Friday, March 25, 2016

First Chapter Makeovers

A few weeks back an agent tweeted that he was inviting writers to submit queries and first five pages of their manuscripts to him and he would be giving feedback on the pages. This particular submission was open for a couple of days only.

As I had been planning to query that particular agent later, I grabbed the opportunity and immediately sent the pages and my query letter to his email id. The agent was a biggie and very reputed and it would be great to get any kind of personalized feedback from him on my sample pages.

Normally all we get are form rejections that leave us scratching our heads, wondering where we went wrong.

A few days later the agent sent me his feedback. Though it was a short one, it pointed out a huge flaw in my initial few pages: the opening scene was very slow and a little too heavy on information and internal narration without enough scene action to pull the reader in. I wonder how I had missed the flaw. Yes, my opening was very slow. The agent had nailed it perfectly, zooming in on what was wrong with my first few pages. When I had queried that book last year, I did wonder why I had no requests for a partial or a full based on the first few pages.

Now I know why.

Keeping the agent’s feedback in mind, I revised the first three chapters. It was such an extensive revision, I feel I mauled my first three chapters like a vicious predator, until I had words under my fingernails. When I reread the three chapters, I was thrilled. It has become more interesting, racy and suits the theme of the book.

Sometimes this kind of a feedback is just the oxygen we need to revive our manuscripts.

Have you ever received such a feedback that has made you give your manuscript an extensive makeover that you don’t recognize it from the earlier version?

Friday, March 18, 2016

My Blogging Anniversary and Peeves

When I started blogging on March 22, 2010, it was with a lot of apprehension. What will I blog about? Who will read my blog? Will anyone comment or follow my blog? I spent more time worrying than writing my first post. The first post itself had a split personality. My blogging mentor helped me shape it into a decent post. Thank you Lia Keyes for mentoring a novice like me to be a decent blogger (I hope my blog buddies think that way).

After my first post I was hooked. I still am. I admit that at times I run out of topics and drive myself up the wall thinking of new topics.

Though I have reduced the posting days from twice a week to once a week and on the first Wednesdays after my IWSG post, I skip the Friday post, restricting my posting to four times a month.

I enjoy my blogging a lot, especially the connections I have made in the last 6 years. And I look forward to visiting my blog buddies’s blogs and catching up with what is happening in their lives.

I have realized that many old-time bloggers are losing interest. Infact, on IWSG days, when I am co-hosting, I find that many bloggers haven’t posted from several months and a few haven’t posted from a year or so.

When I want to visit the bloggers who have either followed me recently or have left a comment on my blog, I find that there is no link to follow them back. I have to google their names to arrive at their blogs. Sometimes, even that doesn’t help.

And when I click the link on many bloggers’s profile pictures I gasp at the number of blogs listed under their names, most of these blogs haven’t seen a post from years. 

Then, I have to click, one by one, on all their blogs, to see in which blog they post regularly. I want to tell these bloggers to make it easy for us to follow them. They should link back to the blog where they post regularly.

Let’s not forget the bloggers who still have their word verification on. Blog buddies please make it easy for the rest of us. I wonder how bloggers like Alex Cavanaugh manage to wade through all these problems and visit hundreds of blogs and leave comments.

Do you have any blogging peeves?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Helping other writers

I have found the writing community very helpful, especially the blogging community. Everyone is so eager to share helpful writing tips, writing resources and other writing related information. When a blogging buddy’s book is released, we all share in the happiness. It always feels nice to see a writer friend’s book reviews, blog tours and interviews on all our blogs.

There are many ways we can help writers. I know that we all have time constraints and cannot afford to critique many books (I feel bad when I say no to authors who want me to critique their books). I already have a couple of critique partners and between critiquing their books and writing my own and my teaching and free-lance writing, I have no time. And I won’t be able to do justice If I take on more work.

But I am always eager to help other writers in my own small way. I am ever ready to critique a few chapters, their synopsis, query letters and pitches. As these require less time, I do it often especially via Twitter and Facebook. Many writers when they enter Twitter Pitch contests DM me their pitches and I help them tweak and polish the pitches.

And if an Indie writer Tweets about their book release I Retweet them. It’s so important to help other writers, especially the ones published by small presses, as they don’t have the marketing budget of the Big Six.

I read on Twitter that its very helpful if we leave book reviews on Amazon and other sites. I have done a few. Favourable book reviews is a good way to promote books. And I am big on word of mouth publicity. If I have liked a book I recommend it to everyone I know (except stopping people on the roads and telling them about it).

I also make it a point to give books as gifts. It’s so important to help the publishing industry survive.

As I know for a certainty that you all help other writers, I will just ask you all, are there any other ways in which we can help writers?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

IWSG Post – Fear of being judged for what I write

Two months of 2016 have flown past. It’s once again time for our monthly IWSG post. IWSG is the place we writers hang around online, sharing our writing insecurities, anxieties, worries, clearing our doubts and learning from each other. As all the writers are at different stages of their publishing journey, there is a wealth of information on the IWSG website.

Ninja Captain Alex JCavanaugh (author of the Amazon Bestsellers: CassaStar, CassaStorm, CassaFire and Dragon of the Stars), started this awesome group. Trust me when I say this, it’s a pleasure being a part of Super A’s (as I have secretly nicknamed Alex) group. We are all trying to learn from his generosity, and hope to emulate him by being helpful, warm and concerned like him.

This month my writing insecurity is being judged by what I write. Honestly, it’s has become one of my biggest fears. I have started wondering what people think of the things I write. This new obsession has started while I am reading a book by an Indian author whose female character is obsessed by men’s anatomy (I’m not going to elaborate, I hope you all get the hint). Though these passages are funny, I keep wondering what made the writer write them. Is the writer like that in real life? Does she discuss all this with her female friends. I have even formed an image of the writer’s personality and nature in my mind. I keep thinking she must be having a kinky personality to write the way she has written.

This has made me wonder whether readers and other writers judge us by the stories we write, by our raunchy descriptions and scenes? Do you all make assumptions about a writer’s personality or judge their nature when you read their books? Do you worry about being judged by your kinky writing (if you ever write those scenes.)