Tag Archives: Kyresa

Off to a Conference!

Well, I’m a day away from attending my very first writing conference, and I’m so excited!

In the past weeks I’ve been hyper-focused on my novel, Kyresa. My goal was to have it finalized, edited, and proofed by the conference, so that I could start querying agents the moment I got home. Goal attained! I can now rest easy knowing the creation part is done…and the hard part—marketing—is about to begin.

Bring it!

Tomorrow I will head off for the Cascade Writers Workshop, where I will get to work with several other writers, as well as a handful of editors and agents. Most of the authors attending also write in the fantasy genre, and I expect it will be a great time. (The numerous hilarious emails flying around between group members are starting to confirm my suspicions!) We will be workshopping, critiquing, socializing, and writing as a group, and I’ll also be pitching Kyresa at a formal pitch session. Fun!

Since I still have a gigantic To Do list to tackle before my flight tomorrow (um, starting with PACKING, sort of important…), I’m going to sign off for now. When I return, I’m sure I’ll have tons of stories to share. Can’t wait!

Also next week: I’ll be settling into a more regular blogging schedule again (TBA) and I’ll share my thoughts on Stephen King’s On Writing. I’ll leave you with one word for now: fantastic.

Stay tuned, and have a splendid rest of the week, everyone! 🙂

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How I Edit

You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you.  And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.  ~Arthur Polotnik

An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.  ~Adlai Stevenson, as quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

If I don’t answer my phone today, it’s because I’m editing. Or, I jumped out the window. ~Me
As many of you know, I’ve been on a mission to edit my work in progress, Kyresa. There are some steps left before I can actually call the book “finished,” but I am pleased to announce the editing stage is officially done! Woo hoo!

Editing is a funny thing—it is imperative for crafting a quality piece, but it’s also a grueling, tedious stage that must usually happen several times. While every writer edits, I don’t believe every writer edits in the same manner. Today I thought I’d share the process I used for the most recent edit of Kyresa.

First of all, this last edit was more of an edit/rewrite/edit mashup. I had an idea that I might potentially want to change the ending, but I knew that I couldn’t make that decision until I re-immersed myself in the story. When I started, Kyresa was 111,400 words. That’s about 404 pages, double-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font. I printed it out 2-sided and put it into a binder that I could tote around wherever I went. I armed myself with three goals:

  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.
  • Cut the crap.

Then I set five more goals to work through as I edited:

  • If there’s a simpler way to say it, find it.
  • Lay off the dialogue tags if the speaker is clear. (“You sure do talk a lot, Eva,” THE BLOG READER SAID.)
  • Keep an eye on adverbs, because Mr. Stephen King thinks they’re the devil and he probably knows his devils writing horror and all.
  • Don’t rob the reader of the right to come up with her own image of the person/place/thing by giving too many showing details. (I am a control freak, so over-explanation can happen.) (Like that last parenthetical comment.) (Sorry.)
  • Decide if I want to change the ending. (I wrote a note to myself about 20 pages after where I thought I’d like to end it that said, “Are you feeling an ending change, Eva?”—and yes, this is actually written on the page.)

So, I went through the whole book this way, marking all over it with a variety of pens. Some pages were just a little marked up, and some looked like I had a blue/green/red pen party and just dripped the ink everywhere like a crazy person. And when I made my way to the moment of ending-change decision, I opted to go for it!

This is where the “rewrite” part of the mashup happened. I pulled all the scenes I wanted to delete out of the binder and tucked them in the back, but kept the scenes between that I thought were useful. Then I blared Clannad’s “I Will Find You” two times as theme music before setting off to write the new ending. (I generally do not write to music, but sometimes I will listen to it and run it through my head as I write. Or blurt out singing. Either way works.) I then printed out the new scene and stuck it in the binder, and went back to fix the story where necessary to accommodate my new ending. This involved a lot of scrap paper hole punched and stuck in where appropriate, and lots of lines written over entire margins. I also seriously edited my new scene, since it was freshly written and needed some heavy tuning.

Once I got to the last page, I started to tear up. In fact, I get teary-eyed every time I get to the end of this book. (This means either it’s moving or I’m a complete sap, only time will tell.)

After that, I watched a movie and then cleaned up my office (please reference Clean Space, Fresh Perspective for more info on this, and if you’re feeling a tad more voyeuristic, you can learn about and see what my office space looks like in a guest post I did here), but from then on it was business. I proceeded to enter all the changes into the computer. This took a loooonnnggggg time (days), because along the way I found other little changes, and of course I did all of this knowing there were more to come. Over and over again. And again.

After the changes were in, Kyresa was down to about 101,000 words—I’d say half of this was due to the ending change and the other half to my aforementioned goals. But I still wasn’t done!

Now came the “find and replace” (F&R) game.

I did this with every word I’d noticed as an overused word when I edited, and with others I found through the SmartEdit software I mentioned in my last post. I searched for repeated actions (sighing, for example), passive voice (was, were, to be) and for words we humans tend to overuse without realizing (that, so, few, really, very, just, even, like, and many others). Changing these words didn’t always entail deleting or the simple use of the “replace” function; sometimes the whole sentence needed restructuring. In addition, I went through Every.Single.Adverb that SmartEdit recorded and evaluated its purpose, and ran the dreaded F&R one more time for the word as (which, by the way, I am now seeing everywhere, and it makes me want to throw things).

All of this cut Kyresa way down in unnecessary wordage—to 93,400 words, as a matter of fact!

(Oh my gawd I said “as” and I think I’m going to scream!)

After that, I did a happy dance. This was both to celebrate and to cheer me up, because every time I did the F&R function I went from the beginning to the end of the novel—meaning there were a lot of teary eyes again. Geez…

Lastly, I ran a spellcheck and a computer-version of proofread (which is hilarious for a fantasy novel, by the way: Wench. “Sexist expression. Avoid using this word.”), printed it out, and set it aside for a few days to stew before I proofread it for any glaring grammatical errors, typos, or other oddities that need cutting.

Another thing of note—and I want to mention this because I think it’s important no matter what you’re writing, be it a book, some poetry, or a paper for school—I resave about every 10 minutes, and each day I save the file with a new name. “Kyresa(updated 7-1-12),” then “Kyresa(updated 7-2-12),” etc., so that I can always go back if I change my mind on cutting a scene. And though I have a backup drive, I also email the file to myself every few days (because a backup drive is no good if your house burns down).

Sooooo…there you have it, my editing process. 🙂

Now I’m curious: what’s yours? Please share in the comment section below! I’m sure many of you have some great ideas that the rest of us would like to [steal] know about! Thanks for sharing, and happy editing!


Hacksaws, FRINGE, and Some Darn Good Books

One of the upsides to my current once-a-week blog schedule is that I’m finding myself stocked up on things to talk about! Picture me as the little kid with my cheeks poofed, holding my breath all week long to say something… 🙂

First item: Hacksaws

A hacksaw would be the metaphorical utility I’m using to edit the crap out of Kyresa. Somehow I’m still working on it (!), but I’m having a good time. I noticed at some point that Kyresa had started sighing too much. They say some of your traits appear in your characters, and I’m a sigher in real life—less because I’m a romantic than because I tend to over-analyze and think too hard—but this is clearly not an acceptable trait for a powerful, immortal Queen. Nope, nope, nope. So, we had a long pep talk, and now she’s a much stronger character. Phew!

I’d also like to share this nifty editing software my friend passed along, SmartEdit, which helps you track overused words, phrases, adverbs, etc. You name it, this program will find your errors and blow your mind with your redundancies. The catch? It only runs on PCs. I myself run on a Mac platform, but fortunately my netbook is a PC, so after a few file transfers…boom! I learned that my real-life tendency to smile all the time is getting a little old in my characters. “Find and replace” is currently my best friend, and I’m delighted to report that so far, between an ending change, some general cleanup, and my recent obsession with tightening up my manuscript, I’ve cut Kyresa from 111,400 words down to 98,400! I’m not done yet, but I’m thrilled with this progress. THRILLED.

Second item: FRINGE

I am fairly intrinsically motivated, but I like a good reward on occasion. My latest “gift” has been one episode of Fringe a night after I reach my editing quota. At 22 episodes per season and four episodes to catch up on, you might imagine this has taken me an extraordinarily long time—it has! But it’s been such a great reward, and now I can’t wait for the fifth and final season to start in the fall!

If you haven’t checked out this incredibly intelligent Sci-Fi series, please do. I’ve talked to a couple people who said they started but couldn’t get into it, and it’s my belief that Fringe takes a few (read: four or five) episodes to get completely sucked in—unless you’re a Sci-Fi person, in which case I suspect you’ll be in by Episode 2. Fringe follows the FBI’s Fringe Division, a super secret department responsible for solving unusual and otherworldly cases. They might involve radically unknown toxins, strange disasters, shape shifters and DNA mutations, telepathy, or even trips to another universe! In fact, there’s a whole element of this other universe flowing beautifully through Fringe, and it’s quite fascinating. What’s thrilling about this show is that it’s not just about the Sci-Fi elements (which are indeed spectacular) but also about the dynamic between the four main characters. Anna Torv plays Olivia Dunham, a uniquely talented FBI agent who partners with an offbeat genius scientist, Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and his wickedly clever son, Peter (played by Joshua Jackson). Jasika Nicole plays Astrid Farnsworth, a big-hearted FBI agent who assists Walter in his research. Walter and Peter Bishop have a touching father-son relationship, which is complicated by a serious faux-pas Walter committed in the past. It is this very faux-pas that creates many of the Sci-Fi elements of the series (that I cannot describe without giving away the geniusness of this show), and which forces them to work through several definite tangles. Meanwhile, Astrid and Walter have a kind closeness, sharing some really lovely moments as she helps him—a once-committed, wild scientist—work through the cases. Anna Torv as Olivia is the most complex of all; she’s a strong agent who works through the cases with ease, but she must also shuffle through the trauma of her youth which makes her so essential to these cases. At first she comes off a bit flat, but as you go through the series—wow. Her range proves to be completely astounding as the story unfolds. As-tound-ing!

Add a little romance, some good special effects, and a bit of clever dialogue to these stellar characters and you have one of my favorite shows of all time. The only negative thing I can say is that the show ends after season 5. Boo!

Third Item: Darn Good Books

I finished a book and started a book this week. Currently, I’m about 100 pages into Stephen King’s On Writing, and it’s great. I can’t wait to share more after I’m done!

The book I finished is preparation for the fall semester, when I become the Math-English teaching hybrid. (I feel a Sci Fi story here. Truly.) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon is well-written and sweet, and narrated by Christopher John Francis Boone. Christopher is an autistic teen who leads you through his investigation of the “curious incident,” one that also happens to carry through the relationship between him and his father, as well as the connection between his parents. Christopher is an intelligent young man, and Haddon’s portrayal of his eccentricities is pure brilliance. Haddon worked with autistic individuals in his past, and his empathy shows on every page. Christopher is lovable, clever, and detailed, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in his adventure. It’s also a great experience to follow the mind of someone in his shoes—it really makes you reevaluate the way you look at the world. I highly recommend it!

All right, the little girl pushed her fingers into her cheeks, expelling all the intel she’d held for the week for this one information-packed blog post! 😉 Now time for some more editing.

Hacksaw at the ready!


The Inevitable Blog Time-Out!

I woke up this weekend with a blaring realization: I’ve been sitting on the last 140 pages of my book’s final edit for about three weeks now.

Okay, so I wasn’t exactly purposely delaying. The last two weeks of the school year were more akin to a semi-truck smashing into my life than a gentle version of cruise control, and then of course last week I needed to take some “chill time” to transition into summer (see: The Readathon). Then came some serious errand and housecleaning time, and a quality weekend with my adorable niece (you may remember her as the Most Adorable Niecey On the Planet). All of this had to happen, but—yes, there’s a but—a little finger tapped me on the shoulder and drew me back to reality.

“Hey you,” I heard. “Remember me? Your book? The whole reason you started this blog in the first place?”

I tried to ignore it initially, but it just kept tapping—sweet little Kyresa, waiting impatiently for that one last edit to finally be done…

Which leads me directly to the inevitable blog time-out. For now I need to focus on this last edit of Kyresa. I’m simply too close to not put it at the top of the priority list. Don’t worry—my parents assure me I came out of the womb talking, and that I haven’t stopped ever since, so it would be impossible for me to cut out completely! I’ll probably just come a-knockin’ once a week instead of two or three times each week. I also don’t expect this will be for long—it’s only 140 more pages, after all!

In the meantime, my e-newsletter will be launching a little later in the month (after I finish editing); if you haven’t already signed up for it, now’s the time! The e-newsletter will contain updates on news, publications, and in time, appearances, and you will receive it no more than once a month.

To receive the e-newsletter, please send a blank email to: EvaRieder-subscribe@yahoogroups.comYou will receive a confirmation email with instructions shortly after. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don’t see it within a few hours.) If you have a Yahoo account, you can also go directly to the group to join on-site by clicking here. Please join! You can unsubscribe at any time.

All right folks, a giant thank you to all of you for reading and following along. Wish me luck on my final edit, and I’ll be back next week!

🙂


What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

—From Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

I’ve been editing my WIP, Kyresa, for the last time (and yes, I really mean it!). Since it is a fantasy book, it has a collection of unusual names, as do many of the books I read in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Add to that my plethora of friends with wildly interesting names, and I got to thinking—what’s in a name?

Parents often spend months coming up with a suitable list of names for their soon-to-be-born, one that will need to stick with the child as she grows up, takes on her own unique traits, and eventually becomes who and what she is as a person. So how is it that parents pick the perfect name?

And in a similar manner, how is it that we, as authors, pick our characters’ names?

We almost have an easier task, I think: we have a vision for a character, a set of traits, experiences, and journeys already in mind as we set about to write, and from this we can choose a name to match. Sometimes, we may already know the name in advance—and like the choosing of a baby name before parents know anything about their child, somehow, the name tends to fit. (And if it doesn’t, we can always change it later without the hassle of legal paperwork. Thank goodness!)

When I write, I usually have a vision of a character and then suddenly the name just comes out on paper. I really can’t explain how this happens—I see the character doing A, B, or C, and start typing, and then suddenly said character’s name is right there, typed in front of me. Usually, the name sticks. If nothing’s called to me immediately, the name will be a placeholder. I won’t lie—[the chick], [sassafras], and [what’s his face] have been used as temporary holds before. 🙂 Still, it’s generally pretty rare for me to not feel the rush of a suitable name. Even rarer is a name change—Kyresa actually underwent a slight change a year ago, requiring me to undo over a decade of pronouncing her name the old way as I talked about her character. That was tough. But tougher was finding a new name for a character I’d known so long. (Envision post-its with different spellings of names all over the house for a month and you’ve nailed the experience.)

Since I usually feel the name as I write, I suppose that explains how parents can look at their newborn and know the name they’ve chosen is the right one. So I’m curious—how do you pick names for your characters? Do you flip through baby books, or keep a catalog of names alphabetically? Do you sound out syllables until they match the feeling you have for the character? Or, do you simply drop them on the page like I do, changing them only if they conflict with your vision of the character?

Please feel free to share your methods in the comment section below. Whether it be for baby names or character names, how do you smell a rose? 🙂


KYRESA Gets (One Last) Makeover…and a Conference!

Just a short posting today.

I’m happy to report that in addition to my five fabulous beta readers—you may remember them previously referred to as A, B, E, W, and Z—Kyresa has now also gained one more reader: a real live editor!

While visiting a friend a couple of weekends ago, I discovered that her family member did editing work and also had some publishing experience. We got to talking, and she offered to read my work in progress.

A few days later, she made some suggestions on a portion that I found not only helpful to Kyresa, but also to my writing in general. Some “fine tunings,” if you will. It took a mere two minutes for me to realize this was an excellent opportunity, and now “P” has been added to my roster of wonderful readers (the initials A, B, E, P, W, and Z are now really starting to cover the whole alphabet, from A to Z!). I’m very excited to work with her, as well as to implement the final touches on Kyresa before I start sending the book out to agents this summer.

In addition, I am thrilled to share that I just registered for my first writing conference! Though it is a few months away, the Cascade Writers Workshop will be a great opportunity—there I will meet and network with fellow fantasy authors, editors, and agents, as well as further hone my craft in several workshops. Needless to say, I am now eagerly anticipating the summer.

Alas, it is a long way off…in the meantime, I have a few other pieces I’m working on, and am also in the process of submitting some of my short stories to literary journals. I will continue to update my blog with writerly news as time goes on.

Stay tuned in the next few days; in my next posting I will share my undying adoration for a particular author of my youth…

🙂


What Are You Writing Right Now?

Recently I’ve received a few emails inquiring on the status of my novel-in-progress, Kyresa, as well as any other writing I might be doing. I figured I’d provide a quick update for those of you who are following.

After numerous revisions and edits, Kyresa is now in the hands of my five treasured beta readers, who I will fondly refer to as A, B, E, W, and Z. (As a writer, I’m inclined to note that my readers run from A to Z! And thanks A, B, E, W, Z for all your help!) While they are hard at work giving the novel one last go-round, I am in the process of researching and selecting potential agents to represent my work. I’m also working on my “elevator pitch”—that clever, necessary, and useful blurb describing your book in just a few sentences, should you ever be trapped on an elevator or similar thirty-second scenario with an editor or agent of your dreams. It seems like such a simple endeavor, and yet, condensing an entire book and the fantasy realm it encompasses into just a few sentences is actually quite challenging. I’ve come up with a few tentative possibilities so far, so I’m almost there…or will be, once I merge all three emails in my inbox and five post-its on my dashboard together into one nice, clean statement!

Meanwhile, I am also researching literary journals and anthologies for two short stories: “Circubus,” a supernatural fantasy piece, and “Mounds,” a contemporary/mainstream work. I’ve found a few great places for “Circubus” and just sent it to my first choice magazine—cross your fingers! I will be focusing on homes for “Mounds” over the next week.

Once those are out, I will be continuing my work on the second draft of another novel, as well as toying with two prospective short story concepts. All three items are definitely in their very early stages, but I’m excited about them. These will temporarily be put on hold when Kyresa comes back from the fantastic A, B, E, W, Z squad, so that I can wrap up the novel and start to send it out into the world…

Like many things we do in life, it’s all a process. Fortunately, it’s a very enjoyable one! 🙂


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