Covering all the details

My blog page has changed somewhat, I now have a picture that I did with photo booth (believe it or not) and PhotoShop. The theme changed as well I hope it is an improvement, — I think so. I am covering all the details I need to be as professional as I can in the process of getting my novel published. Since I am a first time novelist, I need to have an online presence. I was able to link my name.com to the schemeweaver.com blog site, so when an agent googles my name it will come up whereas schemeweaver never would.

Another area I needed to cover was winning contests, which you cannot do if you don’t enter. So I officially entered my first contest this morning at 1am. My short story “Driven to Listen” complete at 3,058 words was a WIP and when I realized that the deadline was 7/15 not 7/18 I had to step it up a bit. It was almost there just needed a little tweaking and I shared it with Catherine, who got a cameo in the story actually — she’s the heroine. So I thank her over and over, she really is my go-to person, a great sister.

I have also entered a 24hr contest which starts this Saturday, I am really excited about that one. I have always worked well under pressure and this will be a challenge. I will blog the outcome of that as well.

My biggest endeavor is the WDC 2015 in NYC at the end of this month. I have a pitch session, which I am practicing for, several workshops and networking. It’s all about my novel “Woven In Time” a Historical Faction Epic Family Saga which takes place in the Eighteen Century in A Multi-Cultural – International setting, complete at 130,000 words.

I am planning to enter another contest in the Fall with my “Tea Room” story which is a Historical Fiction, Eighteenth Century story about the cloistering of five princesses in a Royal Palace complete at 17,000 words.

So far I have not planned ahead for any of my stories. I had pretty good first drafts on all my stories so far, but I am not against trying something new. I also battled around the idea of a screenplay, I have been told that my writing is so vivid that my stories should be written as a screenplay. The novelist maintains complete control over its characters, setting descriptions, clothing, hair and eye color decisions. The screenplay  is a collaboration of several different people; director, producer, and the actor who adds his creative input.

Covering all the details also includes all areas of social media.

Follow your leads

I recently posted a quote that I truly identified with. It was “I was a not a writer to begin with, I was a listener. The quote came through a twitter feed and it stayed with me, until I thought I would claim it … it is true for me too. Erskine Caldwell (I googled him) was born in 1903 and lived in Georgia and wrote about the harsh life in the south during the Depression. His book “Tobacco Road” is on my wish list to read, I understand it is pretty raw but I intend to read it.

He was born six years before my father and lived to be eighty – three. He was handsome and married four times from what I’ve read so far. My curiosity is peaked. I can relate to his life because my own parents lived in that time frame. Erskine Caldwell was involved in WWII and when he came home he settled in California.

I too, was a listener before I was a writer. My mother had stories to tell, and as I mentioned before in earlier blogs —  I believed she should write a book. I listened to her stories, over and over and when she grew old I listened to them until the breaking point when I said “Tell me something I haven’t heard. You must have something else, you couldn’t have told me everything.”

My first novel has a lot of the stories my mother shared with me and I was pleased how I was able to relate a girl from the 18th century to a girl from the roaring twenties. I had contemplated that for a long time. She had the talent to write, she lived in an exciting time, and she led a colorful life. My mother was born in 1919 but I doubt she ever did the “Texas Tommy”. She passed in 2002 at eighty  -three years. She told me just before she died “You will miss my stories when I am gone.” I guess I did get a little exasperated toward the end, but my response was “I’ll miss you, but not your stories — they are burned in my memory.” Perhaps deep down in side I knew I would be using the information she shared with me to add believability to my stories.

If my book ever does get published I will be able to share the moments in the book that is insider information that was amazingly transformed to a different place and time. It make me “giddy” when I think about how it worked out. Catherine, my sister, picked them out right away, of course — she heard the stories too.

My own life story has some very interesting parts that I could possibly translate in the zombie apocalypse alien abduction story I am contemplating writing next.

Daily Dose

I spent a good portion of my night last night listening to a very helpful webinar hosted by Writer’s Digest. The topic was “How to Hook an Agent with Your Query Letter by Sara Megibow. Sara was a very good moderator and spoke at length on how important the query letter is. When I first considered the need to write a query I read some advice about not rushing through the process and take time for it to evolve. I did that and still was way off.

My queries have certainly evolved and as I mentioned before I put hope in my first rejection that my queries were getting a little closer to what it needs to be in order to be read and stand out from the thousands of submissions received each week. The professionalism of the query reflects the professionalism of your manuscript and a secondary mission (but just as important) to the writing, is the business aspect of selling your book.

The agent is all about the business of selling books and the quality of the query gives the agent confidence that you are ready to forge ahead with the business end of your creation. The log-line (the one sentence explanation of your book) is what the agent may use to present the project to the editor or publisher and needs to be unique and “sparkly” (no actual glitter) to get the attention of those making the money decisions.

Back in the day when I was a graphic artist and the boss came in with several Mac’s and desktop publishing I would have run out the door (some people did) if I had enough sense to realize the scope of changes that were about to hit the industry. That is how I feel about writing my first novel, there is a lot of information out there that may curtail your enthusiasm for writing. However, ignorance is bliss and I forged ahead only realizing after the fact, that the story is only part of it. Of course I am glad that I have the novel under my belt and I am now facing the daunting task of getting it read and eventually published.

Right now my online presence is inadequate, I need a website that can be found by using a search for my name which is all the agents have to find you by. This blog doesn’t have my name in the url, so I would recommend that you don’t make the same mistake because now I have to figure out how to keep this blog going while getting credit for doing it under my own name. Simply pointing my name.com to this site may be a quick fix.

I have entered a contest that has a twenty-four hour turn around time frame, the info (prompt, word count, etc.) will be downloaded when I sit to write. I am looking forward to the challenge, I think it will be fun. I am also considering submitting my third story to a contest that ends this Saturday as well, I am working toward that goal but I am unsure wether my story will be complete by the deadline.

Sometime when I sit to blog I have no idea of what will come out, that is usually the easiest blogging to do, when there is a specific subject then the planning can be cumbersome — details and such.

Keep those comments coming, I enjoy hearing from you.

A Novel Conversation

I started this blog to navigate the unknown world of writing and getting published. I am sure my knowledge now is a little more astute than it was when I started out. I have just sent out my eighth submission, this was a little different that all previous submissions. There was a form to fill out and a single page attachment was requested in a pdf format. There were also questions “What was the last book you read?”, “Who inspired you the most to write?” and my favorite “What is your favorite sentence in the sample chapters you are sending?” That last one made me smile and recall the instant that sentence came through my brain and spilled out onto the page. I had several in mind but only one was isolated, meaning it didn’t need the conversation between two characters to make the point succinct.

I did get an auto response shortly after submitting my work and a note explaining how it can take up to three months to be confirmed. So my previous “assumption” that after one month with no reply is just a good as a NO, may be incorrect, I may have to take that back.

I am still under the TEN submissions rule so I may send out two more and then wait till August 28 to send out more (hopefully I will have heard from someone by then).

I have now written two books and have started a third. This one will be different, it’s a Memoir and I am not familiar with the rules for that genre — there are always rules.

In the Tea Room story I enjoyed the diary entries, it was a chance to write first person and see the world from a different perspective, while at the same time being omnipotent and having all the answers, unless of course one of the characters refuses to do what you expected they would.

Jay, my very understanding and supportive husband, helped me with my ninety-second pitch. He does radio and knows a lot about squeezing a pound of information into an ounce of space. My query had morphed down into a synopsis type spiel, when one of my recent query submissions requested just a book jacket type description of the manuscript. Not so good for the query but good for the pitch, I need to go back to the drawing board to re access my understanding of the query and the synopsis.

Again, I go back to my earlier musings wondering if anyone is interested in my inner thoughts but at least if I am not standing in front of you can choose not to read it.

I saw this great quote I will try to find it to give credit were credit is due but it went something like this.

“I was never a writer, but always a good listener.”

I FOUND IT!

I was not a writer to begin with; I was a listener. ERSKINE CALDWELL

 

 

Write something everyday

I have never felt that what I had to say was important, but lately I have been driven, and if you pay attention there are stories going on all around us — all the time. You only have to have the desire to pick up on it, and pick up a pen. I am surely driven, since writing my first novel I have been compelled to continue writing. Now instead of boring one person at a time, I am boring (hopefully not) an entire world, all at once!

Trying to fit into the exclusive world of writers, I reason that I’ve written — some. Letters to teachers, post-it notes, e-mail to friends, etc. are forms of writing, no? The most legitimate writing I have done in all seriousness, is the letters to the birth mother of my two adopted children. That has to be one of the most soul – searching writing ever done by anyone, and there are a lot of us out there that have done so. I was definitely driven.

Driven also, by the desire to have every opportunity for my child, and driven by the intense desire to  “burst out” in this stage of  my life. I accepted the commitment of driving my daughter to the internship she was offered at a community theater, forty minutes away. The hours are tentative; depending on the schedule, success of the rehearsals, and the structural soundness of the set design. I ended up spending several full days “camping out” in the “quirky but quaint” little town nestled in the hills.

I thought the time would be useful to work on a log – line for my novel that I am planning to pitch in the near future. Fortunately, the small community has a library that is open twenty hours a week. I do have a lot of time on my hands in which to blog, adjust my manuscript and work on the ever-changing query letter.

The Tea Room (FRP part twenty-two)

Vasilly roamed the hallways at the Palace as if he were looking for someone, he had lost his credibility and was ignored by Katrina. He tried to get on the good side of the former Tsarina but that was getting him nowhere as well. The General that had taken Katrina.s interest was now at the same status as Vasilly — former lover and yesterday’s news. Vasilly had to do something to get back into the graces of the Royal Family. Vasilly had remembered the hidden hallways and tried to learn quick and easy entry and exit strategies. His drinking and womanizing had also taken a hit, but his attack on Irina was regretful. Had he really been reduced to such a letch by Katrina’s callousness toward him?

Ludmilla was on one of her many ventures into the catacombs of the Royal Palace when she thought she head footsteps she froze in place, she had never encountered anyone before. She had begun to think that it was her own secret domain. She waited for what seemed to be forever until she felt it was safe to continue.

Sophia was sleeping a lot more lately and Ludmilla feared that Sophia would loose her battle for life. As she put those thoughts to rest she turned to see the form of a man standing in front of her. Ludmilla shrieked and turned, dropped her lantern and was immediately plunged into darkness.

“Please stop princess, you’ll fall and hurt yourself, please allow me to share my lantern and get you safely back to your rooms.”

Ludmilla opted to be sensible and allow help from this stranger with the pleasant voice. The tall dark shadow walked toward her as she tuned to welcome his light into her darkness. She didn’t notice the red of his uniform until they entered through the back chamber of the Tea Room.

Vasilly wasn’t sure Ludmilla would recognize him — she did not, she was never curious enough to notice the winning smile, this time however  she did. She blushed and thanked the handsome officer for assuring her safe return. He bowed and left.

When Ludmilla visited Sophia she was awake and she shared her adventure in the passageway that wasn’t a story she had to imagine. Ludmilla took to reading the stories of Dobrynya Nikitich, the brave knight, and his lady who stoically awaited his return.

“Which one was it? Didn’t you ask his name? Sophia asked.

“No I was so caught off guard I didn’t think to ask.

“Maybe next time you won’t drop your light and talk to him instead.” Sophia said yawning.

Ludmilla shut Sophia’s chamber door and went to her corner of the room when the door burst open and Katrina burst in with their mother.

“Is he up here? Is Vasilly up here with you?” Katrina stormed around the Tea Room certain she would find the errant Streltsy Guard like a bee floating around the blossoms.

“No” Ludmilla technically wasn’t lying. ” No one has been in the Tea Room, I just said good night to Sophia I was completely alone until you arrived.”

“He’s not here Katrina called to the Commander who remained outside the room, out of view.

With that they turned to leave.

“You should visit more often.” Ludmilla quipped as she shut the door behind them

She reached for the Atlas and sat to write, all of a sudden she didn’t want to see her hero vanquish th dragon. Despite all the death and destruction she felt sorry for her lonely beast. If she’s writing it she can do it, right?

The decision to send the boys and their leaders to the Crescent marsh lands at Kittridge proved to be a mistake, the Swedish army was reported to be heading that way for a final showdown in a battle that had been raging for several months. The sudden movement after long months of what seemed to be indecision was not planned for. The boys would be moved back to the Capitol City and the freshly trained and well-equipped Russian army would advance. Pietro refused to leave and some of his closer friends demanded to stay by his side. The marshy land and excess snow made for difficult conditions, supplies and shelter would determine the outcome of this battle.

When Fordham welcomed the boys back he fumed when he realized kirill and Pietro weren’t amongst them. He set out with Sergeant  Menchovick while Uri Piolotsky stayed behind. Irina did her best to be outside to see the arrival of the Kittridge contingent return. Sergeant  Menchovick was conspicuously absent and she made it to her destination with no trouble.

Disheartened she returned to the scullery and poured her heart out to Mage, the cook, who turned out to be a good listener and friend.

 

My Novel Rejection

I was happy to see the e-mail from the last agent I submitted to, bittersweet though —  it was a no, but it was the first reply I received out of six submissions. My query had undergone some significant changes, and now I’m wondering if that is what propelled this submission over the cyber trash bin, and into the eyes of this agent. We must stay positive after all .

Today, I am in Chester, MA doing research while I wait for my daughter who is interning with the chestertheater.com, I normally blog on my Mac but I am working off my iPad, there are some serious adjustment issues.

My daughter has a wonderful opportunity here, it’s a very professional organization and I am grateful that someone starting out, can get involved at this level.

Back to my rejection, I read that up to ten submissions are acceptable as long as the agent isn’t associated with any of the publishing houses you have queried. So I  do plan to get one or two more submissions out in the next few weeks. I think it’s a safe bet to say that the other five queries didn’t make it past the inbox. The process is quite convenient though, all filed electronically.

Not sure if I was clear on the fact that it was my novel WOVEN that was passed over. I have not put it out here on my blog like I did with my TEA ROOM story, which just passed the 12,000 word mark. I’m aiming for 17,000, I just made an exciting decision for the story and it may take on a little more of a fantasy element.

I am sitting in my own little corner at the Hamilton Library it’s a quaint old structure and this is a quaint old town. I am stumbling through the touch pad novelty as opposed to the good old keyboard I am used to. But you should know, I was just thinking on the long drive up here, that it will be an excellent way to force me to use my mobile devices more efficiently.

I am still getting registrations on my blog and I hope I am blogging information that is beneficial, but I know it is benefiting me, I really enjoy it. I have the MS with me from my first novel to go over, and I keep finding things to add or change, I imagine that will be the case until someone hollers stop.

One additional thing, I got a chance to see inside the theater when I went to pick up my girl and I also met the director, who spoke about the play and the exceptional venue.

 

The Tea Room (FRP part nineteen)

A knock was heard upon the door to the Advisor’s Office.

“Come in!” Andrew Fordham called.

Kirill Voislav, stepped inside. “You wanted to see me sir.”

“Yes, sergeant, I’m moving the boys camp up to Kitteridge, you’re their commander so obviously you will be going with them.”

Kirll remained silent.

“You have your orders, if there is nothing more you are dismisseded”

Kirili managed to speak. “Your pardon sir, my other duties?”

“I have already taken care of that Sergeant Menchovick will be guarding the princesses, you are free to concentrate on your new orders.”

Outside the office Kirill was met by Uri who had several boys with him needing assistance to get ready for the move North. He looked to the direction he had been contemplating but was forced by duty to turn and head in the opposite direction.

With the unit dispatched Kirill used the final moments to run to Irina’s chamber to at least say goodbye. Menchovick was there outside her chamber door.

“Menchovick, I need to talk to the princess Irina.”

Menchovick knocked on the door and Elizabeth answered.

“Why no sir, she is not here, she is … ”

A nervous Kirill interrupted her. “Please Elizabeth, I need the truth, I am leaving and I must see her.”

Heidi felt the wet cloth hit her back, Irina was doubled over in laughter. They both saw the red uniform jackets lined outside the Inn, her father engaged amongst them.

Irina turned to run but Vasilly made haste to step inside.

“Ahhh, Irina, I finally find you where I want you.”

“Vasilly, Captain Starostenko,” she changed to a more formal address.

“No, its still Vasilly to you my dear princess.”

He grabbed her arm to keep her from slipping away as she has been known to do.

“No, guard today?” he requested.

He gestured to the guards to bring Gordon inside and sit with his daughter, he then dragged Irina into the back room.

“No, Vasilly please, she then uttered the name Dobrynya Nikitich.

Vasilly laughed, “You hopeless child, Katrina and her ilk did a number on you!”

He grabbed her face and proceed to squeeze her cheeks till they hurt. He then tore at the apron and ripped it off but before he could react he was hit in the back of his head with a thick iron skillet.

Irina saw the face of her champion as Vasilly crashed to the floor. Sergeant Menchovick and the Royal Guard had surrounded the Inn and took the wayward Streltsy into custody.

Heidi ran to Irina’s side and saw the concern on Kirill’s face. She knew Irina was in capable hands and hugged her and left. Menchovick poked his head in.

“Sergeant we’re heading back to the palace. Are you staying?”

“No, he replied but leave my horse. I will be riding back with Princess Irina.”

Up on the charger, in the arms of her knight Irina finally felt safe. “I am sorry Kirill, I defied you.”

“Not really Irina, you defied Sergeant Menchovick, he is your new guard.”

“You have removed yourself from the duty of our protection because of me”

“No Irina, I could never do that. I have been ordered to take the boys up to Kitteridge, I am not sure for how long.”

Irina’s tears began to flow, not only for her but for Elizabeth who had another attachment that was about to be ripped away, — Pietro.

Kirill’s embrace became a little tighter and Irina turned her face into his arm, closed her eyes and tried to imagine this feeling, it would have to last a long time.

Katrina paced the war room after the announcement that Vasilly and his entire guard were now being held captive in the cells of the Wooden Palace.

“I should leave them to hang!”

Fedor Rankowsky was a little more reasonable. “You will have to meet with Uri Piolotsky and arrange some kind of exchange. I will neither subject my men to your impetuous plans, nor sacrifice them to your disregard for your former lover.”

Katrina was on shaky ground she knew some compromises will have to be made.

Kirill pulled Irina into the alcove outside the passageway leading to the bailey where the unit waited for him patiently. Fordham pacing back and forth in anticipation.

He bent to kiss her and she had no problems this time. He handed her a button he held in his pocket that reminded him of an incident in which his uniform was shredded and he retained the button for some unknown reason, this must be it.

She held the gold button in her hand as she listened to the last of the unit leave the bailey and the massive gates closing after them.

The Tea Room (FRP part sixteen)

Kirill Voislav watched as the lone figure left through an obscure section of the grandiose Wooden Palace. The diminutive figure quickly moved along so as not to be seen. He saw her however. Once deep within the foreigner’s village the errant figure stopped and removed a letter from the pocket of the over-sized cloak, double-checked the address of the storefront to that on the missive.

Once inside Braeden’s Bookstore, Irina found the book she desperately sought. Beautifully bound, masterfully colored, but most importantly — blank. She fingered the binding and pressed it to her breast while taking a deep breath and hoping her contrived plan worked. She had no money and was completely dependent on the Royal Financier to get the items she needed. A diary is not something she could acquire through those channels.

At the top of one of the papers she had removed from the Accountant’s Office at the Royal Residence, was the balance due sheet for Braeden’s Bookseller’s who never credited the accountant with some books and supplies that were returned. Her plan was to forgive the debt in exchange for the diary.

“Well Miss, where did you get this?” Braeden asked the nervous but determined patron.

“Please sir, if this is agreeable to you I will just give you this in exchange for this book I desire.” Irina explained.

The debt that was owed was substantially more than the worth of one small diary. He liked the girl whom he had a good idea was the feisty young princess who would no longer remain in her ivory tower. He agreed to the exchange and threw in some paper, a quill pen and ink.

The bell on the bookstore door rang and broke the quiet agreement of the irregular transaction.

“Dobrynya Nikitich,” Irina called out without thinking. “What are you doing here?”

Kirill Voislav smiled being very familiar with the folk hero Irina had just associated him with.

“I am following you, of course.” Kirill explained as he nodded acknowledgement to Master Braeden.

Irina’s gaze upon Braeden let him know to keep their exchange quiet. Kirill stepped toward Irina as if she would slip away from him again. Having the main objective of her excursion completed she acquiesced to the demands of her “dragon-slayer” guardsman.

As they stepped outside the bookstore and Kirill was satisfied they were not being watched, he looked to her for direction.

“I would like to go to see Heidi at the Inn if you would escort me there, it’s on the way, I promise I won’t be long.”

“Princess Irina, for the record my name in Kirill …”

So embarrassed by her slip-up she interrupted him and repeated his name, as if it were butter melting off a hot roll.

“Although I am quite flattered by being referred to as the great hero of all time.” he piled it on just to watch Irina squirm. “I will take you to the Inn and feed you there as well, I am partial to their pea soup, it is a luxury I don’t find anywhere else.”

Irina smiled, he was kind of sweet. They entered the Inn and sat at a corner table. Heidi came hurriedly around the counter and stopped in her tracks to embrace her friend, she hadn’t seen for awhile, and give a look of appreciation to her escort.

Almost immediately a group of Streltsy guards entered the  establishment that was-known for it’s loyalties to the young Tsar. The obvious leader of the gang who’s sole purpose was to cause trouble, Vasilly Starostenko, who had hesitated outside to heckle a passerby, delayed long enough for Heidi to move Irina and her escort into the back room and out the alley door — unseen.

“Irina I am afraid your clandestine activities are no longer a secret. I would have picked up that book for you. What are you reading that you had to risk so much to get it?”

Irina looked at him and didn’t quite know how to explain.

“You wouldn’t understand.” was her response.

Kirlli had several sisters himself and knew not to touch that with a spike man’s spear.

Her afternoon adventure had left quite a story to tell in the first entry of her new diary, but she hated to part company with the real-life, quite capable and handsome warrior dragon-slayer.

“I will be out by the lake tomorrow with the Tsar, perhaps you and Elizabeth could come by and watch the boys launch their sailboats.”

Knowing that any more time spent together within the walls of the palace could damage any future meetings she gleefully accepted his invitation and ran to tell Elizabeth the good news.

Dear Dobrynya,

Today was wonderful, I look forward to talking with you again. I am so torn by what has been my past existence and the thrill of this new one. To look someone else in the eye and be on equal footing is glorious to me. I am no better than anyone else, I am just as important as everyone else. And you my dear knight, I will not put you on a pedestal, but you have come along at a time when I needed you most. You have restored my faith in life you have inspired me to write again. Today we went to the word store and climbed the stacks of books to the top and looked out over the world. We flew on the eagle’s wings to the cave of dragons and were cloaked in magic so we could escape. Then you gave me hope for another fine adventure.

Till I see you again,

Always, Irina

Pause for Thought

I have come to a part in my Tea forthRoom story that I need to pause for a moment. I am researching some ideas that I feel need to be implemented correctly. I have become bored (for lack of a better term) with the story I had imagined from this point on. I want to make it dynamic and I must put forth some new ideas that are not readily available in my brain.

I have been torn between what is true blogging and what is not. Putting down raw ideas that may be incorrect or lacking or only blogging about things that you have all the facts at hand? When I read through everything I blog, I find mistakes that I am able to go in and correct. At what point will there be “perfection”?

I don’t really believe that is possible. The way my brain works my stories come out in one long sentence or incomplete sentences, it’s funny for me to see them, as long as no one else does. I had the experience of letting a first rough draft out, the story was marred by choppy sentences that interrupt the reader’s ease. I won’t do that again. I was so anxious to have my story critiqued that I failed to realize that the syntax was just as important as the story.

I am also going through something with my query letters. I finally stumbled upon some actual query’s that had success in securing an agent. They are amazing but really don’t follow any of the templates I had seen to date. They are almost like a synopsis rather than a typical query letter (to my mind at least). I have made three submissions and I am now assuming my work has been filed in the circular (cyber) file next to the desk-top of each agent I have submitted to. But, I am not daunted I will submit a few more letters before the end of July when I go to the WDC 2015 in NYC to pitch my book.

Okay princesses, I will be back with some more vibrant tales for Ludmilla and a romance for Irina; while they take their younger siblings under their wings in their respective palaces across the city.