Thursday, May 31, 2012

Revising

As I said in #3 HERE, I've been camped out in the revision cave for weeks. Since the remnants of revising still course through my veins, I thought, hey, why not blog about it. Not my veins, silly. Revising.

Apparently I'm in love with numbering things in my posts, like, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Why mess with what works?

Here are my top five thoughts on revising.

5. Be as persnickety as Rose's mother in TITANIC when it comes to who you get revising feedback from. I'm not saying to find people who will "yes" you to death. That's about as useless as having your pet fish read the manuscript. I'm saying to find people who will push you, encourage you, respectfully challenge you and above all else, give you the feeling that they want to see your story published. That feeling is hard to identify sometimes, but it is crucial. Obviously, if you're working with your agent and editor, they want to see your story published--that feeling is the foundation. However, if you're not, focus on that gut feeling, and seriously ask yourself: do these revision notes give me the feeling that _________ wants to see this story published? If the answer is no, put your protective eye gear on and read his/her revision notes through that lens. Don't completely disregard his/her notes (there may be some good nuggets) but instead, be persnickety.

4. I've discovered that I need absolute silence to revise. Mostly because the act of diving back into a manuscript to tinker, rearrange, or slash must be done with precision and concentration. The silence allows me to make sure the tiniest of details and the biggest of plot points remain accurate throughout. I can't do that with music on or people talking. I've tried and it frustrates me too much, and then I'm all screamy and cranktastic. Doesn't bode well with the fam.

My Staples print outs of my five novels (two published).
3. Even though I do the bulk of my major revisions on my laptop, I still need to have what I call my "paper read through". It's one of the last steps in my process. It's after I'm "finished" with my revisions and I need to have a final read through for clarity, flow, and to catch the nitty gritty stuff I may have missed. There's nothing like having the manuscript physically in front of me so I can write all over it, and flip backwards and forwards when I need to (I loathe doing that on the computer screen). Once my "paper read through" is done, I go back and key in the changes I made. It works for me.


2. Whenever I have a fully revised paper manuscript--revised either by my agent, my editor, a crit partner or me--and I come to a page or pages without any notes, my heartbeat quickens. This excites me for a few reasons 1) It means the page is fine just like it is. No changes needed. 2) Flipping the page with zest means I'm that much closer to completion.

1. Revising can be painful for me. Yes, brain squishy and all that, but I'm talking about real pain. Check out the photo underneath. hose are my fingers covered in Band-Aids. Four of them, but who's counting. I have this terrible habit of picking and biting my cuticles. I do this when I'm watching something exciting on TV or in the movie theater. I do this when I'm bored or nervous. And I do this when I'm writing or revising. A lot. Hence the need for the Band-Aids.
Did you notice that I needed TWO Band-Aids on each of my thumbs? Yeah.
What are your thoughts on revising? Any bad habits? Any good habits?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Five Random Things

1. I intentionally deleted the Intense Debate plugin for comments and all of my comments went POOF. The plugin kept acting wonky and intermittently disappearing. I'm bummed that any comments made through Intense Debate are forever lost, but I'll live. They'll have to be remembered in my heart. *insert sappy music here*

2. Last weekend, Elisa Ludwig, E. C. Myers, and I, ran a writing workshop for teens. The kids who came were AWESOME and then there was this:
Photo courtesy of E. C. Myers
3. I've been in a revising F R E N Z Y lately, and I love it. Put my beloved middle grade novel through yet another revision and submitted it to my agent. Put the first third of my brand new YA ghost story through a revision and submitted it my agent. Put my YA coming of age novel through another revision and am about to send it back to my agent. A public "thank you" to said agent for her brilliance and encouragement.

4. I'm really looking forward to attending Book Expo America (BEA) for the first time. If anyone out there is going, stop by these two events and say hello:
- Meet the Apocalypsies
- Teen Author Carnival

5. Question: How are YOU? Any plans for summer?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Unexpected Side of Being Published

When I wrote CRACKED, I dreamed of important strangers reading and connecting to it (agents and editors).

When I landed my agent, and she sold CRACKED, I dreamed of other important strangers reading and connecting to it (readers).

The reader response to CRACKED has been overwhelmingly positive, and for that I am grateful. Important strangers are connecting to Victor and Bull. The unexpected side of being published is that some readers are connecting in profound ways.

Last week I discovered a message on facebook. By "discovered" I mean that it sat unnoticed in the dreaded "other" section of my messages. But I found it and I read it and I was stunned.

An important stranger connected.

*I asked for and obtained permission from this "important stranger" to share this correspondence here.


Dear Miss Walton,

I just finished your book about 5 minutes ago, Cracked, I breezed through it in about 2 days, even with school I could hardly put it down.

Funny cause I can relate to Victor in some ways which is weird, and the book opened up many things. Thank you.

I recently, a couple weeks back in February, spent 11 days in the ward for the same reasons, and well, every aspect of the ward in your book was the same as the one I was in. Although each patient had their own room and washroom there was still the crazy eights and common room and cafeteria and such.

The weirdest thing happened too, there was this girl, she’d been in some of my classes and we had opinions about each other; to her I was annoying, and well, weird and not a good person. And to me she was a royal, well, I shouldn’t say “bitch” but she was to me back then, and she was a free and popular person to a bottom feeder like myself.

When I walked into the ward there she was, kinda like Bull was when Victor walks in. I laughed at the irony I swear! Things changed in my 11 days in the ward. We never had any violent outbreaks. Well maybe one, but it was still the same. This book brought back a piece of the hope that maybe in the end of everyone’s story there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to wait for it.

Thank you,
(Name withheld) 

Besides the way the writer ingeniously wove in two sayings from the novel ("I swear!" and "bottom feeder"), my very favorite sentence of this extraordinary letter is the last: "This book brought back a piece of the hope that maybe in the end of everyone’s story there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we just have to wait for it." 


The thing is, hope commands a certain reverence. It's the Professor Snape of emotions: imposing and firm, yet motivated by love. For when a human being feels hope--genuine palpable hope--the empowerment alone can pull us from the hole. Hope is the light. 

To think a story I created gave this important stranger hope, is rather humbling. Thank you, reader, thank you.

PS A closing thought: to anyone reading this, I challenge you to see the invisible people in your lives. The person no one talks to, the person who sits alone in the lunch room, etc.... See them. Acknowledge them. Smile at them. Basic human kindness goes a long way.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Words of Encouragement

This post is for anyone out there longing for something (an agent, a book deal, love, happiness, the truth, anything).

At the risk of sounding hokey and new agey, I suggest this: set it free.


If you've done everything humanly possible to achieve what it is you want, and I do mean everything, then release the want. The want is holding you back. Let it go and simply wait for "it" to come to you. Again, I understand that I sound like I'm spouting a line from The Secret, but my philosophy is different at its core. Where The Secret tells you to desire and then wait to receive, I believe in a more pro-active approach: logical and meaningful action leading up to the release of the want.

Go back a step and analyze what it is you actually want, and if you've been stuck at the "want stage" for a while, ask yourself: is there anything else I can do to make "it" happen? If the answer is "yes" then do it. But, make sure what you do is productive and meaningful and truly has the power to increase the likelihood of "it" happening. You don't want to spin your wheels. Your wheels are precious.

If the answer is "yes, I have done everything I can to do make 'it' happen", then unequivocally let the want go. With consciousness and purposefulness, release it in a way that feels freeing to you. Be creative. Having the release mean something to you holds power.


Then let life take over again. Allow the things, people, moments back in that have been put aside. Add things that you've been putting off because you've been treading water in the want.

And wait for "it" to happen. When your desire materializes, your celebration will be deeper, richer and far more satisfying because you know you made it happen. If "it" doesn't happen--reassess, reflect, re-direct, hold your head high and power onward.




Friday, May 4, 2012

Teen Writing Workshop

FIRST THINGS FIRST. THE WINNER OF MY "EMPTY COVER REVEAL GIVEAWAY" IS...COLEEN PATRICK!! 

HER NAME WAS CHOSEN RANDOMLY BY THE COMPUTER PROGRAM "THE HAT" 



Congratulations to Coleen and a big thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about EMPTY's cover. I really appreciate your help.

Switching gears now and onto the title of this post....

The workshops below are perfect for teen writers in the Philadelphia area. Both events have been specially created for teens to be FUN, INTERACTIVE, AND FUN

If any blog readers know a Philadelphia area teen or teachers of teens, it would be very kind of you to direct them to this post.

Each venue require a pre-registration. Contact the bookstore directly for details.

TEEN WRITING WORKSHOP
Sunday, May 6, 2013
3 PM
Phoenixville, PA
Topic: How to develop realistic characters
Click HERE for details!

TEEN WRITING WORKSHOP & BOOK SIGNING
Saturday, May 19, 2012 
12 - 1 PM
West Chester, PA
You will work with three local, debut, young adult novelists from the exciting online group The Apocalypsies. The Apocalypsies is comprised of nearly 150 debut young adult/middle grade/picture book authors with books releasing in the year 2012.

A book signing open to the public will follow the workshop from 1 – 2 PM where a $60 Chester County Book & Music Company gift certificate will be given away as a door prize! You’ll also have the chance to win other amazing prize packs!

Meet:
Moi ; ) CRACKED
Elisa Ludwig PRETTY CROOKED 
Eugene Myers FAIR COIN