Friday, January 27, 2012

How Editing and Polishing a Manuscript is like Putting on Make Up

You know how you get out of the shower and your hair is up in your super-sexy plastic shower cap, and yesterday's mascara is streaked down your face, and your skin is all red and splotchy from the hot water, you look in the mirror and think, "my poor husband"? (No, just me? Well go with it, for the sake of metaphor, okay?) Well, that's what it's like when you read through the first draft of your manuscript.

You cringe at the way "just" and "was" are littered across every page. You stab your fork forcefully into the plate of black beans and cous cous (it's all that was in the cupboard because you were locked in the house writing your manuscript) at every terrible simile. You throw your hands in the air and yell things like, "What the Hell is a Finnimbrum and why did I write about it?"

But then, you grab your cold cream and wipe away the remnant mascara. You moisturize and tweeze, and work your magic. Skillfully highlighting your best features and covering the blemishes. You consult fashion magazines to figure out if it's shimmer gloss or matte lipstick this spring and ignore them when they say orange is the new pink (it isn't).

Editing your first draft is just like that. You rewrite entire scenes, move chapters and consult every grammar site you have in your bookmarks. If you're like me, you even take a self editing course BEFORE your write your book, sometimes wondering if it did more harm than good (it didn't).

If you're feeling really brave, or lost, you head to Sephora and ask one of those heavily adorned women that hawk thirty dollar sticks of eyeliner to show you how to perfectly apply blush and recommend a better color palate for your skin tone.

And that's exactly what it's like to give your second draft to your critique partners. They point out when you use the same adjective 15 times and how you forgot to mention the heroine was missing an arm until the last chapter when the hero gives her one glove for Christmas.

But in both scenarios, you aren't throwing in the towel. You don't say "screw it" and put a paper bag on your head, just like you don't print your manuscript, delete it from your hard drive and then set all 300 pages on fire (even if you fantasize about it).

You clean it up, make it the prettiest it can possibly be, and then send it out into the word for everyone to see. And jut like you, not everyone is going to think it's pretty, but there is always one person who will find it to be beautiful. That, my friends, is the only person that matters. And they are worth every tweezed eyebrow and red penned page.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Author Spotlight: Aida Brassington

Hello friends! I'm excited to bring you the first installment of my new feature: "Author Spotlight". I will be interviewing a new author every month, shedding light on the trials and tribulations of the writer's world, as well as the the triumph of success. My guest today recently released her debut novel BETWEEN SEASONS. I'm a huge fan or her work, and I hope you are as excited to get to know her as I am. Without further ado, please welcome, Aida Brassington. 


I want to start off by thanking you for being the very first guest in my “Author Spotlight” feature. It’s an honor to have you and I’m grateful that you have taken time out of your busy schedule to chat with me. Now, down to the nitty-gritty. 
Thank you for having me! Ooo, your very first! I’m honored.
I recently finished your debut novel Between Seasons. I really loved Patrick. Seeing everything through his eyes, trapped in a world neither here nor there. It’s ethereal without being spooky, kind of like peering through the veil between this life and the spiritual realm. Can you share a little about what inspired his character?
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the novel!
My house isn’t super old – it was built in the early 1900s. My husband I moved here about ten years ago. Almost immediately my pets started acting a little funky. And it wasn’t all the time. We joked about there being a ghost. Well . . . one day I’m sitting in my living room, and the dog jets over to the bottom of the stairs and sits up, like she’s begging. I look over, and there’s a man standing on the landing. He stared at me for a few seconds, and then he was gone.
And that’s what he does. Every now and then my keys turn up missing, which may or may not be the work of our ghost (but I blame him anyway). It’s pretty benign as far as hauntings go, but how can you not wonder about who else is living in your house with you, right? That’s how the idea for Between Seasons came up.
You’re working on a sequel, correct? What can you tell us about the next phase of Patrick’s story? 
I am. I can’t really say much without giving away the ending of Between Seasons, but North of Frost continues the story of Sara and Patrick. Ginny (an old friend of Patrick’s and a new friend of Sara’s) plays a pretty large part, too. The real issue in the novel is dealing with the consequences of getting your dearest wish, and it also answers questions about the why and how of what happens to Patrick in the first novel.
Tell us a little about yourself. Was writing always your passion or did you stumble into your talent as a pleasant surprise?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I’ve known how to string words into sentences. My mother has little stories I wrote as a kid still saved up. As an adult, I was mostly a short story writer and a poet because that’s all I had time for. You get busy with your life, you know? And I never really seriously considered doing anything with my writing other than writing for me. Over the years I ended up writing more, and then suddenly I was writing novels. Even though Between Seasons is my debut novel, I’ve written just about half a dozen novel-length pieces.
As for talent, well, I’m still not super confident in my abilities (but thank you for saying I do have some!). I think the minute you start thinking your writing is amazing and wonderful, you stop learning and trying to perfect. I’d rather think I suck and continue to improve.
Everyone encounters challenges in their creative process. From time-sucks like the internet to writer’s block, we all face problems that impede our progress. What kind of hurdles do you encounter when you’re writing? How do you overcome them?
One of my strongest personality traits is that I’m singularly focused. If I want to finish something, I do it. I set goals for myself that are arbitrary, but if I don’t meet them I get really down on myself. Some might say that in itself is a challenge to the creative process, but I kind of think it helps. To ensure that I don’t get writers block, I outline like a crazy person before I start writing. Again, some say outlines impede creativity. I don’t know – I guess I fight creative blocks by trying to be organized.
What is the one thing you wish you would have known when you were starting out as a writer? 
I’ll amend my answer to reflect what I wish I would have known when I started getting serious about writing – and that’s the fact that it’s a waste of time to worry about what anyone else is going to think about my writing. I’m a worrier by nature, and I’ve spent a fair amount of time obsessing over what and how I’m writing. I’m not talking about the mechanics (although I’m always a freak about presenting my very best to the world)…I’m more or less talking about being concerned whether people are going to love it. The fact of the matter is that someone out there is going to enjoy what I write. 
Writing is subjective, and that’s an understatement. Whether it’s Between Seasons, The Old Man and The Sea, or Catch-22 (and believe me: I am in no way saying I’m as good as Ernest Hemingway or Joseph Heller), someone is going to love it and get it, and another person is going to hate it and think it’s stupid.
Quick Three:
Favorite book: A Prayer for Owen Meany/John Irving
Favorite drink: Bloody Mary
Favorite article of clothing: mittens
Thanks again to Aida Brassington for sharing her wisdom and her wonderful book, BETWEEN SEASONS. For more info on Aida, you can find her at her Website  on Goodreads  and on Twitter . 
BETWEEN SEAONS is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon  Barnes & Noble and  Smashwords

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm a Guest Blogger!

Today I am a guest blogger over on Nicole Wolverton's site. She is a superb freelance writer and novelist who has written several novels, including adult thrillers, dark romantic comedies and young adult horror. I have had the pleasure of reading her works for quite some time now and am thrilled to be a guest on her site.  

To read my take on honesty in writing, aptly titled "The Discomfort of Honesty", please visit her blog here.