Tell the Dust Bunnies to Stop Squeaking



As I’m working through the edits of my novel, I swear it feels like pulling teeth.  While the hard work of creating the story is complete, the polishing and refining of the story, the language and the flow is still to be done.  This is painstaking because, for me, I think and re-think the silliest things — comma placement.  Italicize?  Or, not to italicize.  That should never be the question but it so very much a consideration.

As I’ve been reading other writer blogs and reading memoirs of writers/authors, I am not alone.  My fellow scribes all have this issue with perfecting the words they have written.  How do you whittle down and yet still have razor sharp verbiage that feels true to life (while being totally fictional) and maintain iambic pentameter (if you dare!)?


bookediting chklst

So, my #MondayMotivation advice?  Jump in with both feet and do what’s best for your WIP.  If you need to massage and pamper it with your time and love — do it.  Map out the timeline of your project and do a little bit each day — in spite of it feeling like pulling teeth.  With a suggested schedule, you will only pull teeth a few minutes (or an hour) a day.  Before you know it, a little pain each day will amount to a completely polished WIP that you can be proud of!

Now, you only have to deal with your kitchen, the dust bunnies under the bed, the curio, the laundry, the mudroom…

Ta-ta for now,

The NoteBook Blogairy

Flatbush Bottle: A Real-Life Story Starter

Flatbush Bottle_3 18 2014

In the last few months, I’ve been using a new train route.  The people are new.  The stops are different.  The smells are different.  (If you’re a New Yorker, you know what I mean!)  However, there’s an unusual fixture at one particular train station.

In between the tracks, there are iron girders that divide the two tracks.  It is a ‘natural’ leeway so that when the tracks are being worked on MTA track employees can perch safely out of harm’s way without having to get up on the platform (a tiring exercise!) every time a train comes into the station (which is frequently!).

At about the mid-point of the station, on the girder is a bottle filled with what looks to be water.  It’s a bit too far away for me to read the label but it appears it once originally held Lipton Iced Tea.  There is now a visible layer of black soot on the neck of the bottle.

I first noticed this bottled about a month ago.  I figured it would be removed by ‘someone’ at some point fairly soon.

A month, or so, later it’s still sitting in its high perch untouched by the hundreds of subway cars that rumble through that station day and night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The vibrations are not even moving this bottle.  How is this bottle managing to stay put so supremely and flick its proverbial nose at the mere mortals who look upon its smooth, albeit dirty, countenance.

I wondered and have wondered about the following:

  • How did the bottle get up there in the first place?
  • How is it managing to stay on the girder even with the rumbling vibrations from the trains passing by?
  • What was the purpose of putting the bottle there?
  • What’s really inside of the bottle?
  • Is this some kind of grand experiment and there’s a camera somewhere at that station watching and waiting to see if someone will try to move the bottle?

Then my brain begins going down a writerly road…

  • What if the bottle is portal key and whoever touches it will be instantly transported to another dimension in a train station far, far away…
  • What if the bottle was placed there through the window of a subway car when it was off-loading and waiting in the station for the signal to leave.  What if the owner was bored to tears and left a message in the bottle for another bored restless NYC MTA commuter?  If so, what does the message say?
  • What if the bottle contains the spirit of a genie who can grant only 1 wish and that wish must be conducted — in some way shape or form — within a station of the NYC MTA subway system?
  • What if it’s just a stinkin’ bottle that was tossed out of a train window and by sheer luck it landed right-side up on the girder?  The shock of the million-to-one shot made the bum change his priorities and change his life around.  And what if that bum believes that as long as that bottle stands there his life will continue to improve?

See how a simple unusually placed object in a not-so-ordinary position can fire the brain?

How do you think the bottle got there?  What’s its story?  How about we all collectively write a story about it?  And when the story’s done, I’ll post it on this blog.  What do you say??

If you want to help write this story start it off in the comment section!  C’mon — somebody give me the first sentence. 🙂

Whose Rights Reign Supreme?

Twitter is an amazing place.  Yes, it can be frustrating.  Yes, it can be inane.  But yes, too, Twitter can be a rewarding social arena where you can meet new friends that you may not have met IRL (in real life – :-0).

But there are some words of caution for those who venture into the Twitter waters.  You must review your feeds on a regular basis.  Not just the tweets you send out and retweet (RT) but you must check your timeline (home feed) and see what is there.  Sometimes, you will be surprised at what you see.

I’ll give you an example.  I’m a writer and I love to support other writers.  I generally check the last day or two of a person’s feed before following back, or adding to one of my lists.  And most of the time, things are fine and I follow with no reservations.  In the last few days, I decided to be more vigilant as I have more followers and I wanted to make sure all was in line with what I’m about (writing, the writing life, writer support, writing sprints, etc.).

As I was scrolling through my timeline, I noticed a pic RT’d by one of my loyal followers and it was a picture of male genitalia.  I scrolled past it and about 5 tweets later my brain caught up and I scrolled back.  Yup.  I saw what I saw.  In total shock, I checked on who I was following and checked their timeline — again.

For the most part, the tweets are GREAT!  Interesting articles.  Cute animal pics.  Fun quotes and tweets from other writers in support of their books/works.  But, every 50-60 posts there are pics that are way too racy for me and what I’d like to have in my home feed.  However, to find these tweets, I had to dig deeper into that feed’s timeline.  I should have known from the profile verbiage but my thinking was that there would be tasteful pics (I did not see a warning about the explicit nature of some tweets).

Well, I’ve learned a valuable lesson.  I appreciate everyone’s right to self-expression but when their First Amendment freedom infringes upon mine I have to do something about it.  I’m still following them in support of their artistic expression but I am not RT’ing their tweets.  That’s the decision I’ve settled upon.

How do you deal with followers/tweeps whose content leaves you feeling a bit peaked?

The Writing Life: It’s a Process, Not a Problem

Writing has been my pastime for over two decades.  I say pastime as it has not been a major source of income for me.  However, it has been a wonderful outlet for my creativity.  I have written everything from press releases, business profiles to short stories and novels.  In all of this time, I have not focused on polishing/editing a longer work.  I find myself now at that juncture.  What a big job!

My first completed novel “Opening Up” was edited professionally, and I created the book cover.  I was elated when the book went live through Smashwords and Amazon.  Then, a few days later, the first of several reviews went up.  And yup, you guessed it — the reviews were not flattering.  They liked the writing but HATED the POV character.  Three of the four reviews spoke of the POV character being bipolar; if she was going to be a diva (read: bitch) she should do so full out and not be nice in one area and crazy ridiculous in another area.  The next observation (read: complaint) was that another character that fully shows up approximately 1/2 way into the book was the really interesting character.  The four reviewers unanimously stated they wanted to see more of this character right up front.

So, while my first foray into the novel form was not wholly successful, the reviews were extremely helpful!  I pulled the book down and took a closer look at the entire work in light of the reviews.  In conjunction with insight from my writing mentors, it was shown that the reviewers were right.  This book is women’s fiction.

That whole book needed to be re-written from the POV of this character that showed up in deep the original book.  What ultimately came out of this process was a totally new book.  “Opening Up” has to be re-written; some of the same characters will be in the new book but it has a totally different focus.  The new book also will have a new name.  So, good idea but implementation needed work.  This newly edited version of “Opening Up” was no longer women’s fiction; it was going to be African-American/spiritual/women’s fiction  So, I put this book aside and went on to a new book realizing that the newly revised book would need lots of research.

Now, this new-new book was a totally different genre something that I thought would be “easier” — a supernatural cop thriller; et’s call it SCT. (I’m a masochist, aren’t I??).  This SCT book went along swimmingly because I wrote the outline first full outline that spanned 6 pages hitting all of the plot points.  Therefore, when I wrote it, the writing came fairly easily as I knew where the book was going at each major point.

The book’s first draft was completed in 3 1/2 months.  The editing took a bit longer and it was not fully completed until May 2013 (it was started in late October 2012.  Since May, I’ve submitted it to a number of agents and publishers, the consensus?  This book has a great story but the writing needs to be ‘elevated’.  This stumped me to no end.

I’ve been writing for a LONG time.  I’ve been told I write well yet my fiction writing needs to ‘go to the next level’?  Throw this in with 3 kids, a fairly demanding full-time job, and trying to have quality time with my spouse?  Yeah, this book also got pushed to the side.  After the depression lifted a bit, I decided to take another gander at the reviews/feedback on SCT.  Again, not bad reviews.  But work was needed.

Therefore, I focused on trying to figure out what the issue is/was.  I’ve since enrolled in a writing course that will help me find the strengths and weaknesses of my writing and provide valuable feedback from editors of a well-regarded literary journal.  Secondly, I am writing daily and working on one short story a month and editing each of them — you know, to get that editing/polishing muscle out of its atrophied state.

And you know what?  One of my short stories has been accepted for publication in an online magazine!  (Don’t you love a nice ending to a sad story??)

While this is a step in the right direction, I am still looking forward to the writing course to help me truly discern what I need to work on and improve in my writing.  Hence my Twitter moniker — Writing is a process; not a problem!

As you read this my fellow writers, what has been your journey in the writing process?  Do you/did you find that you needed assistance to bring forth the true shine of your writing projects?  Did you achieve success (or any measure of success) when you implemented certain changes/solutions?

Please share!!  I’d love to hear how you have navigated this gnarly writing path.

All the best,

The NoteBook Blogairy

9 Tips Where & How to Query to Literary Agents

This is a great post about Literary Agents and how to navigate trying to obtain one.

Savvy Writers & e-Books online


A typical literary agency receives close to 5,000 unsolicited query letters/book proposals per year – or approx. 150 per working day. On average these agents accept only 10-12 new clients – only one out of every 500 submissions… Do you want to learn how to write a query, and how to approach the agent?
Do you want to get to know more about the person before hand – after all, she or he will be your partner for a long time?  My best advice: Read their blogs to get informed about the process and find out more about how they work and what they are like before you approach them. And have a “business plan” for your book ready: Who will be your readers, who is your competition and how will you market your book. You will be asked for this! Here are some examples…

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