought it needed to be printed somewhere, so here it is for your reading pleasure — or not.  🙂

“Only a hardness around his eyes and an edge to his voice gave any indication to the depth of Philip’s emotion.  Maren felt a chill pierce her.  She wasn’t sure what scared her most:  the intensity of the hatred she sensed from Philip, or the other feelings she knew he’d buried beneath his too-calm exterior.”

This is just cool…

Wordle: EthanSo, I was reading a blog post over at Addicted to Books and I came across this awesome tool.  It’s a site that allows you to go in and enter your ms and then it makes this word cloud for you.  The bigger the word, the more it’s used.  Obviously, I have an MC.  Anyway, the other thing it does is to give you a list of every single word and how many times you used it.  I glanced through the entire list and was pleasantly surprised.  Any word that I’d really used a lot was “a” or “and” or something like that.  After all the editing I did to cut overused words, that made me happy (not that there aren’t a few words I could still cut — as a beta recently pointed out).

Another tip Angie had in that same post was to highlight all the “-ly” in the entire manuscript.  Then you can see if there are too many adverbs.  Now, this does include a lot of words like family and only and stuff, but it does work for the adverbs too.  What a great idea for editing.  She has a few others if you want to go check it out.

The learning curve…

I’ve been going back through my manuscript and looking at anything that isn’t quite right.  I’ve been really picky, sometimes changing just one or two words, sometimes changing paragraphs.  I’ve realized something as I’ve gone through that I think is critical in the writing process:  It’s good to put down your manuscript and come back to it later. 

I’ve seen so many things I never saw before.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve decided to cut a scene altogether, or to combine it with another one.  The first few times through I was just getting the story in.  I wrote everything that came to my mind — scenes that were just fun, conversations I imagined had happened, everything.  This time, I’ve really wanted to make sure everything has a reason, that everything moves the story forward in some way.  Sometimes it’s hard.  There have been scenes I loved that I cut.  They just weren’t necessary.  And as hard as that is sometimes, it’s part of the process, and it makes the manuscript better and tighter.

Starting a novel in the wrong place…or why partials get rejected.

The title for this blog entry came from litaray agent Kristin Nelson.  Back in May, she blogged about the two biggest reasons partials aren’t turned into fulls.  And since she was someone who requested a partial for me but didn’t request the full, I really read this closely.  The first reason was that the novel started in the wrong place.  When I sent my partial to Ms. Nelson, it did start in the wrong place.  It took me a long time to realize that and to recognize where the right place was.  And I wasn’t totally wrong.  The scene I started with is still the scene I start with, just at a different point in that scene.

The second reason Ms. Nelson lists for a rejection is minutiae.  In trying to get the story going, the author gives all details of characters, their interactions, everything about them…you get the idea.  The story isn’t really moving forward.  Instead, scenes are created for the sole purpose of character development.  She reminds that relevant character details should be “seamlessly woven” into scenes that move the story forward.  In my case, I’ve never been satisfied with my second chapter.  I always felt like it stalled, but there was information in there that needed to be there.  When I read this from Ms. Nelson, I realized that minutiae is exactly my problem with some of my early chapters.  I start with the story and then kind of take a break to develop things before going back to the story.

I thought long and hard about what to do and (eventually) had an epiphany.  I needed to move my current chapter five or six to chapter 2.  The other details I need to work into the story.  Now we just need to see if I can do it well.

The dreaded query…

For any of you writers out there, you know how frustrating writing a query letter can be.  My first round of submissions (about a year ago) garnered a couple of partial requests but no fulls.  I’m polishing up the manuscript, especially the beginning, and hopefully will be submitting again by the end of the summer.  So….I’ve rewritten my query letter.  It has been a completely frustrating process but I think it’s finally getting somewhere.  I think what I have now will be much better than what I had before.

Last time I wrote a query, I posted it in the “Query Letter Hell” section on Absolute Write.  I had suggestions and it got to the point where it was ok, but it wasn’t great.  I’ve gone through this same process again, posting on Absolute Write, getting responses, and making changes accordingly.  I’m finally to the point where people are actually liking the query letter.  I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s at least garnering more positive than negative responese.  A huge improvement over last time.

Hopefully a year from now I’ve had success in getting published.  The query letter is a huge part of that, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

It’s not procrastination…it’s…ok, it’s procrastination.

I’ve known for a few months now that I have an entire chapter I need to rewrite, specifically, Chapter 4.  It’s a tough chapter.  There is a lot of information to get into the chapter, but it can’t sound backstoryish or have too much telling.  The problem is that it is critical information.  However, because I know it’s going to take some work, I keep putting it off.  I’ve been working on chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3,…you get the idea.  I keep telling myself that chapter 4 is stewing in my brain and that when I get down to it, it won’t be as hard as I think.  We’ll see if that’s true.  I am bound and determined to finally get to it this week and next.  Cross your fingers.  It could either be one of the best chapters — or one of the most confusing.

Absolute write…absolutely!!

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Absolute Write lately and wanted to let you know how absolutely amazing it is.  Mostly I’m in the forums, specifically “share your work.”  I’ve posted my work there and gotten some great feedback from other writers.  Some of the advice is perfect.  I also get to see samples of other people’s work and share my opinion.  It’s a great place to get to know other writers and to get feedback on your own stuff.

I’ve been especially excited this last round.  As anyone who reads frequently knows, I’ve been working and working and working on my first chapter, specifically the first few pages.  That’s where you either catch the interest of the reader — or you don’t.  Anyway, I’ve gotten some great reviews this time around.  People still want my first few paragraphs to be shorter, but after that, everyone seems to like what they’re reading.  That not only makes me feel like I’m progessing, but that maybe someday you’ll all be able to buy my finished book.

Here’s hoping!!

Writing…and rewriting…and rewriting…you get the idea…

So I know I mentioned a little about this last time, but writing is more revising than it is writing a first draft.  I wrote my entire first draft in four months.  I’ve been revising for two years since then.  Remember that almost one year of that was kind of a joke because I had a new baby, but still.  The only good thing in all of that?  The manuscript is so much better.  I’ve had agents request partials.  I mean, that’s at least something.  I’ve also had beta readers really like my writing.  That’s something, too.  And I’ve gotten lots of great feedback that has made the book even better.  The characters are more developed, the plot isn’t far-fetched, and the pacing is good.  Hopefully this will one day land me an agent.

One other thing I’ve been working on is the first paragraph of chapter one.  One of my beta readers liked how she read it (which is the one I have posted), but thought it could be even stronger.  Another beta reader doesn’t like the kind of openings that are vague and kind of omniscient.  You tell me.  I’ll post three possibilities for a beginning and you can leave a comment about which one would hook you in the best.

Option 1:  “Ethan should never have agreed to this.  It was one thing to engage in a friendly round of swordplay with Lord Andrew, his closest friend.  It was another thing entirely to accept Lord Malcolm’s challenge — not one of his closest friends.  And yet here he was, facing one of the best swordsmen in the kingdom.”

Option 2:  “Some things were secret for a reason.  Ethan knew that.  Perhaps better than anyone.  It had been engrained into him like a slow, constant drip of water from the time he could remember.  And yet, he’d still betrayed the most secret knowledge of all.  He’d revealed too much.  Simon would know — even if no one else did.  Ethan squeezed his eyes shut for a brief second and steadied the hand on his sword.  Whether he liked it or not, things were going to change.”

Option 3:  “It had started like any relatively normal day.  Ethan had reluctantly agreed to meet Andrew for a round of swordplay.  He’d walked into the awe-inspiring hall, without feeling the least bit of awe.  He was accustomed to the smooth, stone walls, the shafts of light from the early afternoon sun streaming through the high, narrow windows, the swords neatly arranged in racks, and the groups of men standing in small clusters, some talking, some practicing intricate patterns.”

Anyway, let me know what you think.

Wow…writing can be a long, long, long…process.

Once again, I haven’t posted in a long time.  I’d like to say that’s because I’ve been furiously working on my book, gotten an agent and a publisher, and I’ve been doing revisions.  Unfortunately only part of that is true:  I’ve been doing revisions.  The problem I’ve had is that my little girl, now eight months, isn’t always cooperative.  Still, I have gotten some things accomplished.  I think I’ve finally gotten the first chapter to how I like it.  We’ll see soon enough.  I have a couple of beta readers giving me their opinions.  If anyone else wants to share an opinion, I’d love that too.  You can find the link on the side bar under “My Book” or up at the top on the tab.  The prologue and first chapter are posted.

On another note, I have had a few responses from agents, requesting a partial.  That is exciting, but since no full has been requested it is also a little disheartening.  It makes me wonder if something is wrong with the first chapter (hopefully not any more), if my writing isn’t good enough (definitely a possibility), if the story isn’t good enough (I can’t really believe that), or if the agent just wasn’t interested in my type of story (I hope that’s the real answer).

I am, however, determined to perservere.