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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Second Month Evaluation

I'm two months into this blog. Let's pause and reflect, shall we?

I haven't gained any more public followers, although I think, based on outside conversations, I have more readers than I suspect.

I have learned how to post a poll and links and move things around layout-wise.

The thrill of writing daily has faded into duty. I knew it would, as life caught up with me. I suppose as my writing goals become more serious, it is logical my writing about those goals would follow suite (it is suite, right? like suite of cards?). I'm fighting it, though. I want to keep on the sunny side of writing. The weather hasn't helped my mood, but as The Wise Woman would say, "You cannot be princess of others until you are princess of your moods."

Now that the contest has begun, I feel very calm. I suppose that's because it is officially out of my hands.

I want to make it very clear, as I write about the contest, I am fully aware I am over-functioning. In the real world, I would tell you about it and leave it up to you to do as you will. In the real world, that's how I work. Personal responsibility applies to everything, even contests.

However, since this is important to me, and if you're reading this blog it may be important to you, I will help you as much as I can without violating my conscience.

If you notice the time stamp on this post, you may wonder what I'm doing up at this sacred hour.
Cats are no respecters of daylight savings time. Cats won't give you an extra hour of sleep. In fact, cats will wake you up an extra hour early just to make sure you don't forget to wake up at the usual time. We're doing some retraining, but I'm going to be a little fuzzy for the next week or so. My apologies to those of you who must deal with me in the real world.

As far as the contest goes, I read through the prospective premises last night. Turns out I'm very picky about my reading subject matter. A few premises I dismissed out of hand, not because they didn't sound interesting, but because I would never read that kind of book. I tended to be interested in the fantasy ones. Shocking!

Anyway, I've chosen 11 to vote for, so far. I will probably go back and add some. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I don't form snap judgments. I have to gather information and mull things over.

I'm following dizzyjam's advice about how to choose. I credited it to Jeff the Publisher, but it's one of his senior members who actually wrote the post.

Keep in mind, some writers don't know how to write a good hook. This doesn't mean their book is bad. In the next round, we'll get the back cover blurb and that might make all the difference in your interest level. If you're remotely interested, there is no harm in voting for it.

I must also admit, I'm looking at the word count. At 166,000 words, Star of Justice is a little over 300 pages single-spaced. I think 100,000 words is the average for a Christian romance novel, and that would be about 250 pages. Some of these premises have 78-80,000 words. I don't know if that means they are amazing writers who know how to make every word count, or beginning writers who have a good idea that's a little thin in execution. Of course, I've read some fantastic books that were small and to the point: The Myth Adventures series by Robert Aspirin springs to mind, or anything by George MacDonald. A book doesn't have to be long to be great. Also, if the story is a great idea but a little thin, I'm sure the publishers/editors would be willing to offer some help in bulking it up.

My dilemma is whether or not to assume these writers are like me. Are they experienced but unpublished? Is this their first foray into the publishing world? Do they have good ideas but lack ambition? (this is me.) Or, are these real newbies, eager to jump into the writing life and get it going but maybe still lacking some skills? Wow, that sounds arrogant even for me.

I'm not saying I've got it all figured out. I don't. But I have read manuscripts that are more eager than coherent. A good story is a balance of many elements. It's hard to do. I've also heard good pitches that were poorly executed. Just because the hook is a zinger doesn't mean the book will deliver.

Hmm. That stream of thought wasn't helpful, was it?

It will be hard to figure out from the tiny slice of writing we're allowed in the premise contest who is capable of presenting a good story. I suppose that is why the prize is a review, not a publishing contract. Marcher Lord Select has already figured this out. It's one of the reasons I like them.

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