Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I've Done More Than One Fool Thing

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 April Fool's Day has come and gone, yet this month brings to mind  what kind of silly things I've done along the way in my writing career. When I first started out, of course, I was gung ho about writing, and oh, so confident.

 I finished my first book, a romance. It was my turn to read for a critique at my RWA chapter's meeting. I was convinced my book was the best I could ever do. 

 I passed around the required first twenty pages for the members to follow along while I read out loud, then waited to be happily told my pages were fine the way they were. Turns out I was wrong, as my fellow members gently pointed out.

That's when I learned that an abundance of adjectives and adverbs was a no-no, and stories based on coincidences were not believable. Also, too much backstory and narration, and not enough dialogue did not help my cause any. No one said it, but I came to believe that my first book was hopelessly unfixable. I chalked it up to a learning experience, and began another.

After I finished the second book, I excitedly sent out query letters to various publishers and agents. I'd decided to call myself Dana Starr. You'll never guess why, so I'll tell you.

Not only did I insert cute little hearts as part of my stationery letterhead, but in the body of the query letter, I just happened to mention the reason for my pen name. Are you ready for a laugh? I actually wrote that my pen name would make it possible for my books to be placed next to Danielle Steel's on the shelf!

Okay, if you've caught your breath and have stopped laughing, I'll confide that, believe it or not, I've absorbed a few things about writing and marketing since those early days. Still, writing is always a learning experience, so I know I have a lot more to discover.

What about you? Would you like to share a fool thing you've done, either about writing or something else? Please do, or I'll think I'm the only silly one.
Experience the diversity and versatility of Morgan Mandel. Romantic Comedies: Her Handyman, its sequel, A Perfect Angelstandalone reality show romance; Girl of My Dreams.  Thriller: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse,its sequel: the Blessing or Curse CollectionRomantic suspense: Killer CareerMystery:Two Wrongs. Short  and Sweet   Romance: Christmas   Carol.  Twitter:@MorganMandel Websites: Morgan Mandel.Com    Morgan Does Chick Lit.Com.

19 comments :

  1. Oh yeah ... after my first book was published, I told my wife she'd soon be sleeping on silk and I'd be smoking $25 cigars. Weeeeelllll, didn't exactly turn out that way ... she's still sleeping on flannel and I'm picking' up old stogies from the street ... but if you dry them out first, they ain't bad.

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    1. Sleeping on flannel these days can also be expensive!

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  2. Let me think now...overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, information dumps, lots of unnecessary narrative (cut 20,000 words from my first novel), weak first chapter that was rewritten at least half a dozen times. An that's just for starters. It's been a long journey, and I still rely on my astute beta readers to keep me on track. :-)

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    1. Yes, it's amazing how much we can overlook in our own writing, but clearly see in someone else's.

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  3. No conflict, lots of 'fun' scenes, no structure. But I think those are the basics everyone has to learn to deal with, and writing 143,000 words for my first novel (because readers would prefer to get more book for their buck, right), I ended up with about 85K in the published version. The first RWA chapter contest I entered was for the first chapter of the manuscript, so I sent mine. It was all of 6 pages long. Needless to say, I didn't final (although the judges liked what I wrote). I quickly learned that if the rules said "up to 30 pages" then you put scene breaks in where chapter breaks had been and sent them as close to 30 pages as you could get without ending mid-paragraph, or at a 'boring' part.

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    1. Oh, yes, I believe my original book was about 115,000 words, and whittled down turned into about 75,000.

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  4. I've made a fool of myself more ways than I can tell in a blog comment. Let's see the most expensive gaff was last year when I lost my Sleuthfest hotel registration. I called as we were walking out the door and they had no record of it. My heart fell out of my chest. So I booked another room but it had to be in another hotel because our hotel was booked solid. My husband said, "wait, call the hotel again." So I did, and my registration was there, albeit misfiled. Tried to cancel the extra room; couldn't. Left home in such a swivet that I forgot my suitcase. No clothes, not even undies. Not one of my finer moments.

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    1. Well, they lost your registration, not you, Maggie, but forgetting your suitcase, that one's on you. Still, I can see how being so upset would make you not think straight!

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    2. What a great story - you HAVE to write that into a novel. Who could make up something better? :D

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  5. I sent off my first manuscript to a few publishers ... in a decorated box. My naive crafty side said, yeppers this will garner their attention. Needless to say, it was rejected, quickly, as it should have been. It was awful, the box and the book.

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    1. Decorated box - One step further than the hearts on my letterhead. lol

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  6. I done so many stupid things I don't even know where to begin. I began writing before I knew a thing about it...I suppose that was very foolish, because I had to stop writing, and do some studying. But I love How To Books, so that gave me an excuse to buy How To Books.

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    1. I've bought so many how to books, yet haven't read very many of them! I guess I figured somehow I'd learn through osmosis. lol

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  7. Morgan, I did a lot of head-hopping on my first book (that will never see the light of day) but back "in the day" that was a commonly accepted way to write. Like Celia, I've got so many stupid things I've done, the list would be a mile long. I made the mistake of thinking that once an agent had accepted me, publication was only a matter of weeks away. HA! OK, can I just say, there are some very unscrupulous AGENTS out there--and some of them with VERY big names. Great post. I'm glad I'm not alone. LOL
    Cheryl

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    1. Oh, yes, head hopping still goes on. Some authors can actually do it well, but most cant!

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  8. First difficult learning experience for me was submitting a children's book to a big publisher complete with illustrations that took me forever to create. Of course, I got the standard "no illustrations" rejection. I learned lots the hard way back in the 70s and 80s.

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    1. Sounds like a lot of work, but hopefully you were able to use those illustrations somewhere else.

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  9. I think we've all made mistakes. My biggest probably was not knowing that I had to be the one to promote. (This was before the Internet--but no one mentioned to me I should at least be contacting bookstores for signings. I did one in my own neck-of-the woods.)

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  10. Yes, promoting is a necessity these days. We can't rely on anyone to do it for us!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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