I have a stupid problem: I have too many ideas for books.
Before you cuss me out or throw things, think about it this way: I have ideas, but that doesn’t mean I have a book. Sometimes I start writing all excited, then I get to page 11 and I’m like “well, that was fun, what happens next??? Oh right, I don’t know.”
I’m having a hard time focusing on one project. I have my trilogy, but I’m also inspired to work on another MS. However, I also really want to get published so I should edit that first book in the trilogy. Oh, but what about this cool idea. I should write that first. (And so on.) It’s strangely frustrating. It’s nice having options since I can’t write without being inspired, however I want to work on editing my trilogy versus starting another book.
Again, it’s a stupid problem.
Part of the issue I think is that I’ve spent so much time editing the first book in the trilogy I’m getting sick of it. I’ve queried but I’m taking a break to get some feedback on the opening and work on the synopsis. I think it’s improved, but i don’t want to burn out all of the agents I want to query before it’s where it should be. I have the query, it’s solid, but I don’t want to keep sending it out if the material still needs a little extra something.
I want to be motivated to edit this trilogy since I have a history of abandoning projects. I’m so far down the road I know I won’t abandon it, however it’s been a while since I’ve looked at it. Every time I try to edit I keep skimming and getting nothing done. I’m waiting to hear from one more person on the book, hopefully then I’ll have enough feedback to put in the final touches and start sending it out again.
So remember my last post about getting the “itch” to write again? Well….I may have finished another book already!
It’s short, only about 25,500 words, but I think it’s for 5th-6th graders so the length may be just right. I’m sure there’s more to add to it for detail and so I’ll be looking for a critique partner after the holiday. It has a whole plot line and everything! It started with a small idea, and then I just kept wanting to work on it. The monster was creepy, the heroine geeky, and, naturally, the dragon was awesome! It was so much fun to put together and I’m excited to see where it goes.
I’m really excited about this new book and the break it gave me from my series. While I still love my series and the main character, looking at it over and over with little positive feedback from agents was getting me discouraged. Taking a break and actually writing helped clear my head. I can come back to the series a little fresher and maybe see some things to improve or at least get up the courage to start writing again.
Another inspiration I found was from an SCBWI article the other day about the author Kate DiCamillo. She wrote Because of Winn Dixie and Tale of Despereaux among others. Her first book about the dog Winn Dixie won a Newbery Honor Award, but she collected 470 rejection letters before it published! If that doesn’t get a writer inspired to keep going I don’t know what will.
Since the last post I’ve received about 5 more rejection letters. One person asked for the first 20 pages, but she read a bit and said it didn’t have the “spark” she was looking for. One person had a lovely rejection letter that at the end said:
“Also remember that sometimes, writers endure long terms of rejection before they find the winning combination for themselves. They refused to give up, as I hope you will continue to do.”
That was nice. It was a cookie-cutter rejection letter, but this agent understands the struggle and was sincere about it. Many people do give up and I can see why. It’s hard getting rejections on a project I’ve worked so hard on with a character I love. My skin isn’t as thick as I want it to be. The rejections are getting a little easier, but it’s also hard to think someone will ask for a partial and then really like it. That’s the dream, but it’s hard to imagine when my MS isn’t sparkly enough for the agents who’ve seen it.
I’ve spent several weeks meekly picking at my MSs. I have the first 2 books written in my series–I’m trying to publish the first one–and I have no idea what to do with the third book. I’m not the kind of writer who can force myself to write. I need inspiration, something to fix, or some kind of itch to add and see what happens. That itch hasn’t existed since I started querying. I’ve been editing which is good. It gives me something tangible to improve without needing to think of a new idea out of nothing. I like editing. It’s easier to work on something that’s already there and improve it than think of the whole book in the first place sometimes.
Last night, however, I got the itch. An idea crept from somewhere in my brain and I had an idea. It’s a new book, not part of the trilogy, but still related to dragons (of course). Lucky for me, the baby I nanny for napped plenty today so I wrote over 3,000 words! It’s the most I’ve written in one day in a long long time. I’m still figuring out the details of the book, but it’s nice to get into a new character and some new plot twists. It’s like buying a new dress after you’ve worn your others a few times.
I’m excited to get started on this new book, but I do worry about straying too far from my series. In the past I’ve dropped projects and then taken years getting back to them, if I get back at all. I’m hoping this new book is like a cleanse to get the writing flowing. I can keep querying agents but also avoid staring at my finished MS and driving myself crazy! I’m hoping a new idea will get me excited about writing again. So far today it’s been just what I needed.
It’s been waaaaay too long since I’ve returned to my blog. Thank you for coming back and reading! I’m hoping to be back more often.
I’ve been focusing on writing Charley’s Dragons so much I’ve grinded to a halt. The book is “done” in terms of story, but it’s still very short to qualify for a YA novel. I’ve been going through it adding bit by bit, but I’ve learned that I’m great at cutting and not as great adding! I took a break from writing for a couple weeks (being sick also encouraged my novel-neglect) and I decided it was time to write something else to help get my creative juices flowing.
I went back to a middle grade novel I started a year ago and re-acquainted myself with the story and my badass main character. It’s another fantasy (surprise surprise) yet the main character is my favorite part of this manuscript. She’s determined, strong, and speaks her mind–even when it gets her in trouble. Honestly, I’m using her as a vehicle to vent my frustrations with women’s rights, but she’s fun and exciting.
When I returned to my MG novel (Book One of a trilogy I think) I had the first part and the last part written with a huge gap to fill. Even though I had trouble adding to Charley’s Dragons, I’ve been writing profusely with Book One. The gap is filling nicely and I’m getting into my other characters and having fun world-building.
Yesterday I decided to check the word count for Book One and it’s at 34,000 words, right in the sweet spot for MG fiction. I still have to fill in the gap, but my MS is at novel length! I’m very excited to be so close to finishing another book. Of course it will need to go through extensive editing, but editing is fun. (Sometimes writing is harder than the editing!)
I’m getting back into a writing-groove and I hope that stays true for my blog as well! Even though I want to finish Charley’s Dragons, I know that the best thing a writer can do for her novel is to put it in a drawer for several weeks. Once I’m at a good stopping point for Book One I’ll return to Charley’s Dragons with fresh eyes and a better idea of what the MS needs.
I’ve really been slacking on advertising The Healing Pool lately. With graduation, moving, new job, and life in general, I got a little distracted. However, since I’m working part-time I have time to read. Yesterday I finished the book 250 Ways to Promote Your Book by Patricia Fry. I’ve read her books before on publishing and I like her style. She’s honest and realistic, but is also reassuring that as long as I keep up with marketing I will be successful. She is a great reminder of how much work needs to go into each book, and that push has gotten me excited again.
The one flaw I found with Fry’s book was that most of her suggestions were geared towards non-fiction book. Tips like selling your cat book at a pet store or doing a cooking demonstration for a cook book. As a middle grade fantasy author I need to find fantasy places to get into. I’m thinking about trying to get a table at a comic con or perhaps doing a book sale at a comic store? I know The Healing Pool is not a comic book, but I’m trying to think of as many ideas as I can about where my book can fit in. Especially since my characters are not traditional fantasy characters (ie. no dragons, dwarves, or fairies etc.)
I’ve written several times that I am a “shameless advertiser” and that part of me is coming back. While I’m having trouble getting into things now to advertise I’m doing my best to plan ahead. I took Fry’s advice and decided to invest in promotional material. I ordered some new business cards and 3 different styles of buttons to give away at book signings and such. I’m getting excited! Now all I need to do is make positive connections and get my name out there.
I am running into a conundrum. I have finished my second manuscript and I am sending it out for people to read, but I am having second thoughts. The book is about a child who is experiencing hallucinations where she goes to another land and talks to dragons. At the moment I have her diagnosed as a child with schizophrenia, but I am afraid that I will be overstepping too many boundaries. As someone who has not personally experience that level of mental illness I know that the sections of the book that follow the girl in first person will be inaccurate. I thought I would be able to sell the book as a very fictionalized take. Now I am not so sure.
I know that fiction requires risk taking, but I think this one might be a little too far. I’m having several people look at the MS right now–a few have physiology degrees or work with people with mental illness–but I have not spoken directly with individuals who have schizophrenia. I have not heard back from those who are reading the book now. I’m sure that they will like aspects of the book but who knows! I am probably WAY off and need to take the story in a different direction. I am eager to hear what they say about the MS. I am always looking to improve my storytelling, and if I need to find a way around the diagnosis then I will.
My latest plan for adjusting the book is to end the story before a definitive diagnosis is ever reached. Throughout the book there is dialog with the girl and her psychiatrist so she is getting some attention in that regard. Looking back on the book, naming a mental illness is going a little far. I think leaving the diagnosis to the imagination of the reader might help me not worry about making a whole population of people angry! I am curious to hear what feedback I get to see what else can be improved upon to making the story work. I also need to figure out if this story is for mature YA or adult fiction. It is skating many iffy lines at this point!
Has anyone else run into big issues like this? Anyone have second thoughts on a story or character that they worked through or decided to put away?
Doing a little post-holiday writing. The next couple books feature dragons and Fafner wanted to give me some inspiration!