The Red Ink, Blues?

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DO BETTER. Those were the two words scrawled on the very first draft of my young adult novel, many years ago. I was new to the craft and had yet to experience the sometimes brutal, always remarkable insight of the critique world. Let’s just say I learned the hard way, military style, with zillions of Track Change bubbles and plenty of red ink screaming at me from every direction. One particular scribble challenged me to simply DO BETTER. Imagine my horror.

But my beloved editor friend was right, and when I read my manuscript again, I did so with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. Now, I am the one with the red ink writing DO BETTER on my own manuscripts.

In other news, I left the SCBWI-Austin conference feeling more hopeful than ever about my young adult manuscript. The agent who critiqued my first ten pages/synopsis LOVED it, and invited me to send the final draft when done.

My pleasure. 🙂

I credit my friend’s two wonderful words. Now, I am paying the challenge forward to you, my new writing friends. Never fear the red ink. Instead, force yourself to always DO BETTER.

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Writer vs. Outline/Synopsis

Every conference, there is always one editor who advocates writing an outline or a synopsis. One editor almost convinced me, too. But my own mind prevailed and I have gotten away with writing manuscripts without such confinement.

Until today.

An upcoming conference deadline put coals under my feet. I am scheduled to meet a pretty awesome agent there, and our first ten pages plus a synopsis is due by THIS THURSDAY! My problem is that I only have twelve chapters written. Even though I know how the story will end, I had no real idea of how it would get there.

Now I do.

Thanks to the required synopsis that must accompany my ten-page submission, I had to make some decisions and make them quick. What emerged was a strong climax and much stronger ending than what I had originally created. A lip quiver and a tear followed my last sentence so it must be good!  😉

Although my manuscript is not yet finished, my hope is to get professional feedback on its beginning and a possible invitation for the full manuscript once it’s done.

My fingers are crossed.

Now, I am a full believer in writing a synopsis even before I start writing a manuscript. Meanwhile, the outline can still suck it. 😉

My Picture Book, My Problem

Like millions of others, I wrote a picture book. Also like millions of others, it was about Christmas. The difference is, my picture book about Christmas has caught the attention of a handful of agents and editors. My roadblock, however, is that I have never been published before and they always say–“We do not publish Christmas books by new authors.”

Grrrr….

So what’s a new author to do? The manuscript has been praised by notable Scholastic editors who have asked to see more of my work, but… I do not have another perfectly polished picture book manuscript to send them. I am so divided between jotting down new pb’s and completing my YA novel by the end of 2012, that I am spread fairly thin.

Furthermore, while I understand the logic behind not publishing holiday books by new authors (marketing dollars and all), I can’t help but wish more publishing houses would take a chance.

So what’s an unpublished author to do? Actually consider self-publishing? Or place the PB on the shelf until my YA novel is complete and published, then try the Christmas PB again?

Has anyone else hit this roadblock? And if so, were you able to find a satisfying resolution?

My blog is new and will go unread for a good long while, but still… maybe someday someone will stumble upon my dilemma and have some thoughts to share. Even better, I may stumble upon a satisfying resolution someday and share my thoughts with another writer who is going through the same dilemma.

Either way, big hugs to you all. And happy writing!