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Abridged angst

I've been working on a contest entry all afternoon, taking into account my own edits, as well as the comments of my CP. That was the easy part. It was the @#%$! synopsis that got me hung up.

Boiling my living, breathing story down to a dry blow-by-blow of the high points is mind-numbing and BORING! I'll admit, it can bring some plot holes to light, and it will probably be easier when I start applying what I've learned about structure to my future MSs, but I'm not sure I'll ever love writing them.

To make things worse, the contest I'm entering requires a max synopsis word count of 675! That's just about two pages. Who knew I could be so economical with words? I managed to cut it from an already spare 950 down to 668 (just for good measure). With only two pages, it can be hard to shoehorn in the motivations clearly. I find myself leaving out whole chunks of stuff, but maybe that's better.

It misses some of the richness of the complete story, but it's far easier if I don't have to explain why the heroine is at odds with her father and later asks him for money. Is it important? Kind of. Is it pivotal? Guess not.

We'll see what my CP thinks.

How do you handle the synopsis? (Except you, Christine. I have the handout!) ūüėČ

High Resolution

Happy 2010! I hope you all had a great holiday. My household is catching up on laundry and email as we recover from a great trip to visit family in Phoenix. And, like many of you, I'm thinking about goals.

Even though resolutions for the new year have become cliché, I find it helpful to evaluate past goals and set a new course for the year to follow. Goals help me see more clearly how productive I've been, as well as where I want to go.

In a November post, I listed a daily plan that I'm using to be more productive. It includes micro goals that get me through each day and help me take advantage of my most productive/creative hours for writing, while saving my “slump” hours for other tasks.

Based on the last two months, I've tweaked the daily plan to be more realistic, but still challenging.

2010 Daily Writing Plan

  1. Write 1000 net words/day, at least 6 days/week, and track in Scrivener
  2. Finish daily goals on to-do list (judging, query letters, synopsis, CP readings, etc.)
  3. Post blog entry including Daily Squirrel, at least 6 days/week
  4. Limit email to three times/day unless daily goals are met
  5. Work out before 7:30 am, or during afternoon/evening
  6. Limit FB and blog reading to 30 minutes/day, unless daily goals are met
  7. No fiction reading unless daily goals are met

Writing Goals for 2010

  • read one writing craft book/month
  • enter Floater and possibly Diego's story in GH and Maggie's
  • attend RWA National Conference (pitch Floater and series?)
  • complete and polish three single title MSs

1/31 – Finish rough draft of Floater (and come up with better title)
2/28 – Finish first major revision of Floater (using Maass & other books)
2/28 – enter Floater in Great Beginnings Contest (finish and apply Hooked)
3/01 – Start next book for DEA series (Diego's story)
4/01-4/15 – Touch up Floater after CP feedback
5/31 – Finish rough draft of Diego's story (before we move in early June)
6/XX – Move to ???, trip to Europe (try to write/revise/brainstorm at least 30 minutes, 6 dpw)
7/15 – query at least five agents with Floater
7/31 – create pleasant and creativity-inducing writing space in new home
7/31 – Finish major revisions on Diego's story, get CP feedback
8/01 – start another book (TBD, part of series, or other idea)
9/01-9/15 – Touch up Diego's story with CP feedback
10/31 – finish rough draft of 3rd book
11/30 – Finish major revisions on 3rd book

What are some of your goals for the new year?

The Daily Squirrel: interview

John forced himself to sit still even though he wanted to adjust his tie, wipe his brow, and fiddle with his gold pen. With a baby on the way, he needed this promotion more than ever. And, dammit, he was the right person for the job. At least his wife kept telling him so.

“What makes you think you're the best candidate for plant manager?” Helen, his long-time boss and good friend, asked in a cool, professional tone. He knew she'd be impartial, but damn, couldn't she at least smile to put him at ease?

“Well, I've decreased the operating costs and increased productivity in my area at least ten percent annually for the last five years. I also spearheaded the new product line roll out, which was on-time and under budget. And my department has the lowest turnover rate in the entire company. I'd like the opportunity to do the same for the entire plant.”

Amazingly, his voice sounded confident, even as his hands trembled in his lap, hidden from view by the conference table.

Helen glanced at the two men sitting to either side of her. “And we'd like to give it to you,” Helen said, finally giving him a smile. “You've got the job.”

Writing Pageantry

My baby, Counting on You, is finally on its way to Texas to be judged against everyone else's baby in the most prestigious pageant for unpublished romance authors, The Golden Heart. (Insert huge sigh of relief here.)

Frankly, my chances of making it to the finals are slim. Almost 1000 writers entered last year, and no more than eight from each category will make it to the finals. But, the attempt is worth it. While there's no guarantee a finalist will garner a publisher's attention, chances are very good.

A writer who makes it to the final round (or wins!) can feel confident that her work is competitive among some of the best unpublished romance authors out there. Granted, the judging is subjective. Preliminary judges are other authors, both published and unpublished. But, the whole industry is subjective.

Writing contests are like the current spate of talent shows on TV…um, except not on TV. Most people won't make it to the top 20. Some will confirm they royally suck, others will learn that they're good but need more work, and a few will realize their dream.

Of course–like everyone else–I'm hoping to realize my dream, but until then, I'll just keep pounding the keys.

The Daily Squirrel: green (one of my favorite colors)

The color green screamed so loud from the walls and furnishings of the tiny room that her eyes hurt. She could almost feel the weight of it on her shoulders. Green had always been her favorite. The color of the forest, the jungle, a field of grass. But this…this was too much, even for her.

And the winner is…

“I won! I won!” she yelled as she bounced around the room like a rubber ball… ¬†Okay, seriously. ¬†I just found out that I won the Contemporary category of the Heart-to-Heart Contest for Unpublished Authors, sponsored by the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America. Woo hoo!

Just to make sure it doesn't go to my head, I also found out today that I didn't even move to the final round of the Gateway to the Best Contest sponsored by the Missouri Romance Writers of America. And so it goes.

As nice as it is to get kudos for my writing, my main goal in entering the contests was to receive feedback from other writers in the industry. And I did. My manuscript has changed quite a bit from the original entry. The entry the editors and agent judged in the final round was six pages shorter–and hopefully more engaging–than what the first round judges had to read.

And, in the months since I entered these contests, I've been picking up more skills and ideas from my fellow Southern Magic members, my critique partner, writing seminars, and the many writing books that I've been reading. I feel confident that every book I write will be better than the last.

So, I'm one step closer to being published, even if I don't receive any requests for this manuscript. I'm pretty intrinsically motivated, and I'll keep plugging away even without the positive strokes of others.

Of course, I'm still going to enjoy the glow and have my own little celebration. After all, it never hurts to feel a little love, and everyone likes to be a winner.