Friday, November 30, 2012

A Perspective in Writing

As writers, we write about mystery, tragedy, love and sometimes forgiveness. We write about dreams, adventure, fiction, or fact. So many of our writing abilities center around dreams, thoughts, or experiences that we've had. Not all experiences make us better and not all stories are written.

But perspective is important to keep or allow ourselves some slack. We all want immediate success and stardom. We often want to see our hard work on the shelves of a book store. But, it is a journey - a long one. We need to remember this perspective or we will get lost.

I've recently started to query again. I've had mixed results. I have tried a critique group before, but I need to find a new one. I also have been in contact with some editing agencies to advance my manuscript in a way I wasn't able to do before.

I've needed my struggles to push me to work harder, try new things, and research like my life depended on it. But, the worse thing that can happen...is for me to give up.  So, here's to another month of writing, editing, researching or planning.  Good luck to us all.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Query Letter - Another Attempt



The Query Letter is one of the more crazy things in publishing. It is also one of the more scary. To tell you the truth...I am pretty scared.

I've heard that most authors hate the query letter. I think the real reason for this is that it could be done a hundred different ways and still not be right. But, there are almost always a few ways that can get the agent or publisher to look at your book.  That is really what it comes down to. A query is an audition for your manuscript.  But when we get rejected - it can be painful. But that is the name of the game and it isn't always a bad thing. Round one of my query letters really taught me a lot. I ended up completely changing my manuscript into a far better one. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that the outcome will be any better this time around.

 I've read a ton of other query letters and some of the ones that succeeded  I didn't like very much. While others that failed had some interesting aspects. But collectively I could see why they failed. It's all a matter of opinion and what gets you on a certain day.

I've written about 20 different query letters and a few of the times I thought that they would work. I cooled off and read something else or worked on a different manuscript and came back to them. Each time, until recently, I wanted to make more and more changes. I am excited about my latest attempt. It feels and reads more solidly. I think it captures more of my story and the way I want it to be seen. But in the end...the agents will be the final judges.  So.....off we go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Adios to my Prologue

After much deliberation and the help of my most recent conference - I am putting to rest my prologue.

As a reader, I love prologues - if done well. They really can grab my attention and throw me into the story. The problem as a writer - it has to be perfect. Mine was far from perfect.

My real problem is that I have two stories wrapped around each other. One in present day and one about 50 years ago. The older story is small but helpful to understand my main story.

I was trying to start my manuscript with my secondary story and my prologue introduce that second story. Therefore, the prologue didn't have anything to do with the main story itself. The prologue often give a back story that helps the story move. I've heard many editors say that if a prologue is done - they will skip it immediately - read the story and then read the prologue. If the prologue teaches them something that they had missed in the story - then they would consider keeping it. My change wasn't hard at all.

If you can imagine - my manuscript has 56 chapters. 45 chapters are devoted to my main story and about10 chapters are devoted to the secondary story. Truth be told though - the secondary story is really just a single long chapter. My former prologue was the first chapter of 10 I just mentioned.

My change consisted of taking the prologue and moving it to chapter 5 of my story. From there - every 5-7 chapters I would add another piece of the puzzle. It was a fun way of doing it. In the end, I kept the chapter - because it is helpful in the overall story.

What are your feelings, as a reader, about prologues.

If you are a writer...does your idea of a prologue change?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New Writing Contest - New Adult Fiction

Getting back to writing has been a top priority since coming back from vacation. We headed off to see family in Michigan and it was fantastic. Caught some huge fish as well!

I haven't been stalling on my writing - but I haven't been progressing either. That hopefully will change in the next few weeks.  My first thought was try to get some feedback from a contest.

I was searching twitter and found one that will be a good start.  It is from a New Adult - which is a category of writing just above young adult. This is exactly where my manuscript falls.

I am excited about this contest - learn more at http://naalley.blogspot.com/2012/08/agent-in-alley-pitch-contest-with-agent.html

I thought I'd let you read what I put down for the contest....so here we go:

Name: Logan Clark
Email: clarlucky@gmail.com
Title: THE SORCERER'S GUIDE TO PANDORA'S SOUL
Genre: NA Fantasy
Word Count: 125,000

Blurb: Jet Black found something that changed his life forever. It wasn't money, fame or fortune...it was an old forgotten book. At age sixteen it only opened to a single page, one that retold of an ancient fable of pending darkness. Now three years later, it is his only chance to survive. As the second and third pages turn he learns that the book will be his only mentor on the way to becoming a Sorcerer. But he's not the only one with a secret book.

First 250 Words:

He pulled back the curtains and watched the black Taurus turn into the driveway and a measure of Jet’s nervousness blended with excitement. Tonight was going to be the best night of his life, he felt it so deeply. With any luck, it would end with a sweet kiss from Samantha Downs. That would be the first great thing to happen in his life in the last two years. Another round of torture began two weeks ago when a phantom pain tore through his back and dove into his stomach. In Mrs. Johnson’s class he’d been knocked over by the pain, sprawled out on the floor. All his friends, except Samantha, had found it to be the funniest thing to happen since the school year began.

He tore away from the window of Nana’s upstairs bedroom at the sound of the car doors closing. He slid to the bottom of the stairs just as Samantha, her sister, and her parents stepped into the hallway. Samantha wore a dark red dress and her brown eyes sent chills down his arms like ants scurrying excitedly for food. Her eyes first searched the hallway, and when they finally landed on his, the world literally stopped moving. Her golden hair was braided like a princess; he’d never seen her look so enchanting. She was the last of his friends and their families to arrive. Tonight, they were going to enjoy a New Year’s celebration like never before.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Camping Trip to Goblin Valley

It has been a Crazy past few weeks. We've been totally busy with work, family drama, and an awesome campout with friends.

Between the madness, I have been slowly working on another edit of my first manuscript. I went to town on changing the first chapter...again.  I also found some beta readers and they are currently enjoying the work.

I am going to add some photos of our hiking trips.  We were able to go to Goblin Valley in Utah.  It was tons of fun.

 



 

 The Three pictures above are from Goblin Valley. There were hundreds of these cool rock structures all around the park.  If you went searching, like we did, there were a bunch of small caves inside some of the far rock walls.  Two of the three pictures are caves that we found. Some deeper than others.





I wish I had more pictures of this hike that we went on. It was outside of Goblin Valley and the slot caves were simply amazing. Take a look at the next few pictures. It was really a lot of fun. 










What a great time with some great friends. We're already planning our next Camping Trip.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Aren't you glad this isn't your knee

Check out this knee injury from blocking a puck.

You can clearly see the bruising and Inflammation.

This happened as a result of a puck that hit Sami Lepisto during a hockey game a few weeks ago. He plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.


To make things even worse, Chicago was eliminated from the playoffs by the Phoenix Coyotes.

This pictures comes from a tweet that was done by Sami Lepisto himself: "This is why I shouldn't be blocking slap shots!"

Please sure to add a comment if you have had a similar injury!

Monday, May 7, 2012

StoryMakers12 and Jazz Basketball



Just like many of my writing friends - some online friends and a few new friends - I spent the weekend at StoryMakers12. There were a ton of people that I knew that went. It was surprising how different some people look from their online personality. It makes it even more fun.

There was a ton of support from local authors and publishers. There also was a good amount of national editors and agents. We got a little bit of everything. The time and energy spent on the entire conference is astounding. The writing contest, agents, classes, book fair, and a whole bunch of other things was impressive.


I think that everyone goes to a conference with goal in mind. We shoot for the stars hoping to come out with an agent or a better perspective. I've been to a few conferences and I decided to attack this one differently. I wanted to pitch but I felt that I needed to get my editing better under control. Boy was I right.

Editing is a talent that I don't have. I spent a portion of the conference learning more about what to look for and how to become a better technical writer. Better writing means less editing. I also tried to find some contacts that would be helpful. I've come to the realization that I may have to pay someone to edit a few of my manuscripts.

I was also looking for some contacts to set up a writing critique group. This was also highly successful. In addition, I met some authors who are writing very similar stories or categories as myself. We exchanged some contact info. Really, that is the key for me and this conference.

Pitching would have been great, but I am not sure my manuscript is really to that point yet. It's been a process to come to that decision. I think that I've also come to the realization, my first manuscript may be just part of the learning curve. So, this will have to be something I look closer at.

All in all - a pretty good conference.

Later on Saturday - I got a phone call from a good friend.  He had playoff Jazz basketball tickets. What a fantastic way to finish of the night.  Yea me!!

Now...off to some reading from books from the conference

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tearing something down to make it stronger

I am slowly, and I mean slowly learning that its a lot of work to get a book to the stages where someone else will want to look at it.  I've written x 2 manuscripts and in both cases I thought that I was ready to start searching for an agent. And I was. But...not because my manuscripts were ready. But that I needed to learn more about the craft of writing. I need to tear down something and hope it is better in the end.

It took me over 14 months to write my first manuscript. If you didn't know me back then, you'll be surprised to learn that I wrote over 240,000 words. It worked out a funny way that I was sending myself emails and didn't put all the pieces together until the end. I spent the next 12 months editing it down to 148,000.  I thought that I had done a good job. I started querying it. Of course I got rejected like crazy. I kept being told to cut it more.  Ouch.

While I was waiting for those rejections, I started writing my second manuscript. A medical mystery.  This time it took 5 months for around 85,000 words. I worked it, edited, and re-edited it. I am currently querying this masterpiece and am finding out that it isn't such a masterpiece after all. But, the feed back I am receiving is positive. I just need to get a good group of beta readers to trim some pieces.

I've restarted my first manuscript and really went to work on cutting and improving some of the less important things. In the end, I felt most was important, there was just a better way in telling the story. I ended up cutting another 20,000 words and am down to 125,000.  The crazy part is that I changed everything. The title of the book, the names of the character. I tried to get things moving quicker and moved some of the important finds to much sooner in the book. Some parts remained the same. I am completely excited about the changes in the book.

I am about to head off to a couple conference and really get hammered on some of my techniques and especially the first few pages. That is where I really need to get better. I need to get the audience involved much quicker and more efficient.

Writing is far from easy. Well writing well is far from easy. I am just hoping that I am on the right tract.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Besides March Madness...make sure you get a Colonscopy this Month

March is the month where we celebrate for the awareness for colorectal cancer or colon cancer. Colonoscopies are the manner that this cancer is found. Other intestinal problems can also be identified.

More than 55,000 deaths a year are attributed to colorectal cancer. And be sure to remember, this cancer affects women and men. 
Screening


The initial age of screening is 50. More than 85% of colon cancers are found in those above the age of 50. Usually there are no symptoms, at least, no initially. Blood in stool, weight loss, fatigue, and a few other symptoms can be seen.

Screening is the best preventative measure as well as the way to diagnosis cancer. This cancer affects the large bowel.

Cancer in the colon usually begins as a benign polyp. Over time, and were talking years, the polyp could potentially turn into cancer. But it is vitally important to remember that not all polyps will become cancer. That is why routine biopsies or even removal of the polyp is done during the colonoscopy, just to make sure.

The prep is often far worse than the actual procedure. Remember this. You need to avoid food for 24 hours. A medication, in liquid form, helps you get cleaned out.

A special camera is used for the procedure and it examines the colon, large and small intestines. If a polyp is found or there are some tissue that may be concerning, then a biopsy or complete removal of the polyp is easily done.

So, as for the celebration this year, try to schedule a colonoscopy if you over the age of 50 and have never had one before. Or…if it is time for a follow-up procedure.

For any other questions or concerns, contact your medical provider and get it scheduled.

You can also see an InterActive Health look at an actual colonoscopy procedure by clicking - here

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day

This year my wife and I decided to do something different for Valentine's Day. And it made it a great day.  Of course we do the usual, cards and candy for the kids. They wake up and see them on the table and get so excited. My wife made pink pancakes and the kids loved those as well.  I was already at work, but there were leftovers and I had some pancakes this morning. They were still fantastic.

The difference this year was that she came up and met me for lunch. We went to GoodWood BBQ and had a fantastic lunch. But afterwards, we drove a block and bought each others gift. They turned out to be the same gift. This year, instead of flowers and too much chocolate, we got each other iphones.

Over the past year, our droids have been outdated and on the blitz. I would miss phone calls, texts, and messages. She was calling friends when her phone was across the room. We've been looking for the last 3 months and finally decided on the iphone.

Last night while she went to a church meeting, I spend almost 3 hours getting to know my iphone and downloading music. Today, I am much happier about our phone situation and valentine's day turned out fantastic for both of us.   Here's to hoping that your day was just as good!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's Query Time

Well, I'm back from our vacation in Disneyland. More on that later. Two days prior to leaving, I finished another round of Editing for my WIP - Immaculate Conception. The title is growing on me more and more. I do realize, although hesitantly, that I really probably have no control over the title.

I was aiming at around 80,000 words and my final word count ended up being 87,000. The editing process was tricky, but that always seems to be the case with the editing process. Overall, the entire process has been streamlined from my first few experiences at writing and editing.

My work is now out at some beta readers and its growing close to the time to start querying. I've been researching query letters again.  Agent Query or AQ at the webaddress of http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx is a really solid resource. I've also been reviewing Query Shark - another great resource.  http://www.queryshark.blogspot.com/.

Query letters appear to be an art form. Traditional letters are typical and safe, but atypical letters can be abstract, genius, or a complete disaster. I am going to go with Traditional.  I've worked and reworked the last 2-3 weeks on the query letter and I hope that I am getting close.

This is an exciting but nervous time.  I'll let you know more as things get going.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Any guesses on this Skin Disease?

Here is a picture of a very difficult skin condition that is often fatal in infants.

It is characterized by diamond shape scales.

Infants are at highest risk for infections, dehydration, and breathing difficulties.

Improvements in management and treatment have extended the lives of those with this condition.

The Answer is: Harlequin-type ichthyosis

More about this condition is below:

 This is a condition where the skin of an infant becomes thick and scaly.

The change occurs in the keratin layer of the skin.

Large and thick, diamond shaped scales, red in color, can be seen.

The scaly nature of the skin causes the infant to have difficulty with movement and respiration.

It is a very rare condition.

Symptoms:

- Severe cranial and facial deformities
- Ears and nose may be absent or poorly developed
- Ectropion [Everted or outward eyelids]
- Dryness of skin
- Thickening of skin
- Large scales
- Scales can be reddish in color
- Arms, feet, fingers can also be deformed
- Polydactyly - more than the usual number of toes or fingers

Cause:

- Mutation in the gene for protein - ABCA12
- This gene helps regulate healthy skin.
- This mutation can be inherited

Areas of skin affected:

1.) Face
2.) Eyes
3.) Ears
4.) Penis
5.) Extremities
6.) Other

Risk Factors

- Increase chance for infection due to cracks in skin
- Cracked Skin
- Dehydration
- Restricted or difficulty breathing
- Difficulty controlling water loss

Treatment

. Isotretinoin [Isotrex]

- Symptomatic treatment
- Treat Dryness
- Treat Infections