The biggest thing that happened since the last update is the conclusion of the editing workshop. I learned so much from the class. I plan to do a post at a later date of the most important lessons. It wasn’t without it’s trials. The teacher had a look at the first chapter of Random Acts of Nudity. Her major feedback was that I was over writing. Using ten words where two would do. Overwhelming the narrative with flashbacks and digressions. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard feedback on those lines. But it was the first time I could see the problem for myself.
I must admit, it threw my confidence for a few days. There was so much that needed to be cut! Would I still have a book by the end? How could I be so blind about how bad the writing was? Was it even worth editing? And it got into my head as was writing my current WIP. I kept questioning every line as I was writing. Am I doing it right now? Which words do I need? It almost paralyzed me.
But after a couple of days the feedback sunk in. I could look at the text I was editing and see what was essential and what could go. I’ve edited the first five chapters, and have cut around four thousand words so far. And the book is essentially the same. I might end up with a much shorter book by the time I’ve finished this latest edit. But I’d rather have a very good 50,000 word book than a decent one of 70,000.
And I reminded myself that the book I was beating myself up over, had gotten to the top one percent of ABNA. It had garnered a glowing Publishers’ Weekly review, excess words and all. The book is not worthless, but it has room for improvement.
Another development is that my critique group read RAON in its entirety. They too gave me valuable feedback. Helped me see areas that needed to be fleshed out and/or clarified. I love my critique group, they’re so encouraging and generous with their time. Though they don’t sugarcoat the critique. I’ve decided to put querying on hiatus until I’ve finished this round of editing, and implemented their feedback.
Of course I already had it on submission with a few agents as this was going on. I’ve heard back from three of the four who requested pages. Two have passed, offering similar feedback as my editing teacher. One I’ve yet to hear from. And one requested the complete manuscript! That was very exciting. And she had seen the pre editing class version. We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.
And in spite of the self imposed hiatus, I couldn’t resist entering another pitch contest, and got another request. So I sent out the new streamlined version of the first three chapters this afternoon.
On the non RAON writing front, I did not finish the WIP in time to begin a new project for NaNoWriMo. Between the WIP, the intense editing on RAON, critiquing this month’s manuscript for the group, and holding down my day job, I just didn’t have the time. But I do have a pretty good idea of what my next project will be. I’m thinking of trying my hand at Middle Grade fantasy.
In the meantime, I’ve bounced back from the self doubt, and the end of the WIP is in sight. It’s currently at 113,000 words. I expect to add another 15 to 20 thousand by the time it’s done. It’s the longest book I’ve ever written, (previous champion is 80,000). Granted once I’ve cut the excess, it’ll likely be closer to 90,000. Regardless it will feel good to get to the end.
Finally in baked goods news, I went on a bit of a baking spree. I made chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ganache cookies, and dark chocolate peanut butter cups. And now my pants are way too tight. So the baking is also on hiatus. Except for the batch of pumpkin bread I made this afternoon. I basically used the same recipe as the banana bread, but substituted pumpkin pie filling for the bananas. It’s super moist.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!
It’s been more than a week since my last progress report, but these few weeks in writing doesn’t have much of a ring to it. So what’s happened? I’ve heard from two agents. One was one of the four who requested pages. She was very nice. Said the concept is fabulous, but that it wasn’t quite the right fit for her. The other is one I queried during a time when she said every query would get a personal reply, even if it was a no, rather than a form rejection. A form rejection is a prewritten letter just saying no, with no reasons behind the no. Her response was also a pass, because she had recently signed an edgy YA, and that mine sounded too issue driven for her taste. So, no agent yet, but both rejections were encouraging in their way. Neither said the concept wasn’t sellable or that the writing was bad. The first specifically said it was likely an agent out there that will want it. But that she isn’t that agent. The other already had a project that could possibly compete. The interesting thing to me about her feedback is I don’t think of Random Acts of Nudity as an issue driven book. I see the sex tape as the catalyst of the story, not the focus of it. It’s an important part of the story but its not all sex tape all the time. but I’ve been working on the book for over a year, I’m too close to see it objectively.
It’s been an eventful week. I participated in a pitch event on twitter. The rules were simple. Pitch your book in 140 characters or less, and mark it with the tag #pitmad. Agents were following the tag, and if they liked what they saw, they’d favorite your tweet. I had three agents request mine. Which means there are now three agents with pages from Random Acts of Nudity in their inbox (plus a fourth who had requested pages off a similar event the week before). So now I wait to see if any of them ask for more. And I try to not to obsess over the undiscovered typos that appeared in the excerpt seconds after each time I hit send. Hopefully a missing quotation mark here and a random paragraph break there won’t ruin the query’s chances, but who knows? Having an agent/s request pages is a small goal to check off on my mental list of “things that mean I’m a real author.”