What I’m Reading, Writing, and Watching this Month

What I’m Reading, Writing, and Watching this Month

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Hey all! Haven’t done a monthly update in a while, but watched a movie last night that made me want to do one.

What I’m reading:

  • Count of Monte Cristo, unabridged. Still. I am shooting for the end of the year on this one. If I finish reading it in 2017 I will consider that an accomplishment.
  • It Started With Goodbye by Christina June. A very cute YA novel about stepmothers and stepsisters. Some reviews call it a modern retelling of Cinderella. I do love the “fairy godmother” character of Blanche in the book.

What I’m watching:

  • The Prestige. My god. This movie is classified as science fiction horror or something awful, but it definitely held my attention. Two dueling magicians in the late 1800s, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, keep trying to one up each other and steal each other’s tricks. About once a year I see a movie that leaves me thinking, what the hell did we just watch? (In a good way). This movie came out in 2006, but is definitely my wow movie of 2017. It’s also a book that I now want to read.
  • America’s Got Talent. Or as we call it in my house, my weekly sob fest. I love watching creative peoples’ dreams come true. I’ve always thought it to be a shame that there isn’t a reality competition for writers, but know that it would be terminally boring to watch people in pj’s typing away at keyboards.

What I’m writing:

  • One Love, the sequel to One Night, is with an editor. I am excited about this one. It still involves Thompson and his romantic issues, but it’s different than the first book.  More details coming soon.
  • Still tinkering with the YA novel set in Serbia. I’ve heard that if you’re at the tinkering stage it’s time to let it go. We’ll see.

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The biggest mistake you can make in a query

The biggest mistake you can make in a query

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It isn’t spelling the agent’s name wrong, comparing yourself to a bestselling author, or using all capital letters.  The biggest mistake I see time and time again when reading other writers’ queries is that they’re all over the place and confuse the reader.

No one wants to have to think when reading a query.  No one wants to remember seven named characters or try and connect points A, B, and X to figure out what you meant or what the point of your story is.  They want a succinct preview of the plot (i.e. book jacket copy) that makes them want to keep reading.

You never want to have someone read your query and think:

-Where is the setting?

-Who is this character?

-Is this character named John or Johnny?  Are they two different people or the same person?

-Are we in the present day or is this set in the future?

-I don’t know what the hell I just read.

One way you can avoid a confusing query is to summarize your work in one sentence and go from there (i.e. the elevator pitch).  Another thing you can do is write the query before you even start your novel.  I usually do this to help myself stay on track and so I have a clear idea of where the story is going.

Remember, a query is your first chance to impress an agent.  You don’t want to blow your chance because you confused them.

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Remove these words from your manuscript

Remove these words from your manuscript

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Or, as I like to call it, Advanced Show Don’t Tell.

It will be difficult to eradicate every instance of these words from your manuscript, but you’ll find if you do a search on them (two or three times) you can eliminate a high percentage of them and provide stronger description of what’s happening on the page.

  • feel
  • felt
  • think
  • thought
  • LY words
  • ING words
  • smile – a lot of times words like smile and laugh are implied by dialogue or action and don’t need to be included
  • laugh
  • grin
  • frown
  • gaze
  • stare
  • very
  • seem
  • really
  • great
  • looked
  • swear words – usually there is a better way to describe a character’s emotion through action

Reduce the frequency of the above words and you’ll find your manuscript to be 100% stronger.

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