Friday, December 15, 2006


So, a few weeks ago we had a discussion as to when and why you should abandon a WIP or a ms. I confessed that after completing half of my WIP, I was ditching it...just wasn't feeling the vibe and getting the sense that it was the best work that I could put out there. Don't get me wrong: when I reread it, it wasn't bad. In fact, it was pretty good even, but something about it wasn't gelling for me - I didn't feel that necessary tug to write each day and I wasn't fully connecting with my characters. Stymied, I threw in the towel.

Fortunately, I'd also made the wise decision to send the 150 pages to my even more wise agent. She read them, said she really liked them, and then we both got busy and forgot about the project entirely. (And I decided to forget it permanently!) Well, she emailed me a few days ago saying that she definitely wanted to keep moving forward with it, but had a suggestion. And this suggestion was brilliant, so I wanted to pass it along to all of you who are equally stuck. It was so simple, but really breathes new life into the book and its characters.

And all she said was, "Why not make the heroine a few years older? I feel like her personal life makes this more chick lit than it should be, and by making her older, you can add other dimensions to her life." And damn, I mean, it seems like SUCH a simple suggestion, but she's SO on point! By putting her in her early-thirties rather than her late-twenties, I open up the possibility of making her married, maybe unhappily, maybe with kids, maybe considering cheating, maybe her husband is cheating, maybe they're just unhappy with no solution, maybe she has mommy guilt, maybe they can't conceive, maybe they got married too young, maybe, maybe, maybe. There are so many different paths that this character can now go down...instead, she was sort of stuck in this single-gal in the city mode, which I just wasn't feeling.

So...what's the point of this post? If you're stymied, consider playing around with tweaking certain characteristics of your main characters. Make them older, younger, in a different city, unemployed, single, married, etc, etc, etc. Just play around with them in your head - you might find that you're newly inspired or find a better way to tell your story. It's not always easy. I realize that I'm going to have to reconstruct part of the plot to accommodate these changes, but I think this might be what the ms needs. It really allows me to give the character much more depth than I'd given her before, which means that her evolution from the beginning of the book to the end (always a critical part of ANY book) will not only be more thorough, it will also be more honest.

What do you think? Could any of your characters use a little tweaking?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Loving LexisNexis?

In renewing my AvantGuild membership today, I discovered one of the benefits was a significant discount to access LexisNexis. It's still not inexpensive, but I've heard such great things about this search engine to be tempted. Do you or have you ever used it? Is it worth even the discounted price?

I don't use LN, not because it's not a wondertool - it is- but because, as you mentioned, it's incredibly pricey and given the cost, it simply doesn't seem worth it. That said, I just checked out the AvantGuild discount, and you can now gain access to Nexis for $59 a month. Which wouldn't break the budget, but, I'll argue, still probably isn't worth it. But I'm posting this question because I'm open to being swayed, and I'd love to hear from you guys whether or not you use LN and if so, why you pay for it.

Here's why I still won't be forking over my $$: LN is definitely an incredible search tool. No doubt about it. BUT, given how exhaustive the free online search engines are, I've really never found a need for it. Between google, Yahoo, pubmed, etc, you can truly track down just about anything you're looking for. I dunno - maybe LN makes it quicker (I really don't know), so if time is really money for you, then LN might be a worthwhile investment. But unless you're doing painstaking research and doing a lot of it at that, I can't imagine why you'd need it. I report on dozens of studies and track down dozens more experts and authors each month, and google, etc, have never failed me. So why shell out $708 dollars a year (granted, they're deductible) when my system is working perfectly well?

So those are my thoughts on it. But again, since I'm not a LN user, I'd definitely love to hear from others. I really could be wrong on this...maybe LN is the tool I didn't know I'd been missing all of my life!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blurbing Etiquette

Admin note: my computer broke last night, one day before my new one gets here! Sigh. So I'm working off my husband's laptop. Thus...I don't have access to my pics of our new peanut. But once I do (once the old one is repaired and I upload all of my data to the new one), I'll post 'em. Or I'll try to grab some from my husband's files in the next day or so...but the pics are on his computer at work, so it's all a little convoluted. And another random thought: I was watching Field of Dreams this morning (nursing gives you A LOT of TV time), and is it really possible that the movie was made 17 years ago??? Am I seriously that old??? Anyhoo...moving on to business.

Question of the day: When looking for blurbs, do you send the manuscript along with the letter asking for a blurb, or do you wait until they commit to checking it out and possibly blurbing you first?

Funny, it never, ever, would have occurred to me to simply send a manuscript without asking. I mean, isn't this like telling someone that they have to do you a favor rather than hoping that he will? But what's odd is that this discussion recently came up on one of my writer's boards, and yes, some people had indeed received advice in the past to just go ahead and send the ms without previously contacting an author. And I have to say, I think this is just so wrong. For several reasons. Here's why:

1) If a ms or galley showed up at my doorstep, and I had no previous knowledge of its arrival, to be honest, I'd probably either overlook it, put it aside for when I got around to it, or disregard it altogether. In other words: ms meet trash can.

2) It operates on the assumption that this person is happy and ready to accommodate you, when, in fact, many authors don't or can't give blurbs due to a variety of factors.

3) It takes the personal relationship out of it. Most authors whom I contacted were happy to read the ms, but what many of them responded to (or so they told me), was how appreciative I was of their time, how I let them know that I was a fan of their writing, and how I also made the effort to reach out to them, not just as a writer, but as a potential contact, friend and reciprocal future blurber. To simply toss a galley in the mail and then include a note removes this critical step, in my mind.

A better approach, in my opinion, is to email the author beforehand, explaining why you'd love for him to take a look at your ms (i.e you adore his books, you have crossover readers, etc), assuring him that there is certainly no obligation to offer a blurb, and then thank him in advance for any time he can offer. Period. If he says no, it's not personal. Thank him anyway. If he says yes, drop the ms in the mail. Don't expect a blurb...and if he then offers one, be gushingly appreciative. have you guys approached getting blurbs? Have any of you ever been sent an unsolicited ms?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wow, Things Got Busy Fast

Okay, juggling two kiddos is a lot more chaotic than juggling one! Before I delve into anything domestically-related, I just wanted to add in a quick admin note. I know that there are a lot of new readers to the blog (welcome!) thanks to the Writing White Papers. What a fabulous honor to come home to!'s how things work: you have a question? Send it to me at or post it in the comments section. Given that things are a wee nuts around here right now, I'm probably not going to post every day, but will update the blog a few times a week (starting this week, around midweek or so...I'll just see how crazed I am), so I'm happy to keep taking questions and answer them if and when I can. Do note that I get A LOT of spam, so please try to indicate that it's a blog question or something like that in the header so I don't ding it.

With that out of the way, THANK YOU all so much for your well-wishes!! You guys rock. We're settling in and she's a great sleeper and nurser, so I feel very lucky. Not to mention that her big brother is obsessed with her and not at all thrown off or jealous. (Of course, the presents that "she" brought him probably helped!) :)

I'm going to post some pictures, but have to sit down and figure out how the hell to do it...Once my brain can wrap itself around that seemingly ridiculously complicated task, they'll be up.