Tuesday, November 22, 2005
But by morning light, nothing more dramatic than a couple of drinks of water had happened, and Sissy the dog was curled up in front of the heater, waiting for her people to wake up.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
It's been a week now since Mary Ann and I threw some clothes into the RV and headed to Amarillo. My father, Gene Melton had suffered a heart attack and weakened kidney function, and it was time for some serious hospital sitting.
It's strange how tasks that normally would be intolerably boring can be handled fairly easily, if there is a real need. I suppose it explains a lot of human activities -- military service, going to work every day, and even parenthood. From the outside, it seems incomprehensible, but when duty calls, at least in my definition, it all works out.
We are finally reaching the point where he is getting to walk a few steps for exercise. I'm needing the exercise as well -- I just finished circling the 400 foot main corridor of this floor for a few minutes. The chairs are comfortable, but the sitting is deadly.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
With the looming trip approaching, where my laser printer would be unavailaibe. I had only a few days to re-polish all my selling scripts, write the letters, and get the query letters and sample chapters out into the mail. There was quite a bit of writing to do. I find that I need seven different versions of each novel:
Working Outline: I use OmniOutline Pro to compose a detailed outline of what I intend to write. Sometimes this can be up to 25% of the finished length of the novel -- very detailed.
Manuscript: This is the real novel, in manuscript format, just as the editor will read it. Wide margins, Courier 12, one side of the paper, double-spaced, nice headings on each page.
First Reader Copy: I use a macro to reformat a manuscript to a reader-friendly format. Two columns, Times, single-spaced, both sides of the paper, underlines changed to italics. The finished result is comb bound and individually addressed to each First Reader.
Audio Version: I convert the manuscript into audio chapter files which I load into iTunes and play as I review the work.
Synopsis: This is an abbreviated outline, detailing all of the plot, which is part of most submission packages. I try to boil the whole novel down to five or six pages, formatted like the manuscript. This is a very hard job, and one most writers have problems with. How can you do justice to a zillion paged book in just a handful?
Pitch: This is a half-page introduction to the book, used in query letters to editors. I have to tell enough about the story to show how unique and wonderful it is, while not getting bogged down. If a five page synopsis is hard, this is too. You have to leave out characters, major plot points, all kinds of stuff. I try to make sure my query letter all fits on one sheet, and that includes salutation and headings, etc.
Hook: Write one sentence that captures a reader's interest. You see these all the time on the book covers. The idea here is that you have just seconds before your target's attention moves on to something else. Long before a book sits on the store shelf, it will have to be sold to editors, editorial boards, sales representatives and booksellers. Few if any of them will have read the whole book before hand. Your hook may just make the difference.
So, having polished up my synopsis, pitch and hook for each of my unpublished novels, I reviewed my market lists and composed the necessary query letters and submission packages. My laser printer churned away and on Saturday, I finally had a stack of submissions to be mailed. Off they went, and now I have more waiting to do.
Mary Ann wanted to leave for Lost Maples early Monday, but I was totally surprised when we actually drove out the driveway at 9:45 in the morning. That has to be some kind of a record.
Friday, November 04, 2005
So, finding my copyrighted story "The Christmas Count" which was part of the anthology Christmas Stars, I immediately attempted to see how much was being shown. At first, all I could see were things like the table of contents, but hitting the "More results from this book" link, I found seven full pages (out of the eleven page story) and one partial page. This is certainly more than the 20% advertised, but chopped up like it was, it would be impossible to fully read and understand the story.
I await more evidence before I can make up my mind on this issue. The search engine approach to paper publishing is far too valuable to be blocked out of hand, but it's going to take some serious work to find the fair approach for all concerned. There's the old saying, "You can't grep dead trees." But it looks like that's all changing now.