Silver Lining Synopsis

So, the one “good” thing about all of the family issues that silenced my muse is that I was able to make some really good notes in an old fashioned notebook about the synopsis. My husband took the baby for a couple hours while I turned those notes into a synopsis.

With the first draft written, I can read and revise it on my iPad. (I have yet to find a way to type with any ease of the iPad while sitting on the recliner with a baby on my lap. Revising and reworking seems a bit easier, although still clunky).

I have already put in several revisions, and while it’s not done, it’s looking better.

I am going to send it to mt beta reader to see what she thinks before trying to revise it further.

Perhaps, in a couple of weeks, I will have my submission package finalized. Then, I will have to summon the courage for the pile of rejections coming.

One step at a time, one step at a time.

Detour – Continued

That fever my little one was running? Well, it never went away. I got that “mom” feeling late at night, and I sat up with her listening to her struggle to breathe. My husband thought it might just be congestion, but I was sure it was more than that.

I listened to that inner mom voice. A trip to urgent care and several x-rays later, and the doctors determined she has pneumonia. Pneumonia in an adult is bad. Pneumonia in a baby is really bad.

So between medicine, breathing treatments, and soothing and comforting her, my muse has gone silent. Not unexpected, really. I have never been as stressed as I was as I waited for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with my baby. Not even when I broke both of my own legs.

This will put my outlining skills to the test. And my characterization. And a whole bunch of other writing skills. It also means I’m behind on my day job. I feel bad for my co-workers as this is a really busy time of the year for us, but evening logging in from home, there is almost nothing I can accomplish while tending a baby this sick.

We’ll figure things out. It looks like she’s going to be fine, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

Next Up – Synopsis

After slogging through a query letter (thanks to my two beta readers who really helped me with it!), now I am supposed to write a synopsis.

There is far more information out there on query letters than on a synopsis, so I dropped a question in the inbox of a freelance editor’s blog I follow. He was kind enough to answer with more detail, and industry experience, than what I’ve seen out there.

Still, it’s “ugh”. I don’t want to write a synopsis. I want to work on my current project.

Know what? It’s still a hobby to me. I have published nothing. My day job pays the bills. I am going to run with the glory and joy of a new project until the words stop coming like rain on the 4th of July. (Maybe that’s just my 4th of July, but whatever).

I will write the synopsis. And revise it 17-18 times if my query is any measure, but I will do it when it doesn’t suck the joy out of the project I am currently working on.

No, not very professional of me. But I’m not a professional writer. Yet. Maybe not ever. I’m not published, and I may never be. But inspiration is so fleeting, and my muse loves to hide for long stretches at a time. That seems like a better time to take on the job aspects of writing a synopsis  rather than when my muse is screaming in my ear and I can’t find the time to listen or type fast enough when I do have some time !

Detour

I have been super excited about my new project. Characters are alive, the story is taking shape, my outline is already 9 pages long as I include snippets of dialogue and other key points as they pop into my head.

Sure, a bunch of it will get cut and reworked, but it’s been heady.  A taste of what made me love writing.

And then our baby got sick. She’s been running a fever of 101-103 (with Tylenol) for three days as I write this. At day 5, the doctor wants to see her (but not before, as he says little ones sometimes go through this, especially little ones in daycare). I had to take off of work. My husband had to take off of work. You’d think a day home would have seen some writing done, but a sick baby allows no time in front of a computer. She needs to be held, comforted and cuddled. She’s a baby. She’s sick. She hates being sick, and she’s mad as hell about it. And she lets you know. Constantly.

One of us has to be dedicated to her while the other deals with the rest of the things a household requires. Food. The other kid. Laundry. Dishes. Recycling. That’s just the few my sleep deprived brain can name that needed doing this morning.

It’s hard enough to deal with a sick little one, but it’s compounded by frustration. Sure, writing isn’t my day job, but its important to me, and I’d finally found this spark of energy.

I don’t want to lose this rhythm, this grove.

I’m hoping the time I have spent on the outline will see me through.

If not, I have to find something that will next time. This isn’t the first or last time that real life is going to get in the way.

New Project

There is nothing like a new project. It’s exciting.

I started working on an outline for the story. Rather than the very structured, rigid outlines I used for term papers, I have gone more with a stream of conscious flow. Snippets of conversations, or conversations I want to be had. Background. Plot ideas. Protagonists and their motivations. Antagonists and their motivations.

The outline itself is a bit sprawling and I am trying to tame it as I go. But it’s working better, allowing me to select snippets and insert them into the story as I go rather than being bound.

At 9 pages and over 3,000 words, the outline is a beast unto itself.

But this has helped me produce almost 10,000 rough draft words. That is an amazing amount for me to accomplish in such a short time. Yeah, they’re all garbage and will need to be rewrtten and reworked, but that’s how all of my rough drafts are.

I just need to find a way to keep the momentum!

Yeah, that synopsis I was going to work on . . . not so much this week.

Query

So, I have finally finished the query to both of my beta readers’ satisfaction!  I now have to start work on a synopsis. I have looked for some guidance on how to write one of these, and I will start that when inspiration wanes for my current manuscript. It is going so well right now, I just don’t want to rock the boat!

Here is the query letter after about 40 revisions. I am only slightly exaggerating . . .

 

Dear Person’s Name From the Writer’s Digest,

Discovering that her master plans to sacrifice her in a dark ritual, Brelynn flees and arranges to trade her secrets of sorcery to Aerius’s king in return for asylum in the holy city. Her master wants her back and unleashes his undead armies to retrieve her.  Brelynn’s only chance to reach Aerius is the famed lich slayer Sir Marcus Valerian, a devout Paladin that suspects her of darker intentions. But Marcus swore to obey his king, and he fights beside her as they journey to Aerius.

As they travel together, they feel things neither expected. Brelynn tries to harden her heart, believing Marcus could never love a former servant of darkness. Marcus struggles to reconcile the teachings of his order with his feelings for her.

Determined to capture her and complete the ritual, Brelynn’s master launches a devastating assault that threatens to destroy Marcus and Brelynn’s love and devour their souls.

KNIGHT OF VALOR is a 76,000 word paranormal romance about love, self-realization and sacrifice.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

My Name

My E-Mail Address

https://betheredragons.wordpress.com/

Something New

I have started thinking through a new story idea. Completely new. And I am excited, filled with hope and potential. My mind is racing. Characters are talking in my head again.

I started writing an outline, but rather than my normally organized, bullet pointed outline, this is more stream of conscious.

Maybe it’ll work better, maybe not.

Funny thing, it’s the same difficult character from the other story. Put in a new story in a new way, and I feel like it works. I keep him out of his center of power without weakening him. It lets him be ruthless without asking him to be ashamed of it. It lets him be both protector and conqueror.

The female lead is the same and different. It lets her be softer, less powerful, but still in control. I think. I need to work more on her.

I am planning to save all those thousands of words on the other stories and try to recast them with different characters.

I am just glad they are interrupting my thoughts again.

 

Oh yeah, I am still working on that query. Slugging through it and very, very thankful for my two beta readers who haven’t cut me any slack on it.

Creative Rejuvenation

Writing a query letter is hard. Much harder than I expected, and it further tapped my drying well of creativity.

After slogging through issues with a character and his story, writing a query was one of the worst things I could have done for my creative rejuvenation. I don’t have a lot of time to spend writing between my day career, kids, and spouse. The time I do have, I would like to be enjoyable, or at least not a drain.

The flash fiction challenge I participated in almost made things worse. I “rolled” a combination to write about that I just couldn’t do. Then I remembered I am not in school. I am not being graded on this. I can decide not to do it and there are absolutely no repercussions.

I rerolled and wrote something else entirely.

I am not yet ready to tackle my difficult project, but I do think I am ready to try something new.

Diamonds Part 2: – Undead Gumbshoe

DH and I actually met in a creative writing class, but he hasn’t written since before our oldest child was born. However, this Flash Fiction Challenge by Chuck Wendig  inspired him to write his first story in years. I am super excited to share it!

 

Undead Gumbshoe

            They’d say I’d been bought.  That Boss Malone had finally found my price.  Or breaking point.  Or he’d got some dirt on me so I’d to dance to his tune.  Let ’em talk.

Boss Malone and I had a mutual understanding.  I hated him, and he hated me.  I’d been trying to topple his empire for years, and his goons had tried to erase me for just as long.  Neither of us had any luck.  So why was I trying to track down his kidnapped daughter and return her safely?

Not for him, you can bet.  But it wasn’t her fault her dad was scum.  And if I turn my back on an innocent just because of who her pop happens to be…well, that’s not something I do.

There’d been no ransom demands.  That had me worried.  Had Malone worried, too.  There were rumors about what Papa Thorne did to his victims.  I didn’t know if they were true, but I hoped for her sake they weren’t.  Malone may be scum, but Papa Thorne taking over Malone’s territory wasn’t something I wanted to see.

Malone had your typical twisted kingpin code-of-honor.  He’d do whatever he wanted to as long as he could justify it according to his personal rules.  He ruled by fear when necessary, but he also handed out generous rewards to those who helped him.  Cops, judges, city attorneys…Malone could be very good to you if he had reason.

The only tools Thorne used were Fear and Murder.  I guess you could say he had a personal code too.  He never offered to bribe anyone.  If you saw something you shouldn’t have, he wouldn’t offer to buy your silence.  You were too terrified to ever say a thing, or he erased you on the spot.  Didn’t matter how high up you thought you were either.  Cops, judges, city attorneys…a lot of them had disappeared without a trace after being involved in a case against Thorne.  It tended to keep happening until charges dropped.  The ones left wouldn’t raise a finger against him.

So when the apple of Malone’s eye was last seen a week ago dancing in one of Thorne’s speakeasies, I can’t help feel some pity.  He comes to me with a peace offering, yammers on about he knows I’m good with missing persons, and I tell him to stop blowing noise out of his noise hole.  I’ll find her.  If she’s alive, I’ll bring her back.  Now get outta my office.

 

Yours Truly had a bad feeling that Miss Malone was no longer among the living.  Or worse, she was, in Thorne’s hands.  The only lead I had was where she was last seen:  The Lucky Seven.  Time to do some snooping.

Before I go in and start asking questions, I take a look around the outside.  Place like that usually has a lot of exits, if you know where to look.  But after casing the outside from every angle I can think of it looks like the place is condemned.  The Lucky Seven?  Closed down?  Nothing in the news about a raid by the Feds, and none of the locals would have tipped them off for fear of Thorne.  So much for asking questions.  Guess I’ll sneak in and see what I can find.  Gotta admit, I’m not optimistic.

Sun goes down as I finish prying nailed boards off a window and kick a few shards of jagged glass out of the pane.  Squeezing through the opening I feel chips of paint flaking off and rusty nails scratching my coat.  Can’t remember the last time I had a tetanus shot.  Dark inside, and I didn’t bring a flashlight.  Good thing I’ve had such a hard time quitting smoking.  I take out my lighter and whisper a prayer of thanks to the genius who invented portable fire.

The orange flame in my hand softly washes the shadows back.  Smells of rotten food and stale booze fill the air.  Dance floor is dirty.  Stage is a mess.  Tables are….not exactly set.  More like never cleared.  The Lucky Seven wasn’t a high class restaurant, but you could order food with your drinks.  Looks like whatever people ordered a week ago is still there.  Did all the busboys and cleaning staff vanish along with Miss Malone?

“I know you.  You’re Drake Diamond.”

I spin to face the raspy speaker, my free hand going for my thirty-eight.  Next thing I know I’m flat on my back, my weapon has skidded across the floor under one of the tables, and my lighter’s gone in the opposite direction and is sputtering out.  Face feels like I got punched so hard I can’t think of a clever metaphor to describe it.  Something about a truck?  Nah.  Too cliche.  One thing’s for sure.  This guy’s fast.

I hear gunshots, and wonder just who has come to my rescue.  One of Malone’s boys, sent to watch over me while I look for his dear daughter?  The agony in my chest brings me to my senses.  No one’s rescuing me.  I ain’t that lucky.  Truck-fist also has a forty-four magnum and really good aim.

Well, shit.

 

“Drake Diamond.  Get up.”  Whoever she is, her voice reminds me of the smoothest bourbon I ever drank.

I sit bolt upright, feeling odd tingles all over.  I’m on a cold slab of granite, surrounded by lit candles.  Across the room is the classiest looking dame I’ve ever laid eyes on.  She’s studying me like she’s not sure I’m all right.  In one hand she’s holding what one might call a letter opener if one didn’t know what a dagger was.  Clearly made for messier work than slicing paper.  But she’s not holding it in a threatening way.  At least not yet.  In her other hand is…well…I’m no forensic anatomist but I’d swear that was a human femur.  I see…letters? Designs?  Symbols of some kind.  They’re not so much painted onto the surface of the bone as charred into it.

Oh.  That’s how it is.

I look down.  Poking my fingers through the bullet-holes in my shirt, I can feel the fatal wounds in my chest.

Yep.  I’m dead.

At least, I was.  Until this expensively-dressed lady cast her spell.  Now I’m…still not alive, exactly.  But at least I’m up and around.

“Drake Diamond.  Speak to me.”

I fumble around in the pockets of my muddy trench coat and pull out a cigarette.

“Don’t suppose you got a light?  I, err, lost mine.”

She frowns, puts the dagger away and snaps her fingers.  My cigarette lights.  I smile and take a few puffs.  Damn, she’s got style.

“Much obliged, Ma’am.  Drake Diamond, at your service.  But you seem to know that already.  What can I do for you?”

“I need your help, Mr. Diamond.  I don’t trust anyone else.”

“You can raise the dead and conjure fire from your fingertips, and you need my help?  You realize all I accomplished on my last job was getting filled with bullets?”

“Don’t underestimate yourself.  You were the only one brave enough to face Thorne.  And now you don’t have to worry about a petty little thing like dying.”

Thorne.  So this is still about him.  I ain’t normally a vengeful guy.  But one of his lunks killed me.  I’m not too proud to admit, I’d like a chance to even the score.

“All right.  I’m listening.  What exactly is it you need me for?”

“Finish what you started three years ago, before you were murdered: rescuing me from Thorne.  And avenging my father’s death, as well.  Betty Malone.  Charmed.”

Three years?  I’d swear I was only out a few minutes.  Boss Malone was dead?  I’d celebrate, but it would be poor taste in front of his daughter.  That, and it probably meant Thorne had taken his territory, and he’s worse.  Not to mention, I was dead too.  So I wasn’t really in any position to gloat.

I took a few puffs of my cigarette and hopped off the altar onto my feet.  My body felt normal, balance was good.  I would never have guessed three years.  Then I caught a glimpse of myself.

Amidst the lit candles all over the room, there was a free-standing full-length mirror.  A eyeless skull with a fedora on top and a lit cigarette between its teeth stares back at me.  His shirt hangs loose on a fleshless frame, and I can see bare ribs through the bullet-holes.

I look down at myself.  I see flesh on my arms.  A bit pale, but there.  Not like the bony sticks my reflection has for arms.  I pat my chest and I feel flesh there.  Still not used to the holes in my chest, but there’s at least a chest to have holes in.  But what I see when I look down at myself isn’t what I see in the mirror.

“Don’t worry too much about it, Drake,” says Betty.  “It’s magic.”

“Magic.  Right.  That’s what I really look like.  This,” I say, touching my chest, “is what you restored.  With your spell.  It’s what I look like to other people.”

“Indeed,” she says as she strides over to me, heels clacking on the floor at the end of her long legs, “but you’ll never be able to fool the mirror.”  She stops just behind me, looking over my shoulder.  I turn to follow her gaze, and see my clothed, smoking, fedora’d skeleton in the mirror.  Alone.  Even though Miss Betty Malone is standing right behind me.

I turn back to face her, slowly.  She allows herself just enough of a grin to let a little fang show.

“Thorne’s doing.  He made me what he is.  And that means I can’t act against him directly.  If I’m ever going to be free, he needs to be destroyed.  That’s where you come in.”

Time to Try

So, I wrote that query.

Three times.

And scrapped all of them.  I’ve started again, and I am hoping that practice makes perfect. Or at least pretty good.

I’ve never been good at sales, and I couldn’t give away food to a starving man.  So trying to write a sales pitch that feels authentic is hard.

I ordered the deluxe version of the 2016 Writer’s Guide because in 2016, I want to be able to filter, sort and index publishers and agents. I want to be able to save them down to Excel to track who I am querying and Outlook so it can notify me when the 6-8 weeks has passed for a response. And, of course, the financial outlay helps motivate me to at least try.

I tell myself that even if I get 50 rejections, I am really no worse off than I am now. Not really.

Now, back to writing that query!