Writing Updates

Irene Frances Olson: falling in love with my second novel

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Typist caricatureAs of yesterday, I’ve read through and edited my second novel twice. I completed this novel the end of November (writing it in one month during NaNoWriMo). The length at that time was 60,203 words.

Bridged by Betrayal is a healthy 75,366 words.

Next steps:

  1. print paper copy, do another edit, this time with colored pens & highlighters;
  2. transfer pen edits to the computer copy;
  3. print several paper copies so my Beta readers can get their hands on my manuscript and apply their constructive magic to it;
  4. review said editorial contributions; accept and reject edits and “finalize” the “final” version;
  5. write full-length synopsis for those agents who request one;
  6. start querying agents.

Three WomenI love, love, love my characters, and I hate the characters who rightly earned that hate.  Read the rest of this entry »

Manuscript editing: getting the 2nd novel ready for publication

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It’s the first full week of 2016 and I am extraordinarily excited …

because it’s time to hunker down and get my second novel ready for publication!

I’ve gathered my materials and laid them out on our large formal dining table: chapter timeline, character profiles, 2014 – 2016 calendars (the years in which the action of my novel takes place), varied colors of pens and highlighters, the “completed” manuscript brought in from the iCloud and onto my iPad, and I’m raring to go.

20151229_122600This is gonna be hard work people, make no mistake about it, but the excitement I’m experiencing is palpable and even manages to keep me awake at night.

I believe in the story, I absolutely love my characters, and I sincerely detest those who are detestable, and I’m going to perfect this manuscript … at least as much as perfection is possible from me, an imperfect writer.

Hard work is the stepping stone that no one can avoid by simply leaping over or stepping around it. I’ve never been afraid of hard work, and I’m not going to start being so now.

Do you have a difficult task you are about to start that’s got you excited, or perhaps petrified? Is anything or anyone holding you back? Are you up to the challenge?

See also, First step for any endeavor, START! 

Gone but not forgotten

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Having completed my second novel, currently titled BRIDGED BY BETRAYAL, I packed up all the research I used for my first novel, REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO.

An early version of my 1st novel circa 2014
An early version of my 1st novel circa 2014

REQUIEM spotlights a family that struggles with the tangible and emotional elements inherent when battling a disease that is always fatal; a disease that gives you daily – if not hourly – reminders of its devastating effects.

I could not write about the fictional family’s journey without incorporating some of my own stories from my years as Dad’s caregiver. I also included other people’s stories as told to me through my work as an Alzheimer’s caregiver support group facilitator, and as a Washington State certified Long-Term Care Ombudsman. (Names and facts altered to protect those directly involved.)

My Dad and I on a picnic, Spring 2005.
My Dad and I on a picnic, Spring 2005.

The research materials I packed away this past weekend consisted primarily of the caregiving journals I kept while being my father’s primary long-distance caregiver while he endured Alzheimer’s disease.

That research also included reams of paper I organized into multi-tabbed folders containing the various doctor’s reports and findings from the seven years of dad’s disease journey.

I was not prepared for the emotion with which I was blanketed when I pulled out the large waterproof chest that had resided in my writing space the past three years. Placing my research in the chest, shutting it, and returning it to its original under-the-stairs location was extremely difficult for me.

In a certain sense, I felt I had betrayed Dad because I wasn’t just packing up some paper, I was putting away the physical evidence of his seven year battle of brain function loss.  Read the rest of this entry »

Complimentary words from a literary agent

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I'm not done yet!
I’m not done yet!

Many of you know I’ve been trolling for an agent since mid-February. Each rejection I receive is a form rejection so said e-mail doesn’t say anything about my writing per se, or the subject matter. The common thread of these rejections is as follows, from a recent rejection I received:

Thanks for sending me REQUIEM FOR THE STATUS QUO.  I wish I could represent every book I enjoy. Because my resources are limited, I can only devote my energy to projects that I feel passionate about, and I’m sorry to say that your book isn’t right for me.  I greatly appreciate having had the opportunity to read your work, and I wish you all the best in finding the right agent and getting published.

I follow many agents on Twitter; one such agent is Janet Reid who also runs her infamous Query Shark site where writers’ query letters are critiqued, criticized, and cut to pieces. Janet runs a flash fiction contest every once in awhile, providing 5 words that must be used within a 100 words or less story. The 5 words can be used in whichever form we choose, but they must be used, and there’s a short window of time in which to submit the piece.  These were the words for the most recent contest posted over the weekend:

FANGLE, BANGLE, DONGLE, TEN, TEAR

Here was my submission:

Gloria never dressed to draw attention; her style was more Quaker Gray than Newfangled Bright, so it was a stretch parading around in a matching orange blouse and pants. A this point, however, she was ready to tear herself away from them.

She looked forward to replacing the wrist bangle she currently sported so beautifully, with a Star Wars-type ankle dongle. Gloria didn’t know how her old man would take to the addition, but he always was kinda kinky; ten to one odds he’d get turned on by her new look.

“Inmate 563214, you’re free to go.”

Okay, now the exciting part. Read the rest of this entry »

12 Lessons Learned From a Debut Author | WritersDigest.com

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12 Lessons Learned From a Debut Author | WritersDigest.com. I’m a debut novelist so I latched onto the attached article pronto! In writing this article, Anne A. Wilson managed to describe emotions I’ve been experiencing for the past several months.

Female writer with streak of gray hairWhat makes Anne’s story even more relatable for me, a somewhat older novelist, is that Ms. Wilson wrote her first novel six years ago at the age of forty-three.  That’s not the novel that actually got published, but herein lies my point: it took years for her to write a publishable book.  Also, Ms. Wilson had no creditable writing education or experience when she decided to write a novel.  Like me, she was “starting from scratch.” Read the rest of this entry »

I write because I have to

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On my Facebook page a couple weeks ago, I said it didn’t bother me that I had sent out a handful of queries in my effort to secure an agent and had received one or two not interesteds.

Please read my manuscript!
Please read my manuscript!

As of today, I’ve queried 50 agents, received 11 not interesteds, which leaves 39 agents unaccounted for, from whom I may not receive a response because although agencies usually indicate their expected response time, oftentimes they only respond when they’re interested.  That leaves this Land of Limbo for agents on my spreadsheet who may have exceeded their indicated response time.  Do I delete them from my spreadsheet?  Do I give them another week/month before writing them off?

You see, searching for an agent is like looking for a job.  The writer’s query letter is like the cover letter to ones resume.  The resume is the writer’s manuscript.  If the agent likes what they read in the query/if the employer likes what they read in the cover letter, they want to look further. Read the rest of this entry »

Entering the arena of vulnerability

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Arena colliseumNow that my novel is finished, I decided to re-post an article I wrote about daring greatly. Everything we do requires a certain amount of risk: walking across the street, going on a 1st date, changing careers. But if we don’t take a calculated risk, we’ll never see the inside of the arena; we’ll never know what we missed.

I hope you enjoy reading this article that served to remind me that as I start to look for agent representation for my first novel, I should do so with the confidence that my vulnerability will one day pay off.

Living: the ultimate team sport

It’s not the critic who counts; it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles; or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

re-enactment of a gladiator fight in the arena... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The credit goes to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly and who errs and fails, and is sometimes victorious.  But when he fails, at least he does so daring greatly.

The above is an abbreviated quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Citizenship in a Republic a/k/a The Man in the Arena, delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910.

Brené Brown, PhD, paraphrased the above when appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s show, Super Soul Sunday.  I admit – I’m addicted to the types of shows that challenge the way I think, and/or that validate the way I think.  This particular show that…

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I’ll write what I damn well please

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Where has freedom of the press, and freedom of speech gone?

Must we concern ourselves with offending every element of society – friendly or adverse – with the words we choose to express ourselves?  to express our views?  Whether political or religious views; whether mundane topics such as fashion or dining; are we supposed to produce euphemistic journalism so as to avoid ruffling the feathers of another person’s beliefs or opinions?

That’s not my plan.
Read the rest of this entry »

Do you believe in magic?

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Horoscope chartMy December 29, 2012 Horoscope:

Today is a 7.  Now’s perfect to start a new writing project; no need to wait until next year.  Put down your thoughts without worrying about form, one word at a time.

Prior to 12/29/2012 I would have stood by my belief that Horoscopes are merely faulty predictions by faulty people provided to those of us who are humored by such baseless declarations of personalized present and future outcomes.

But that personalized declaration for Irene on a day in late December 2012 was right on the money.

Computer stationThe backstory: During the summer of 2012 I made the decision to write a novel that focuses on the lives of caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.  The focus would be split with equal attention spent on the person with the disease.  My book’s mission: to put a personal face on those every day people (that’s you and me) thrust onto the memory-removing disease journey.  Once I made the decision to write a book, I set January 1, 2013 as the start date for my project.

That start date was moved up based on the extremely accurate Horoscope (see above) for this wannabe author whose birthday fell under the sign of the bull: Taurus.

I obeyed the directive and sat at my computer that very day and managed to write page after page of content.  Wow!  I’m writing a novel!  It was quite exhilarating being able to spew page after page of fictional story line based on experiences I had with my father, my sister-in-law, and the many people with whom I became acquainted during my years of work with vulnerable adults.

I finished the “final” version of my manuscript earlier this month and set the timeline for next steps: starting January 1, 2015 I will actively seek representation for my novel.  Oddly enough, that seems to jive with today’s Horoscope (2 years after the first timely Horoscope) if you force a few of the jigsaw puzzle pieces to fit what’s currently going on in my life.

My December 29, 2014 Horoscope:

Today is a 6.  Hide away somewhere peaceful and you can get some productive thinking in.  Inspire intuitive leaps.  Creative work pays well now.  Don’t squander an enticing opportunity.  Meditate on it, and your choice comes to you.  Nurture your physical health with exercise, good food and rest.

Glass Now TAMI guess I may as well get to it based on previous personal declarations that brought me to this stage of my writing career.  Seriously, why wait when I can do it now?

If you’re interested in how this all pans out for me, I hope you’ll Follow my blog for updates.  If you’re already a Follower, stay tuned for more predictions and/or fabulous outcomes.

 

 

The ups and downs of writing

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My manuscript before I cut it down to size
My manuscript BEFORE I cut it down to size

The first weekend of October, I attended my first writer’s conference, a conference that inspired me to live a life filled with high risk writing.  The risk?  I might get rejected.

I entered two contests within a week of returning home.  Alas, I found out on Wednesday, November 12th, that I did not win the Writer’s Digest Dear Lucky Agent contest.  This was a contest wherein a writer’s completed – but not yet published – manuscript is front and center.  Entrants submitted the first 200 words of their manuscript and a one-page query letter that provided an “elevator pitch” type of synopsis of the completed work.  Three winners were chosen from a field of many; those winners won the privilege of having the first 10 pages of their manuscript critiqued by the agent judge of the competition.

As soon as I discovered that I had not been chosen as a winner for that contest, I entered another one.  I sincerely believe that the more you write, the better at writing you become.  I’m counting on that to be true.  I am now researching other contests to enter so that my high risk writing career will have a better chance of taking off.

I'm not done yet!
I’m not done yet!

I’m not ashamed that I didn’t win the very first writing competition that I entered; I’m happy that I had the guts to take a risk.

 

Stay tuned; win or lose, I will provide updates on every contest that I enter. 

High risk writing

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Edmonds Waterfront October 2014
Edmonds Waterfront October 2014

I attended the Write on the Sound writer’s conference in Edmonds, Washington October 3rd thru 5th.  I participated in numerous workshops – most of which were very beneficial.  One of the challenges I heard many of the instructors tell us wannabe authors was to enter as many writing contests as possible.

Put yourself out there; take a risk; keep writing.

That sentiment really resonated with me.  Since returning home from the conference, I’ve already entered one contest and have two more lined up for which I’m preparing submission pieces.  And I’m stretching myself by trying new genres.  Case in point: I submitted a 3,000 word short story called Variant in the Horror genre.  Shocking, right?  Winners of that Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards contest won’t be announced until the end of the year.

Later this week I will be entering the “Dear Lucky Agent Contest” by submitting only the first 200 words of my completed novel, Armed for Bear, (current working title) plus a query letter.  Winners of that contest will be announced early November.

Writer in the making
Writer in the making

Additionally, today I wrote the first draft of a short story that I’ll be submitting later next month.  The story must begin with the following sentence, “I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over.”  This was a fun piece to write because it can only be 750 words or less.  It takes lots of discipline to slim down a story so that it’s still entertaining and says what it’s supposed to say.

Wish me luck as I keep on submitting pieces!

Just like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t enter.