Saturday, February 25, 2017

Clipping Document

This is me carefully editing my manuscript
For those of you waiting for the next Caitlyn Jamison Mystery to be published, the good news is I am more than halfway through the second draft. The not so good news is that there is still much work to be done!

Editing a manuscript is a difficult, time consuming, and tedious job. Did I mention it is a necessary one? Reading a manuscript in a slow and careful manner allows the author to get into the flow of the book, the characters, and the plot lines. The author will find which characters need to be developed more, and what plot lines need further development. I also find many words and sentences that are not pulling their weight – I make my words work and those that don’t – Gone!

As I make my way through the second edit, I realized that the initial character for the genealogy subplot was not developed so that the reader could connect with her, and maybe even sympathize with her plight.

Actually she was. Early on in the book’s development I had written a chapter describing Edda van der Molen, putting her in time and place. But as the book’s other characters and plot lines were developed I felt the chapter featuring Edda was not what I wanted.

But it was a chapter and I hated the thought of deleting all that writing. I decided to put this chapter into a “clipping document.” The document would serve as a holding place for sentences, paragraphs, even chapters that for one reason or another didn’t work anymore. Why waste them? As I worked my way through the book, I have dipped into my clipping document and pulled out words and sentences that I tweaked enough to fit perfectly into the story line.

As for Edda, I had clipped her chapter into a separate document (thank goodness; easy to find), and labeled it “Edda.” When I realized I needed to flesh out Edda more, I copied and pasted the clipping into the manuscript and edited it down to give the details I needed.

Consequently, my advice to writers: When your creative writing doesn’t work, don’t throw it out – save it in a “Clipping Document,” (properly labeled). You never know when that piece of writing just might be the ticket for soup!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Connecting with Your Audience

Island Branch Library, Holmes Beach, Florida
Presenting at the Island Branch Library Friends Travel and Lecture series was a magical time for me. I was billed as a first time author and would share stories of writing and self-publishing. Since I am a “first time self-published author,” I expected a low attendance. But in fact, about 50 people filled the library’s meeting room to hear what I had to say.

I told the audience that the first thing I do when starting a book is to turn to the back cover and read about the author. I want to know where they live, family, hobbies, pets. I’m looking for a connection. And so that’s how I started my talk, first sharing the story as to how I came to be on Anna Maria Island in the mid-1950s. And telling them how happy it makes me that the 5th generation of our family now comes to the Island each year.

I then went on to share my work background – working in the Cornell office of Dr. Carl Sagan, just post Cosmos and during the development of the scientific paper on multiple nuclear explosions, from which the term Nuclear Winter was coined. From there I explored my work experience in the president’s office of Ithaca College. I explained I now realize that these positions served as my writing/editing preparation. I was constantly exposed to proper use of the English language, and constantly expected to strive for excellence and attention to detail.

So what happened to prompt me to write a book? The audience was hooked as I lead them through the turning point in my life and how plot lines and characters came about. I entertained them with stories as to how the characters change the story. The author isn't really in control.

I also spent time on why I self-published (there were many questions about self-publishing), and walked them through the process. One slide I showed simply stated if anyone is writing and even thinking about publishing – DO YOUR HOMEWORK about publishing options.. I told them that was the only slide they needed to remember from the presentation.

I think we connected so well because I was honest with them. My only goal was to finish a manuscript. I never projected any further than that. The road to publishing was one step at a time. I was at their level, a novice, afraid, and made mistakes along the way, but I dusted myself off and persevered, with eye only on the finish line.  I gave them a few laughs, which delighted me. I tend to be very serious (read: scared) during these presentations as they are way out of my comfort level. But that is all part of the growth that I strive to achieve.

At the end of my talk one woman raised her hand. “I don’t have a question. I just want to say that you inspired me so much. I’m going home and start writing.” I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.

Bottom line is my presentation at the Island Library was an exciting event for me and I hope I inspired a number of those present.