Doing Book Collages for Your Manuscript

Last week, Jenny Crusie shared on her blog, Argh Ink, about how she loves doing collages of her manuscripts.

She pastes images to match the moods, tone, and themes of each of her manuscripts as she’s writing them — sometimes literal images (a picture of the diner the hero just bought) and sometimes just papers or fabrics to evoke a mood (floral paper that represents the heroine’s mood at the beginning of the story). She said it helps her work out plot points and “see” the book visually, and the way the scenes fit together. Her collages are absolutely beautiful. (If you want to see some of them, and read the discussion between her, Anne Stuart, and Lucy March about doing book collages, you can read the full conversation at Argh Ink here.)

I have to tell you, when I first read this, I got a little giddy inside.

I had been saying for weeks that I was really in the mood to scrapbook again — to get out all my paper, scissors, tape, pens, ribbons, pop-up dots, paper cutters, hole punches, brads, ink, stickers …

(Well … you get the idea. … “Getting everything out” means it’s strewn across my dining table for weeks. I have an embarrassing amount of scrapbooking supplies.) Continue reading

What’s Up in the Writing Department

So one of the things that happened in this last year — as I got sucked into the vortex of my teenagers’ complicated lives — was that my writing clunked to the ground and has been left there, in the dust, for nearly a year. No edits. No rewrites. No new books. No new stories. I haven’t even continued to send the one finished manuscript out to a single agent. It’s just sitting there, in my hard drive. (Next to the one I haven’t finished yet. Next to the seven other books that I’ve started with ideas.)

And they’re all very, very dusty. …

My critique partner – who usually keeps me on my toes about these things – was also having a very stressful year, filled with long to-do lists and late nights, so we were mostly encouraging each other to “hang in there” since 2010. No edits. No rewrites. No new books. Just get from Sunday to Sunday with your family intact and your laundry done and your bills paid and your kids/inlaws/etc healthy. That was our primary focus.

So, come July or so, both of us suddenly looked up and realized we hadn’t written a thing in much too long. Continue reading

Writing the Dreaded Synopsis

 So this weekend I was able to steal a little time to force myself into a desk chair and write the synopsis for Adam and Simone’s story, Earning Wings. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pretty. But it had to be done.

So what’s a synopsis? For my non-writer friends, a synopsis is a 5- to 10-page summary of your book, which you send to prospective editors and/or agents so they don’t have to read the whole thing. It describes the main characters, tells all the conflicts, how the conflicts are resolved, and explains how your book ends.

And it’s painful to write.

The reason it’s so hard to write is that you’ve just spent a year or two (or three!) wrestling with every single word of this 300-page story, so to write it again — in some kind of abbreviated format — is a little excruciating. Especially because you don’t know what to leave in or take out. You know you need to stick to “bare bones” to keep it to 10 pages or less, but you also wish you could include that great scene that has all the flavor of the book, and omg, I have to include the dialogue where they first fall in love, and what about that funny secondary character when he does xyz, etc., etc. … It’s killer. Continue reading

The Ever-Important First Five Pages

So I was writing over at Popculture Divas last week (new URL, by the way: I wrote about favorite first lines of novels, which is a topic I covered here, too, but it’s a topic I never tire of. (If you never tire of it either, please go over to Popculture Divas and leave me a comment!)

Anyway, it’s particularly on my mind lately because I’m studying my own first lines of the manuscripts I’ve written — studying first five pages, really.

The first five pages are of huge importance to a novel. Noah Lukeman even wrote about this in a how-to book called The First Five Pages, which I read (although I found it almost too basic. I guess I wanted something more).

The reason the first five pages are of such importance to writers is two-fold: for one, they’re important to your reader. Publishers say that readers often open a book in a book store, scan the first page or two, then make their buying decision. With Amazon, readers do the same thing with a click of a button, scanning the first few pages, then deciding if they like the style enough to read the whole thing.

But the first five pages are also of enormous importance when a writer is trying to sell a manuscript. Continue reading

New Writing Project!

So in my quest to truly be the Queen of Never Finishing Anything, I decided last week to … er … launch into a whole new writing project.

No, Fin and Giselle’s story is not finished. No, I haven’t sent any more queries for Adam and Simone. No, my Orange County blog is not done. …

And YET! I can still, without even batting an eye, start a whole new story with brand new characters and not even look back.

{deep sigh}

(I know — This is probably why I’ll never be published. …)

But here’s what happened: I found out Harlequin was launching a new line called “Historical Undone,” which is a series of tiny little e-books — they’re each only 10,000 to 15,000 words, which is basically a short story. And I thought, wow, how fun! I love reading historical romances, and I love the *concept* of writing them, but they seem daunting to me — all that research, you know? Regency historicals remain the ever-popular favorite, which I know nothing (historically) about. And they’re followed closely in popularity by any other time in English history, followed then by any time in Scottish/Irish history. Continue reading

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