Saturday, April 23, 2016

The clock is ticking

About six months ago, I received a Revise and Resubmit editorial letter from an agent. As I'm still revising per her (insightful) notes, I'm worried that my window of opportunity is closing.

How much time is too much time to turn around an R&R? Should I email this agent and give her an update or just resubmit when I'm confident my MS is ready? 

Most likely, she's not worrying about you. Revise and resubs are almost always (and should be!) a many months long process.  I've had R&Rs take a year or more.

I keep track of the writers I've asked for an R&R and try to check in with them at the end of the calendar year, mostly just to make sure they're alive and kicking and they know I am too. With the advent of social media of course, that's less necessary than it was some years back.

It's not rude to drop her a VERY short note saying pretty much what you've said here "I'm still revising per your insightful notes and looking forward to getting you something (insert number of months/days/decades here.)

On the other hand, it's not rude to just keep working and resubmit when you're ready.

Do NOT worry that your window of opportunity is closing and try to rush things. Rushed manuscripts are often rejected manuscripts and that's not what either of you are aiming for.

There are no rules on how long is too long on an R&R. Every ms is different and every writer works at their own pace.

The one thing I can tell you is that when writers send back revisions in a week it's most likely too soon.

One element of the R&R that is often skipped is the lying fallow period.  I know I've harped on this before but it's essential: let you manuscript sit for at least a month after you think it's done.  Go back in four weeks. You'll be amazed what you find.

I know this is true because the blog posts I work on for a week are hands down better than the ones I slap up in a day.

And recently blog reader Lucie Witt reminded us of the value of reading your work aloud:

Janet and many of the Reiders have long advocated for reading your work out loud to catch mistakes. My desk drawer books have either been shelved before I'm at that point or I just didn't think reading it out loud was necessary.

I'm now a convert.

I'm reading my R&R out loud before resubmitting it and I cannot believe how many typos I'm catching. I'm also finding the grammar mistakes I frequently make (comma splices, I hate you) jump out when I'm reading out loud.

Best of all is how it makes you hear your characters' voices. I'm fixing sentences that were fine as they were but sing with a small tweak. Sometimes that means purposefully disregarding the rules of grammar, like the Stringer Bell quotes here. [this is a comment from Thursday's post]

Anyways, if grammar and voice worry you, read your WIP out loud. I'm mad I waited so long to take that advice.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Always, always read your work to the wall. It's amazing the insight which bounces back at 'cha.
I used to read to the dog but the only time I really got feedback was when he wanted to go out. With animals it's all about bodily functions, with people, well it's pretty much the same. Crap is crap no matter how you spell/smell it.

Kitty said...

How true: what sounds good in your head doesn't always sound good when read aloud. Printing a copy usually helps me catch a few things, too.

Btw, I had never heard of "comma slices" before. Learn something new every day :~)

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

As somebody possessed of an R&R, who hasn't opened that file yet, I'm glad to know I'm doing something right. I think I'm ready to work on it soon; glimmers of some of the changes I can make occasionally occur to me at non-writing times, like at the grocery store when I'm trying not to tear the handlebar off my shopping cart in my rage.

As for reading aloud, it's so interesting to me the different ways we process reading silently and reading with our voices. Strangely, the work I tend to read aloud is the stuff I did in 10 minutes at my writing workshop, versus the work I've polished the hell out of and sent to magazines. Hmmm.......

Donnaeve said...

Good Saturday morning/afternoon/evening ya'll.

You betcha I'll be reading my WIP out loud. Little Dog tends to act sort of irritated by it, but he has plenty of room to escape the drone of my voice.

Not rushing is soooo important. I remember when I was working with Caroline Upcher and she'd sent me an editorial letter (the second one in a year long revision process) and I flipped back the changes in a week. Weeeelllll, THAT never happened again.

I have a writer friend who's been working on her R&R going on three years. I'm almost afraid to ask her about it, to be honest. Sometimes you have to know when it's done, right??? Stick a fork in it, and it's done and done. Sometimes I think working TOO long on something can distill it from work that was colorful to a piece that is bland.

Ms. Janet, almost every sentence you stated here regarding timing of work has really stuck out to me this morning.

Like this one, "I've had R&Rs take a year or more."

And this, "I'm still revising per your insightful notes and looking forward to getting you something (insert number of months/days/decades here.)"

This, "Rushed manuscripts are often rejected manuscripts..."

This, "Every ms is different and every writer works at their own pace."

I'm pointing out the sentences which state it takes time to write, and to write well - at a person's own pace. I'm sure this is generally known in the publishing industry, yet published authors - unless you're a NYTBA, Pulitzer Prize winner, multiple other awards winner - usually need to write a book a year.

Which leaves me with this. ? (if I could insert a quizzical dog face I would)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I have come to the conclusion that my life is one long run on comma splice.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Oh boy, OP, from Janet's mouth to God's ears. I too worried about this, but that fallow period- critical. It takes more time than you think, and it's no fun.

I had a request from an agent I adore at a conference. Let's call her Agent A. I sent the pages to her and they were eaten by an angry spam filter. She never got them. In the meantime, I got an R&R from Agent B.

Four months later I run into Agent A at a workshop. I tell her about lost request and the R&R. I am not nearly done yet. Agent A tells me to only send my best work. I think agents will always say that.

Being anxious, I sent my R&R back to Agent B at six months out thinking it was good enough, and because I had set myself a deadline.

It was rejected for reasons having little to do with my work. Agent B was no longer representing my genre and I do not think she read the revision. Thank the heavens above.

When proofing my book before sending to Agent A, and jumping back on query train, I realized I introduced new issues into the book that needed fixing. It is killing me not to send it. It is making me crazy not to query it, but due to this blog and the repeated advice to have a really finished book before you query it, I am waiting until the book shines like a new penny. OP, obey the queen and take the time you need. It will take as long as it takes, but the agent will wait.

Susan Bonifant said...

I share Kitty's method. I can't believe what jumps out on the physical page after screen reading.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, read out loud to the dog. Print out a copy. Work on other things while current manuscript percolates because as a Donna said, once you get published, the industry does seem to want a book a year. Backlog a few. Or twenty. I have to go write now.

Kae Ridwyn said...

OP, I agree with every single thing EM just wrote - wait until it's as perfect as it can possibly be, before sending it. And yes, I also only believe that now, because of this blog and the fabulous advice (and advisors!) here at the Reef. Thank you, QOTKU, and Reiders! :D

And don't spend time stressing about 'how long is too long'. Time wasted worrying about something over which you have no control, means less time that you're able to spend focusing on your R&R, after all...

Good luck!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

This may sound quirky but out loud screen reading is different than out loud page reading.
My brain assumes too much when I'm reading on screen, on paper it catches the error. (How's that for a comma splice?)
Okay, this is my third comment, OP take your time and DO IT RIGHT.

Sarah Meral said...

A bit off-topic...

A teacher in school taught me another trick for finding typos: read what you've written backwards, word for word. As in start with the last word, then read the second to last, etc.

When we read sentences normally our brain anticipates words and so we don't read each word for itself, the brain just figures out what the word probably is (like a text that is written in a mix of letters and numbers, that we can still read).
So if you read backwards, the brain can't anticipate the next word, because there is no order to the words and we read the words with much more attention than normally.

The times I used this method in tests in school (when I had time enough to read over what I've written), I actually found misspelled words :)

Unknown said...

I was in such a hurry to get my first manuscript queried, agented, published, etc. Needless to say, the publishing process has been uninterested in my personal timeline.

The WIP I am now revising requires many layers of world-building, and I find I am actually experiencing pleasure in settling in for the long haul.

Unknown said...

Donna, on your question about how one novel a year is still possible, I'm guessing for me it will be all about getting a good pipeline going so that one project is lying fallow while the other is in first draft while the other is in final edits.

Joseph S. said...

I’ve noticed any change in the medium you use to read your manuscript changes what you see.

My basic process is to handwrite and then type, editing when I type, then print a copy and edit it, and repeat the cycle.

I read “completed” chapters aloud; and sometime paragraphs or sentences while writing, typing or editing.

I recreate them lying in bed.

I found if I switch my manuscript to “block,” with 1.15 space between lines and decrease the right margin by somewhere between 20 and 26 points, it reads more like a book format and I can get a visual to check for balance and rhythm.

Putting a page in the body of an email changes what you see.

And if I go back to a perfect chapter a week later I change it again.

Kitty said...

OMG, it's comma SPLICES (not slices)! HA!

Joseph S. said...

I don't know how authors publish a book a year.

I'm hoping knowing people are waiting for your book and wanting to read it inspires one to more efficient writing.

The learning curve must help too. A writer learns what works and doesn't work with his readers, etc.

Maybe attracting an agent or an editor or good writers who want to be in your critique group helps eliminate the rabbit trails and self-doubt time eaters.

Who knows, maybe even the research time is reduced.

I'll worry about that more seriously after I get the first novel sold.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Opie, as the others have written, do as the Queen (and other commenters) says.

This recalls the glacial pace of the publishing world. No wonder. It's not due to just the agents and/or the publishers. It's also the author getting that story in shape. Sewing up those cute little outfits to send our babies out into the world? Who knew those buttons and frills and snaps and bow ties and the right shoes and the precisely placed headband took so much time. Not to mention keeping the baby poop-free.

Donna and Mark: 1 novel a year? (blanch)I hope I've learned a lot with this first novel so that I'm a lot quicker at getting those first and second drafts done.

BJ Muntain said...

I think it's important to remember that an agent isn't hanging on our every word. They have clients they're working their butts off for. They probably have other R&Rs and requested fulls and such out there. If they're REALLY interested in your story, they may wonder how it's going once in awhile, but they're not holding back their or their clients' business waiting for you.

It's not an inconvenience to them if you take the appropriate amount of time to improve your work to the best of your ability.

It's anxiety-making for the author, because an R&R or a full request is so exciting, we want to send everything RIGHT NOW, and get an answer RIGHT AWAY. But in order to get the answer we want, we have to be patient and do the necessary work.

Chocolate helps the anxiety, by the way.

For the book a year folks, I think that after awhile you develop your skill to a point that you can see what you're doing more clearly. That is, you get a feel for plot structure and character development as you draft, so you don't have to revise as much.

Also, as Mark mentions, working on more than one project at once helps.

Unknown said...

And by the way, I certainly don't mean to imply that one-book-a-year *should* be anyone's target. One thing I really enjoy about this blog is seeing the diversity of writing processes everyone has, and how what works for one person may not be right for someone else at all.

LynnRodz said...

Reading your WIP out loud is important and something we should all do. Having someone, or something, else read your words out loud is just as valuable, if not more. I can't count how many times I've read my ms out loud. When I thought it was finally finished, I had a text-to-speech app read my manuscript to me. What a revelation! I heard the missing 's' here or there where my brain had filled it in when I was reading. I heard the stilted dialogue on occasion where a contraction sounded better, etc. Small stuff, but important stuff.

Just like reading your words out loud, I can't stress enough how helpful it is to hear your words read to you.

CynthiaMc said...

I've been word-smiting all morning out here in my garden where it is unseasonably cool for Florida. I even thought about going to get a sweater (for some reason the shorts and flip-flops are fine, but my arms are cold in the breeze).

I read and polish as I go. The one time I tried to write straight through (after being told repeatedly by many people that was the ONLY way to do it)I've never wanted to pick it up again. Which is a shame, as it's a cute book (The Civilized Vampyre - written for NANO something or other a while back). But the thought of slogging through the whole thing again just makes me queasy. However, I can do the same paragraph a zillion times in a row while it's fresh and I'm fine with that. I just need to be done at the end. (I am happy to report that some of my favorite writers work that way as well).

I'm an actor, so when I read aloud I often do the blocking as well. It's amazing what you figure out when you try to do that. I also do the voices and assume whatever character is onstage at the time (I sure hope the neighbors aren't watching). Keeps it fresh, and I hope keeps it real.

Happy writing, y'all!

Lucie Witt said...

Figures the one morning I show up late my comment is actually featured in the post!

OP, I've been working on an R&R, too. Here's my general timeline:
*Received edit letter 9/9/15
* Started on the rewrite, which was HEAVY, the next week.
*Finished the rewrite 2/14/16
*Started a read through/edits 2/15/16
*Stared a second read through (big picture) 2/20/16
*started a fine tuning draft (searching for words like just/really/very) 3/4/16
*drafts out to betas/CPs 3/11/16
*checked in on 3/16/16 to say I'm still alive and plan to have draft in by the end of April
*Started incorporating beta edits 3/25/16 (after making a few changes from one beta, set aside for another 3 weeks)
*Finished remained of beta edits 4/16/16 through 4/17/16
* started read out loud edits 4/20/16
*plan to resubmit on 4/29/16, over seven months later

Whew. It will be over seven months by the time I have this sucker in.

Happy weekend, everybody!

Unknown said...

I MUST DO THIS! Read out loud, to the dog, to the wall, to Gwendolyn the Gargoyle, but read out loud I must. I get bored with the sound of my own voice and eventually, shortly, I just peter out and read to myself. Decide, "what's the difference?", but there must be a difference because EVERYONE keeps telling me I should.

Opie, congratulations on your revise and resubmit. Nothing to add, suggestion-wise, that hasn't already been said, except to wish you much success.

Craig F said...

Does being the proud owner of a manuscript in need of remodeling and repainting offer any opportunity for give and take with the agent?

If you are working your way through it and see something that would make it better (beyond the notes you are working with) and change it even more radically, can you ask the agent for an opinion? Or do have to just push forward and cross your fingers and toes?

Julie Weathers said...

As one who has been down the R&R line, I can heartily agree with the advice to set it aside and let the advice percolate through your brain before you rip into it.

Then, take your time and do it right.

Print it out in a different font than you're used to and maybe even a different color.

Read it aloud. Reading it aloud forces your brain to slow down and see what's actually on the page. Read it with color.

When you've done every single thing you think you can do, get a text to talk program and let a strange voice read it to you while you follow along on the written page. That's when you really note the cadence of the words. The computer won't get everything right, but it's surprising how close some get.

Writing is more than slapping words together on a page. A good story should sing when you hear it.

Set that puppy aside and let it rest, like good bread dough, and not in the car either, let it rise slowly.

Warning, stupid Julie story ahead.

We, BH (Beloved or Butthead Husband this is a you choose the adjective story) were setting a new electric pole on the place. The hole was dug and BH was guiding the pole into said hole while I was the wench running winch truck. I let the clutch out too fast, which killed the truck and the line dogged out so it was slack. It was an accident, but from all the screaming in the back you'd have thought I was deliberately trying to kill him. I wasn't...that time. The pole couldn't go very far anyway as it was tied off.

I decided I had better things to do than be screamed at and went to the to make bread.

Fifteen minutes later BH came stomping into the house. "What are you doing? I was talking to you."

"I'm making bread and, no, you weren't. You were screaming at me."

"You're what?" That was gasped out with a fair bit of incredulity.

"I'm making bread."

"But I need you to help me set that pole."

"Then I suggest you not scream at me. I'm making bread now."

"How long--" His voice started rising as did my brow. "How long is that going to take," he asked calmly.

"It depends."

I finished making the bread, wet a cloth to put over the bowl and started out to the car.

"Where are you going?" His voice was rising again.

"I'm putting the dough in the car so it will rise faster."

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of."

"Well, then I'm probably too stupid to run a winch truck, also. Do you really want to go down this road?"

"No, go put the dough in the car."

I know someone who got back an R&R from an agent. Cheers! He was done with his R&R a week later. I remembered mine which took over a year and nearly fell over. I said with some shock, "You're kidding."

We all ticked through the list of everything he should do. Nope, didn't have time for all that stuff. Agent was waiting. Honestly, it's hard for me to console someone who gets rejected when they get rejected for being stupid and not listening.

Yes, you can take too long. I've had a friend do that. Three years is apparently too long for some agents. However, the far greater danger is rushing a good R&R. Let that dough rise as long as it takes.

Julie Weathers said...

Once again, I am being selfish. My stars, my manners.

OP, congratulations. An R&R is a huge step in the right direction and a thrill. Take your time with it and do it right. We will keep good thoughts going for you. Regardless of which way it goes this is what you have to keep in mind. A very busy agent loved the story enough to take the time to make suggestions to improve it so they might be able to work with it. Big damned hero time. Good for you.

Joe, I don't know how people publish a book a year either. I think Tawna Fenske is on track to do two a year. Which reminds me, I need to add her to Rain Crow. It's a matter of honor, and a bet.

It doesn't do me any good to read to Gage the Wonder Dog since he's deaf as a box of rocks. Of course, that doesn't stop me from talking to him anyway, but he sleeps under my desk most of the time at my feet, especially since he started taking Benadryl, it would be inconvenient for both of us under there. I guess I could pretend we were camping out.

"Will, can you come get me?"

"Sure, where are you?'

"Well, I was under the desk reading to Gage and I'm stuck."

"No, Mom I won't come, but the guys with the white jackets will be there soon."

Lennon Faris said...

This is so good to hear. Being patient when you (think you) feel the end of the beginning is the most difficult time of all. To be compounded with the idea that you might be on borrowed time would make it worse. Nice to know that's not really an issue.

Joe & Julie - I also don't understand those speedy writers. Confession: I've read Meyers' bit on her writing process of Twilight. She goes through all these 'set backs' (8 rejections! the agony), and then at the end she says something like, '...and THAT's how I ended up being published from start to finish in 6 months.' ...what? Sometimes I re-read it just for the shock value again.

Karen McCoy said...

Perfect timing, as always--just when I don't think this blog could get any more useful, BAM! Hits me right between the eyes.

And 2N's, ha! I'm sure my life is measured in ellipses as well as comma splices.

Unknown said...

Sometimes I think this blog should be titled every stupid mistake I have ever made and why I shouldn’t have done it. Why I would ever be in a hurry to get in a revise and resubmit? After all, the agent probably won’t get to it for months. Why would I ever have wanted to do that?

Lesson learned. At least next time take the time to at least send the revision to my wonderful CP.

Julie Weathers said...


Someday we shall meet, I will forgive you for telling me about Meyers' traumatic journey to publication, maybe, and buy you an unhemlocked drink. Then perhaps we'll laugh about my journey to publication in only 60 short years.

John Frain said...

My heart started ticking at the title, but what a relief to read the rest of this post. Calm again, I can now start my marathon editing session.

One piece I'll add to the discussion. I've tried several of the text-to-speech options out there and there are a lot of bad ones. Best one I've found is called NaturalReader.

Prepare yourself for an eye-opener when you listen to your own manuscript. You'll have to run the first chapter twice on account of that big smile on your face while you're listening to someone reading your spellbinding sentences. Won't matter that it's AI, your mind won't be able to get that thought past your smile to your brain.

Karen McCoy said...

Great recommendation, John! There's also a book, "The Dog Says How." The title was inspired by a dog barking and the words "How" appearing on a voice recognition screen. I believe the cat's meows came up as "Why."

Jerry said...

I had great results by having my phone read my latest manuscript out loud. (I used Voice Dream to read it to me on a road trip.) The computer doesn’t know what your preconceptions are, it just knows some basic rules of grammar. And it doesn’t feel tempted to skip over the parts you know are fine.

Julie Weathers said...

All right. I've hogged the airways enough today. I'm going to turn the hourglass and get some words in and then go blog hopping.

We are nearly through the month of April. It's the 113th day of the year, which is about a third of the way through. If you're writing a novel, I hope you're putting stars on your calendar, marks on your walls, words on your pages. Whatever it takes to get there. No excuses.

Can't never did.

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible”
― Vladimir Nabokov

Make your words visible today.

BJ Muntain said...

I dunno, John. I've got this fear of hearing my words read. Perhaps having an AI wouldn't be as bad, but just the thought of hearing them out loud makes me want to hide under the desk.

Someday I'll have to read my own words to an audience, but you know what? By then, they will have been vetted by an editor, at least, and they will be all prettied up and ready to present. Right now, though, they feel half-naked and raw.

Celia Reaves said...

I could explain all about why it's so hard to find mistakes like typos and misspellings, because I'm a cognitive scientist and study that stuff. The bottom line, though, is that our brains are amazing at getting past the surface details to the meaning below, and therefore very bad at focusing on those surface details. The best way to catch mistakes is to use ALL the ways:
--Read it aloud, slowly
--Have an AI read it
--Read it in a different format (screen, paper) than usual
--Have someone else read it
--Put it away for a while and read it again later
--Reformat so every sentence is on a separate line and read the sentences in reverse order (last one first)

Your brain will hate you for this, because it is uninterested in the details you are forcing it to pay attention to. Be stern. If you are tough and disciplined you will have a shot at eliminating most (never all) of the mistakes. When you're a NYTBSA, get your brain a glass of good wine to say thank you.

Mark Ellis said...

When I first contracted for editing services, I noticed a printing charge on my first bill. These are pros who make a living reviewing the manuscripts of others, and, at least at this particular business, they always work from hard-copy pages.

Jenz said...

On reading aloud: if you have someone to read to, that really helps. My husband is my captive audience--he won't read my work on his own, but he'll tolerate me reading to him. Turns out he's a good gauge. If he stops me to ask a question, details are not clear enough. If he falls asleep, there's not enough tension. And if he actually turns away from his Clash of Clans game to listen, I know I've got it right.

Warning: Spousal readings may lead to arguments, hurt feelings, and manuscript clubbings. Proceed with caution.

Cheryl said...

I think the way a lot of people manage a book a year is that they have the time and fortitude to power through the first draft. Jim Hines recently (November-January-ish?) posted updates about his latest and he got his first draft done in about a month. But he writes novels for a living now so he's not spending eight hours a day doing something else.

I have that kind of time, but I'm still learning how to sit and do nothing but write for hours. I'm getting better at ignoring my internal editor* which means less time just staring at the screen thinking about wording (it takes me about ten minutes to write any given comment here). I still have to take frequent breaks, though, because I'll often have plot breakthroughs while doing other things.

* I did a cost/benefits analysis. What are the chances I will a) delete this scene or sentence entirely, b) rewrite the whole thing from a different POV, or c) find out in 10,000 words that my concept doesn't have legs? If the chances are high--and they usually are--there's no point in agonizing over word choice or cliches in the first draft.

Joseph S. said...

B.J. and John- All I can say is it was a great feeling when Chuck Sambuchino read my first page to the audience at the Writers Conference in February and it sounded so smooth.

Julie - Man, I hope I never get into an argument with you! But then again I love fresh baked bread.

Cheryl – One of my problems I can hold my concentration for about an hour and a half or two hours, and if anyone distracts me, even for 15 minutes, I can’t get my groove back for hours.

CynthiaMc said...

I'm gardening and listening to Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. She gives a short intro about how this book came to be, how it was very different than anything she had written before and no one knew what to do with it. Two things stuck with me 1) it was said to be too difficult for children but in her words "it was really too difficult for adults" and 2) how much fun she had writing it. Madeleine, thank you. You give me hope.

I write fast. I have to. I have a full time corporate job and I do theatre, which requires about that many hours a week when I'm in rehearsal or show. I don't have time to fool around. I have to make every minute count. Both my blog posts are done (it's been a long time since that has happened). I owe myself 10 more minutes writing on works in progress, 25 minutes in analyzing one of my favorite books (boy have I learned a lot from that), 25 minutes of organizing the treasure trove of writing I found in a box in the garage, and then the chihuahua and I may just spend 25 minutes in the hammock with Jack Reacher. But now Madeleine and I are off to garden. Happy writing!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Karen McCoy, I love ellipses, I use them all the time. My writing gets to take a breath, to find life again. Bad example, but all I could come up with after three hours in the car with a two year old, no snacks, no toys and a daughter with a migrain.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Oh fffflip, please don't tell me they're pouncing on comma splices, I'll have to vigorously go and bone up with my Odhams 1908 grammar guide. I'm not sure which of the cardboard boxes I left it in. Oh wait...

Brigid said...

Julie, I've spent five minutes puzzling over bread rising in the car. Then again, I'm currently boiling a hat in jello.

Lennon Faris said...

Julie - I love unhemlocked drinks! They're to die for! Wait, I'm getting mixed up...

Something to add to the Meyers comment, though (and this is still on topic): I'm not a hater, actually a *cough*fan*cough*, but the last book was undeniably anticlimactic: the heroine used her protective abilities to keep the giant anticipated war at the end from even happening! ...hurray?

Now, the last MOVIE was awesome. We went through the whole last battle scene, and it was pretty horrific for several m.c.'s, then found out that it was all part of the vision that a future-seeing vampire was revealing. The vision even happened in the last book but the reader never saw what it was, we just know that it happened.

My sister always said, 'maybe if Meyers had slowed down a little, she would have thought up that cool ending, too.' So even the bigwigs aren't immune to this phenomenon of writing too fast for their own good and should, perhaps, read this blog :P

Karen McCoy said...

That works, 2Ns! And wow, good job with all that! Yikes!

Craig F said...

On talking about a book a year: Scalzi recently said he loved his job because he could write a book in three to six months. That left him plenty of time for play.

I think part of the writing so quickly comes from growing confidence in your writing. There is only one way to do that and that is to write, write and write some more. Of course it helps if someone hands you 3.5 million for doing that.

Donnaeve said...

Someone at my book club asked me how long it took me to write DIXIE DUPREE. All said and done? 10 years. But there were years and I mean years, of not touching it. Then I wrote another right after it was finished - 5 months total. Editing and all. Don't ask, I've been trying to flashback to that time and remember how the hell that happened. It wasn't crap - this was the book I mentioned before - a London Agency, and a particular agent (Amanda Preston) loved it.

There's other factors that tend to settled on you after a book sells.

Anyway, Natural Reader - I'm not sure I'm on the right version. Is there one in particular I should use?

I ask b/c I chose from a list of names, and decided on "Crystal" to read some text and ho boy. If you can stand "don’t fit" read to you as Don T Fit, and "can't help," as Can T help, well okay. Me? Not so much.

Colin Smith said...

The advantage of commenting late is you don't have to come up with something clever and useful to say, because it's all been said!

So, I've just spent the past 10 minutes posting people's comments into Natural Reader and trying out different voices with your words. I don't think it's quite as smooth as it claims, but it's not bad. Certainly better than the text-to-voice software of 15 years ago. Donna, it said "don t" once for me, but after that it read "don't" properly. Don't know what's up with that.

Anyway, I'm not sure if I would use if for an entire ms., but it's fun! ;)

Anonymous said...

I have a different opinion about reading out loud. It just doesn't work for me. At all. My mind wanders -- yes, even while I'm reading -- and I can't concentrate.

There are three (or four or seven, depending who you ask) main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, kinesthetic [sight, sound, touch]. We all use some parts of each, but it's worth figuring out which is predominant for you. I am a highly visual learner. So much so that if you *tell* me something, I might not remember it. But if I see it written down? I remember.

Reciting my work doesn't work (har) for me. And it absolutely destroys the character voices I hear in my head when I read. What does work is seeing the words in a different format. With the story I'm writing on my blog right now, I polish the work in Word format until I think it's as good as I can make it. Then I paste it into my blog and hit the "preview" feature. And I instantly see mistakes and places to improve. Just instantly. I edit/revise the hell out of it in that "finished post" format. Is it perfect? No. I really think you need feedback from someone who has more distance and doesn't know what you *meant* to say.

It's like any other writing tool: Absolutely, try it. If it works for you, awesome. Use it. But if it doesn't, don't beat yourself up because you're different. Just find what works.

I strongly agree with the advice to let it sit, give it time. Even though right now that's more of a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of thing. :-/

John Frain said...

I suppose everyone is different, but I used NaturalReader and never had a problem with contractions. That was my biggest issue with so many text-to-speech programs on the market. It's so jarring when they pronounce a contraction that it takes you out of the story and it doesn't do you any good at all.

I went chapter-by-chapter through my 87,000-word ms using NaturalReader. I don't remember a single contraction hiccup. I do remember catching a lot of places where the rhythm was off or the sentence was clunky. For me, it was time consuming but well worth it. I imagine Ivona is a better product, hopefully they'll have a nice sale before I need it again. Can you say tax deduction! Oh wait, that was earlier in the week.

Christina Seine said...

Holy guacamole, I was going to email you Janet with this very question! I knew you were good, but I didn't know you had ESP. How did I not know that?

Finally starting to get over this stupid flu. However, we are now heading into Orthodox Christian Holy Week, which is sort of like boot camp, only with candles. *waves at Brigid* It all culminates on May 1st, which is Pascha, our Easter. This coincides (for me) with homeschool grades and work samples being due, a graduating senior, prom (tonight), a homeschool curriculum fair, Mothers Day coming up, 10,000 bees freshly installed in our hives, a garden to till, a full greenhouse of wee plants to transplant, a wholesale account asking for a bunch more soapy products and wee baby chicks arriving any day now. And all I want to do is sit and work on my R&R. And a GIANT BOX of BOOKS sits by my bed from the local library's used book sale, beckoning wickedly. I need a clone army this week.

Julie Weathers said...


In warm weather, temperatures in closed cars get very warm. So, putting a bowl of bread dough or pans of loaves rise twice as fast as normal. You can get the same effect by warming up your oven and turning it off, but why not use solar power?

Stephanie said...

I convert my ms to EPub using Calibre and then send it to an app called Voice Dream which reads it aloud. Then I listen to it while I read along. It helps to fine tune flow and word order, as well as spelling and grammar issues.