making a move:

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An early christmas presentappeared on my desk a few days ago…. a computer complete with internet connection!

I haven’t blogged in a few months but I have been writing, reading and learning so having logged back on here I realise it’s time to start fresh and taking on board all of your comments hopefully I’ll not only make a better blog but also a better me.

please find me at caswebb.wordpress.com , I look forward to touching base with all of you again!

cheers

cas

 

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The problems with sentances

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My latest crits from fellow writers focused a lot on my sentences. specifically my need to ‘tighten them up’ and the fact that in places they are ‘unfinished’. So i sat, once again, reading aloud to myself and trying to spot the problem areas. With the movie version playing in my head i found this just frustrating – of course it all made sense to me. 

Plan B, when hubby gets over his food poisoning from last nights chinese i’m going to ask him to read a few pages out loud to me. If he stumbles then the sentences obviously don’t flow logically for him.

But in the mean time i’ve grabbed a few of my fav authors and opened their works to any random page, reading any random sentence and breaking it down into pace and point, verb, noun, adjective etc. To see where i’m standing in relation to those i admire.

Google books is also a great point of call with:

First we read, then we write: Emerson on the creative process

 By Robert D. Richardson

Being one of my fave easy searchers. Page 53 being a good starting point.

But here i am back at the beginning. With too many options and not enough straight answers. I wish i could see my own floors as clearly as others can.

Gotta love modern technology and the online university era. Charles Sturt Universities take on sentences can be found here: 

http://www.csu.edu.au/division/studserv/my-studies/ess/sentence

from their website:

A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought.

It has to have a subject (noun or pronoun). This is usually the person, thing or concept that does the action in the sentence and is called the actor. It tells who or what the sentence is about.

It has to have a predicate (verb or verb phrase). This is usually the action that the actor does. It describes what the subject is or is doing.

And more, it gets very complicated even though we hope most of the time most of this just comes naturally. But when we seem to be forgetting the fundamentals tracking down the problem feels both mammoth and exhausting.

So here goes. From paragraph one of the new wish-to-be masterpiece:

‘Concentrating was hard enough on its own.’

I can see that there is no subject. There is a predicate, concentrating. ‘However, if you combine them with an independent clause, everybody is happy again, and you get a complex sentence.’ (from csu)

So… ‘For me concentrating was hard enough on its own.’ or ‘I had been finding concentrating hard enough without the added distraction.’

Death by query letter

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So it’s the end of the world, i’ve been slapped by reality and am left staring back at a mirror and not enjoying what i can see.

There’s a dark hole waiting at the corner of my consciousness, daring me to fall in and wallow in the depths of my demise.

What am i on about? Simple – i’m getting it wrong and i don’t even know what right is at the moment.

I write a new query letter for each query, every agent/publisher is different and if query number 1 was rejected then i better fix it for query number 2 and so on, but the problem is i haven’t even been on the right side of the city neverlone on the right track. My whole notion of query letters has been blown out of the water. i do love the water cooler (forum) and i’m grateful for the comments, i’m pretty sure i can’t repost them here but i will post the changes that have been made to the query so you can see what i’m on about.

That dark hole though, it’s whispering to me… if the queries are this bad then the writing must be horrible and how did i ever think i was good at my day job and i absolutely must suck at being a mother…

Attempt 1…

 

Dear Publisher/Editor Name

Kayla is a teenage girl in a modern Australian town. For the most part the township is unaware of the magic Kayla and her friends posses and the novel is cantered around this underground world.

I studied religions at university and fell in love with the pagan or witchcraft cultures. This manuscript, and it’s possible sequels, are based around the many pagan societies that exist today and the simply notion of ‘what if they really did have magic?’

1. In Shadow Wisdom Kayla is just becoming old enough to discover the dark side of her world and the dangers of magic. Power and greed drive some of her kind to attack and murder others, different lineages are branded as good or evil in the magical world and the turmoil is created when she discovers her sexy neighbour is on the evil team.

The novel’s plot follows Kayla closely as she,

  • Meets her new neighbour and forms a friendship with him
  • Begins discovering and forming alliances with her own linage and is under pressure to hide her neighbours identity even though he has yet to do anything even remotely ‘evil’
  • A third party, also of the evil linage, begins to cause mischief and harm. They direct their attacks at Kayla
  • However Kayla must keep this a secret, thus endangering herself and others
  • An attack leads to the deaths of Kayla’s close family friends
  • The secrets begin to eat her up and tear her life apart
  • She escapes on a holiday with her neighbour where finally he snaps and in a bid to protect her he confronts the attacking party
  • Of course he is outnumbered and simply endangers his family, bringing the whole situation to a climax
  • The resolution is a treaty, whereby the neighbour and his family must move away in order for the enemy to leave, if one party can not terrorise the town neither can the other
  • Kayla is devastated, she feels she is loosing everything, her love, her security, the one person who understood everything, and at the same time she gains a new respect for her own family.

The manuscript finalises all of the key points explored in this novel and can be published stand alone if desired however the idea possessed me for some years and drafts for others in the series are available.

2. In the next manuscript, Night Breeds, Sheana moves into town, raised in an almost adopted situation she has no understanding of the world to which she belongs.

Night Breeds has a straight forward teenage belonging and self discovery plot. The manuscript follows Sheana as she,
· moves into a new town,
· takes a curiosity in teenagers she feels are up to something interesting, (Kayla and her family),
· discovers that she is a part of a magical world with these teenagers and falls into a complicated web of friends and enemies,
· then her whole town is confronted by a greater danger (enter return of danger in Shadow Wisdom) that is a uniting force and a climaxing moment
· and finally the greater danger is defeated by Sheana creating a reason for Sheana’s enemies to become her friends.

3. Simultaneously in another novel Kayla is on an adventure of her own, the two plots cross over occasionally as Kayla, growing a little wild and reckless, attempts to seek her revenge on the returned danger.

4. The next instalment introduces new characters and new alliances from Sheana’s point of view.
The danger is still emanating from the same source however this time it is a conjured beast who is doing the damage. Defeating the beast is goal number one and entails joining forces with an equal evil. The lines between right and wrong are continuing to blur but whilst the means are unsettling to some in the group the end result is a spectacular joining of forces and success in destroying the beast.

As a series other plots such as the church and the inquisition (from a fictional point of view), the return of Kayla’s neighbour and the final destruction of the danger set on destroying them are still available for exploration.

Please find below the first five pages of my completed YA manuscript Shadow Wisdom and attached the full word document.

Thankyou for your time

Sincerely
me

 

Attempt 2

Query

Dear Publisher/Editor Name

I have recently completed an 84 000 word young adult urban fantasy novel entitled Shadow Wisdom, and I hope you might consider me for your list.

Magic is real, death is a possibility and the notions of right and wrong are blurring as Kayla ventures into the dark depths of an age old battle between good and evil. It’s not her fight, nor can she end the battle but discovering that the guy she just might love is from the wrong side of the fight makes it impossible for her to walk away. If only hiding this magic from the blissfully unaware Australian town where Kayla and her family reside had stayed her biggest problem.

Kayla can sense that the new students in her school harbour a darkness, she knows that they are behind the attacks on her friends and family, but she can’t tell a soul and the secrets are tearing Kayla’s life a part. Only one person knows the truth, only one guy understands the magical dangers that they are all in and ultimately the guy she just might love will abandon her to secure a truce.

The complete manuscript is attached for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely

me

Synopsis

Dear publisher

I studied religions at university and fell in love with the pagan or witchcraft cultures. This manuscript and it’s sequels are based around the many pagan societies that exist today and the simple notion of ‘what if they really did have magic?’

In Shadow Wisdom Kayla is just becoming old enough to discover the dark side of her world and the dangers of magic. Power and greed drive some of her kind to attack and murder others, different lineages are branded as good or evil in the magical world and the turmoil is created when she discovers her sexy neighbour is on the evil team.

The novel’s plot follows Kayla closely as she,

  • Meets Mr sexy new neighbour and forms a friendship with him
  • Begins discovering and forming alliances with her own lineage and is under pressure to hide her neighbour’s identity even though he has yet to do anything even remotely ‘evil’
  • A third party, also of the evil lineage, begins to cause mischief and harm. They direct their attacks at Kayla
  • Still the secrets bubble and boil under the surface
  • An attack leads to the deaths of Kayla’s close family friends
  • Kayla escapes on a holiday with her neighbour where finally he snaps and in a bid to protect her he confronts the attacking party
  • Of course he is outnumbered and simply endangers his family, bringing the whole situation to a climax
  • The resolution is a treaty, whereby the neighbour and his family must move away in order for the enemy to leave, if one party can not terrorise the town neither can the other
  • Kayla is devastated, she feels she is loosing everything, her love, her security, the one person who understood everything, and at the same time she gains a new respect for her own family.

The manuscript finalises all of the key points explored in this novel and can be published stand alone if desired however drafts for others in the series are available.

In the next manuscript, Night Breeds, Sheana moves into town, raised in an almost adopted situation she has no understanding of the world to which she belongs. This manuscript is a complete draft a …. Words.

The manuscript follows Sheana as she,

  • Moves into a new town,

· Takes a curiosity in teenagers she feels are up to something mysterious, (Kayla and her family),
· Discovers that she is a part of a magical world with these teenagers and falls into a complicated web of friends and enemies,
· Then her whole town is confronted by a greater danger (enter return of danger in Shadow Wisdom) that is a uniting force and a climaxing moment
· And finally the greater danger is driven back by Sheana creating a reason for Sheana’s enemies to become her friends.

Simultaneously in another novel Kayla is on an adventure of her own, the two plots cross over occasionally as Kayla, growing a little wild and reckless, attempts to seek her revenge on the returned danger for having destroyed her life in the first book.

The next instalment introduces new characters and new alliances from Sheana’s point of view.
The danger is still emanating from the same source however this time it is a conjured beast who is doing the damage. Defeating the beast is goal number one and entails joining forces with an equal evil. The lines between right and wrong are continuing to blur but whilst the means are unsettling to some in the group the end result is a spectacular joining of forces and success in destroying the beast.

As a series other plots such as the church and the inquisition (from a fictional point of view), the return of Kayla’s neighbour and the final destruction of the danger set on destroying them are still available for exploration.

Whilst the stories are fictional I utilised the facts in modern magic based cultures and embraced elements that make the books alive with a dash of reality in the fiction.

Thankyou for your time

Sincerely
me

Attempt 3…

Query

Dear Publisher/Editor Name

After studying religions at university I fell in love with the pagan or witchcraft cultures. This manuscript and it’s sequels are based around the many pagan societies that exist today and the simple question of ‘what if they really did have magic?’

Magic is a reality in Kayla’s life and a large part of her magical world is out to kill her. Not because of anything she’s ever done but simply because they want to steel her powers. To make the situation worse the people out to get her are a handful of students that recently started attending her school.
Before any of this started happening Kayla was a carefree teenager with one best friend and no interests in guys. As the darkness in her life grows Kayla intuitively and subconsciously draws together her extended kindred and exposes decades of forgotten good magic. She want’s to understand what’s going on and she wants to master her magic but more importantly she wants to keep everyone safe and to do this she has to loose the first guy she’s ever fallen for. Not her idea of a perfect solution but the alternative is loosing everyone else. The problem is she’s more than willing to run from her kindred and stay with the guy.

Shadow Wisdom is an 84 000 word young adult urban fantasy novel and it is attached for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely
me

To query one publisher with 2 manuscripts or not?

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Two manuscripts, two queries, what’s the best way to do this?

So i’ve had 2 manuscripts that i’ve been querying for a while and i’m to the point where i’m querying publishers because i’ve run out of agents.

My problem is i’ve a publisher, black dog books, who i really like looking at one of these manuscripts whilst another has passed on the other.

I want to query black dog books with my other manuscript too but i’m not sure if that will give a bad impression.

On the one hand in the unlikely event that both books are snavelled up at the same time friction might be created between two editors trying to get my attention at once. I don’t want to be seen as a problem, or potential problem, at all.

On the other hand is there a possibility that they will see how hard i work and how much i want to be a good writer by the fact that i haven’t just given up and sat on my bum after writing book 1, but i have also writen another and worked it through edits etc.

so really to query the same publisher with 2 different works or not?

And if i do should i mention in the query that they’re currently looking at my other work two?

E Query

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Here’s just a few tips from people, websites and personal experience about sending in an E query.

  • Do Your Research:

Google and every other search engine the agent you’re planing on sending your manuscript to. Do they accept emails? What are their guidelines? Do they represent your type of work? Why are you querying them? 

  • Then stop researching

There is such a thing as too much. you’ll get to point where one website says do this and another says do that. I was reading ‘keep it sweet less than 2 to 3 paragraphs’ then i’d read ‘make sure you add thing 1, 2, 3’ which would be well over the short and sweet rule. Get all the facts you need, be informed and then use common sense. ultimately you’re on your own and you must decide how to use the knowledge you’ve gained.

  • Type up your email first

You’re going to want your own copy to work with if you get an R because you can’t just send the same one out again and again.

  • Place the text in the body of the email, don’t use attachments
  • In the subject line put something simple and to the point, like “manuscript Query” and the name of your story or your name.
  • Very importantly, place your details at the top of the email like you would on a letter. for one thing this makes it easier for the agent to reply – especially if they reply at a later date. you don’t want them having to search through your whole email to find your name and then going to the bottom to find your reply details. Always put your details in the email because depending on spam filters some agents can’t simply hit the reply button.
  • Be VERY professional. I can’t tell you how to write your query but i can tell you that there isn’t a good word online for a query that says ‘my manuscript is ready for you go to my website’

One way to look at it is that you aren’t the customer in this transaction the agent is and they are the one you need to impress or to put it another way they are the employer and your the prospective employee – you need to be on your best behaviour and present yourself in the best light as well as your manuscript.

  • If the agent asks for the first five pages paste them into the body of the email.

And edit them first – aim for no spelling and no grammar errors.

  • Use standard fonts and sizes – agents are busy business people not artists.

This one’s sometimes hard for us because we are artists, we want to put heart and soul into the whole project, plus some colour and some pizzaz and so on. Dont. Refrain and create a clean email query. Why? because what is ultimately going to sell your manuscript is how well you write – the font on your email doesn’t help the agent at his next lunch meeting but your writing, your words, your ideas will – that is what you want to put into the email.

  • Send the email to yourself first.

Sounds silly and i nearly skipped it on my first e query but i did it and i discovered that my email address wasnt live (make it live – or hot – so the agent can click on it and reply. do the same for any blogs or websites even though most agents don’t have the time to go looking at such things) I also discovered that an image – a logo – in the base of my email sent it into the spam folder and i couldn’t have that. So i deleted all images. Also because of the way sizing changes i discovered that i hadn’t really used much space – so i added a few more important details. So it pays to send it to yourself first.

  • I don’t want to tell you what to include in the email, all agents and authors are different so it changes for everyone but i will tell you what i included:
  1. My contact details
  2. Dear (agents full name)
  3. Name of manuscript
  4. A 2 paragraph synopsis
  5. Word count and details on the progress of books 2 and 3 in the series. (this one’s for Kemla)
  6. Why i chose the agent and the agency – i pointed out three reasons why this agent in particular was the aim of this particular query.
  7. A one line ‘me’ bio – i’m not published so the bio was short and sweet.
  8. My first 5 pages
  9. My contact details again.

All i’d like to say is try your best at email queries no matter how informal your twittering is this is a business email and take your own notes – you will learn more and more as you go on.

researching agents

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I need to know who i’m sending stuff to,

especially because there are so many ‘to’s out there for the ‘sending’.

Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the time of year or something similarly lacking in any reason to be called an excuse, but there is a whole lot of websites out there that just copy and paste information from each other. i’m trying to research a handful of agents, trying to find one suitable to my genre and all the other fine points that i personally feel are important to know before sending off a query and i keep coming across the same thing again and again to the point where i’m not sure if agents are sticking to some old faithful sayings or if there’s just one real interview being copied and made to look like several interviews on several different websites.

It’s very odd when word for word the same people seem to be having the same conversation which leads me to the frustration that’s fueling this post.

For one thing i am hungry for new information, broader and more in-depth information and all these websites are simply failing to deliver and wasting my time.

for another their wasting their own time, don’t they read what’s already out there? why don’t they do something new?

I’m going to try some obscure little search engines in the hope of finding something new!

Wish me luck

My Rules

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1. Write, scribble, jot, draw, paint, preview, dream, imagine, love, laugh and…

…Have something on paper before even thinking about agents or publishers or any other soul who may one day read your work.

2. Immerse yourself, Dive in deeper, educate yourself and give your words grounding in reality, make them real, full of feeling and as alive as words can be.

Take courses

Go on outings and excursions

Meet a real… eat lunch in your books cafe…

3. Learn to write words that paint the scene in your reader’s imagination and dispense of words that need to explain the scene – when you understand this one (which is unlikely to be straight away) then your ready to move onto the next step.

4. Get it right. This one’s always driven me mad – on the one hand we all know books are edited before being published whether you edit it to bits now or not however on the other hand a sloppy manuscript rarely gets read by an agent. Here i think there’s a fine line between just enough time editing and too much time editing. One thing i will say is that you must edit.

4. Know your options when it comes to agents and publishers. It may not be the fun part but it’s a vital step. Research the industry and the person you plan to send your words to.

5. Put on a leather raincoat – or a plate armour one! Because whatever feedback you receive you must, 100% must, be able to take the good and the bad and make your work better and you can not do this if your too busy taking the rejections personally.

6. Write again…

…So you’re waiting for a reply? What’s stopping you from working on your next best seller?

 

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