It’s been about 3 weeks since I last blogged. I never meant to
go that long between posts, but I knew I’d be writing 6 more Ghost Detectors books so I spent every extra moment finishing up the novel I started this
As you may remember (if not click here), I began crafting a wreath to mark my writing progress. Then I set up these
rules for myself:
Only add a ribbon for 650 or more words a day.
Only add a ribbon for current novel. Blogging doesn’t count. :)
Only add a ribbon for fresh work. Not revision.
I do spend a fair amount of time revising pages for my critique circle. And I rarely write on weekends. So here’s how the wreath is
shaping up. (Yes, I changed out the original patterned ribbon. Long boring story.)
Now here’s why it’ll take an eternity to finish. I don’t
want to include the Ghost Detectors. Those books are under contract. That’s
motivation. I don’t feel a need to mark the progress.
So it seems the next wreath update will be sometime next year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to
I probably shouldn’t blog on days that I’m sad. It has a
potential for disaster. But I’ll put it out there anyway.
Here’s what happened today. Someone I cared about passed
away, I received a rejection, and I added over 1000 words to my humorous YA
WIP. The words I added weren’t necessarily funny, but in time, I can punch them
Getting a rejection on a day I learn of a friend’s death has
me questioning my own writing and mortality.
Is there enough time? Publishing is a slow business. I’m a
slow writer. And anything I write needs time to sizzle before seeing print.
I’m starting to think seriously about indie pubbing.
Yes, I know I’ll have to pay an editor.
Yes, I know I’ll have to hire a graphic artist.
Yes, I know it’s a full time business that requires a lot of
time. Oh, there’s that word again…time.
The majority of my followers here are pro
traditional. You’ll try to talk me out of it. That’s okay, I haven’t
even talked myself into it.
But in time…I’m going to have some major decisions to make.
I like to think I’m pretty good at writing description, even though
I use it sparingly in my books. I don’t like reading a lot of it, so I don’t
write a lot of it. I put in just enough to spark an image in the reader's mind. Some people prefer reading a mile-long paragraph describing a
character’s dress. Not me.
But I do want to see the characters –their
mannerisms, expressions, actions, reactions – the overall package. A couple of cleverly
written sentences usually does the trick. And once in a while, one word can do it
too. I’m talking about that one word that shows us body language, facial
expression and emotion.
If you remember from a few controversial blog posts ago, I collect dialogue tags. Sadly, that well has dried up. So I’ve started collecting one-word descriptions. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
And I'm confident that these are just the beginning.
Remember, one-word descriptions should only be used occasionally, otherwise your novel will read
like Dick and Jane (and never get into an editor's hands).
Ah...it's so nice to have a hobby. Do you guys have any to add?
A few years ago I wrote this darling little picture book called Happy 100! I thought it was just adorable.
Then my critique group read it...
And my agent...
And a couple of conference editors...
I quickly learned that my adorable
picture book wasn't so adorable. And it wouldn't sell.
First, here’s the 500-word manuscript:
by Dotti Enderle
is Grand-Gran’s one-hundredth birthday. One hundred! Even the TV weatherman
knows that’s a big deal!
is giving her gifts of one hundred.
should I give her?” I ask my dog, Ringo.
“Erf!” Ringo says.
think that means one hundred doggie treats. “Don’t be silly,” I tell him.
is giving Grand-Gran one hundred dollars in a birthday card. But she’s
cheating. It’s just one bill with one hundred printed on it. Of course if it
was one hundred individual dollars she wouldn’t be able to seal the envelope!
what can I give her? One hundred buttons? One hundred peppermints? A book with
one hundred pages? One hundred is a lot!
about one hundred new sets of teeth? Yeah! One set for smiling. One for munching.
One that glows in the dark in case the lights go out.
sounds awfully expensive.
can I give her?” I ask Ringo again.
drums his tail on the floor. “Erf!”
think that means one hundred fleas. “Don’t be silly, Ringo. If Grand-Gran had
one hundred fleas, we’d have to bathe her outside in smelly dog soap.”
I shouldn’t have said dog soap. “Come out from under the bed, Ringo. We have to
think of a gift for Grand-Gran.”
know. Since Grand-Gran loves to laugh,
I’ll make one hundred silly faces.
That last one looked too much like the first one. I could never think up one
hundred different silly faces.
what can I give her? One hundred
bottle caps? Trading cards? Pieces of spaghetti? And where would I get any of
those things so quickly?
how about one hundred shiny stickers for her scooter? Then she’d be the
flashiest granny on bingo night.
(Art note: she digs through a drawer or box)
a raspberry sticker. And a purple-slurple. And here’s a blue one that’s the
same color as Grand-Gran’s hair.
a second. I don’t have one hundred stickers. I don’t even have ten! I’ll have
to think of something else.
and I go outside so the fresh air can restart my brain. There’s a large pile of
raked leaves, waiting for me. “KER-PLOP!” I shout, diving in. The leaves are
soft and crisp and…
it! I’ll give Grand-Gran one hundred leaves to play in.
count them out in stacks of ten.
Suddenly, one hundred doesn’t seem like a lot. It’s not nearly enough leaves
for jumping around.
me out, Ringo. What can I give her?”
think that means, “I give up!”
hundred,” I say, looking around.
hundred acorns? One hundred feathers? One hundred mud pies? No. Grand-Gran
would probably have more fun making her own mud pies.
think hard. It has to be more than just one hundred of something. It has to be
super special. Super-duper special.
curls next to me and licks my hand.
Grand-Gran blows out the one hundred candles on her cake, I’ll give her my
note: Character is on one side giving Grand-Gran kisses on the cheek, while
Ringo is on the other side, licking her face)
Okay, so here are the
reasons I assumed it would sell.
1. Voice. I really
thought I’d nailed the thoughts and speech of a little girl. So playful. So innocent.
2. Concept. Most
every kindergarten class celebrates 100 Days of School. So I naturally assumed
most every kindergarten teacher would want it for their classroom.
3. Ringo. Kids love dogs, right? And the MC’s relationship
with Ringo is sweet and cute. A real selling point…uh...right?
Now here are the hard facts. The reason this book will never
1. First person point of view. Yes, there are some first person
picture books out there, but not many. Unless you’ve nailed a surefire kid-pleaser,
be prepared. Agents and editors don’t like first person PBs. People in the biz will agree that PBs
should be third person.
2. Concept. There’s nothing wrong with writing a book with
100 as the subject matter. That's great. But it was pointed out to me that the percentage of
kids with great-grandmothers turning 100-years-old is miniscule. Small children can’t relate.
3. Nameless. What’s the MC’s name? Yeah, I don’t know
either. It’s my understanding that little ones do want to know. It’s part of
connecting to the story.
4. Ringo. I genuinely thought he was an asset, but a few
people felt he was a gimmick. It was never my intention, but I can see their
5. Of all the reasons for rejection, this is the BIGGIE. The story's ending. Let’s all say it in
unison, “Predictable!” Most everyone who critiqued or considered this
manuscript pointed that out. I have wondered if a 3-year-old would guess it, but
3-year-olds aren't buying books, editors are. And editors have tons more experience
in bookselling than I do. Believe me, I've banged my head against the wall repeatedly, trying to shake out
a new ending. It’s just not there.
There are probably a lot more reasons for rejection than what I've listed. Feel free to
point them out. We’re all here to learn and grow.
Another huge reason this book won’t
sell? I just published it on my blog. :)
So what’s been your picture book experiences? Successes?
Failures? If you have little ones at home, I’d love to know what you’re reading
to them and why they want to hear it over and over.
I’ve been a moongazer all my life. Yes, even when I thought it
was made of green cheese. That’s what led me to write my 2008 novel, Man in the Moon. That book was so much fun to write, especially my choice of breaking the chapters into phases of the moon. It makes me sad that Delacorte didn’t
indicate the paranormal aspects in their rather blasé jacket blurb. When is the moon not magical?
OK, why am I telling you all this? Because I was doing a bit of
cleaning up and found an unopened box filled with copies. And since books
are meant to be shared, I’m offering 3 free autographed copies to my faithful followers. Just tell me in the comment section your thoughts,
experiences, romances, etc., that somehow involved the moon. I’ll send copies
to the 3 I think really shine. And be sure to leave a contact email address so I can notify you.
Let me say first off, I don’t have a creative bone in my body. I
can’t sketch or paint or sew...though I can do a fair job of writing. So keep that
in mind as I instruct you on creating a craft.
I write most every day. Some days the prose flows like the Hamilton Pool falls (Google it), and some days I have to pry those words out with bottlenose pliers. Either way, I always feel good after a productive day.
But unless I print out what I’ve written, I just see words
on a screen, nothing tangible. That’s why I've started this experiment. I call it a Writing Wreath. Right now it looks like this.
Snapped by amateur photographer
Yeah, I know, it’s just a stretched out coat hanger and some bits of ribbon. But at the end of each writing day, I'll attach another snippet, then another
and another until eventually they're all scrunched together, nice and fluffy.
Then I can
trim and edge it and make it look more like an actual wreath.
Like I said, it's an experiment. I have no idea if it'll represent a completed novel or just many months of writing. But when I can’t squeeze another ribbon onto it, I'll have it figured out. Until then, I’ll occasionally
report the progress.
Okay, so I do have a little creativity. But you, my faithful
followers, probably have a lot. Suggestions?