Monday, February 26, 2007

Me, Myself, and I

Hello, Kiddies! Sorry I haven't posted in over a week but I've been busy, you know, writing and stuff. Now, without further ado, I give you this week's post:

I have finished my 1 millionth revision for my urban fantasy novel. Changes were made after an agent (I was referred to her by one of her star clients) requested that I add a prologue. Then I decided to add a mini sub plot as well because my initial polish landed me with 62,500 words, which is waaay to short for a fantasy novel, even though it is urban fantasy. My "final" manuscript is in around 80,613 words. She asked for a full after I made the changes. I told her during our 30-minute phone conversation that I would need a few months to add her changes as well as a few of mine, since she did mention that my manuscript was a bit on the short side (I called her because she wrote on my query to do so if I had any questions. She was not available when I called her, but she got back to me on a Sunday! How cool is that? Yay!)

I mailed the entire manuscript off last Tuesday, along with a copy of my original query letter to her, which contains her comments (front and back), a cover letter reminding her of everything, and my synopsis, which she edited as well. Whew! She received it on Thursday, which I know because I paid for a confirmation receipt. Now I will begin on the next book in the series as well as a short story.

Waiting for an agent's response is a lonely process. Sure, you have your family, friends, and writer friends cheering you on, but at the end of the day, only your name may appear on that rejection; or possibly, you get a call. I hope that she calls me! Wish me luck, Kiddies!!

Friday, February 16, 2007


I love reading about strong, determined women. The following information was gathered from various sites via the Internet, such as,,

Her published work: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. London: Printed for Archibald Bell and Sold in Boston by Cox and Berry, 1773.

Phillis Wheatley was one of the most well-known poets in America during her day. Wheatley was born on the western coast of Africa and kidnapped from the Senegal-Gambia region when she was about seven years old. Not being of suitable age to be sold as a slave in the West Indies or the southern colonies, she was transported to Boston, where she was purchased in 176l by John Wheatley, a prominent tailor, as an attendant to his wife. Phillis learned English quickly and was taught to read and write, and within sixteen months of her arrival in America she was reading passages from the Bible, Greek and Latin classics, astronomy, geography, history, and British literature.

Phillis published her first poem in the Newport, Rhode Island, Mercury on December 21, 1767. Unable to get her poems published in Boston, Phillis and the Wheatleys turned to London for a publisher, with the result that in 1773 thirty-nine of Phillis' poems were published as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. This collection, of which a first edition is shown, is Phillis Wheatley's only book, and the first volume of poetry to be published by an Afro-American. The poems reflect the religious and classical background of her New England education. Over one-third consist of elegies, the remainder being on religious, classical and abstract themes.

Sample-copyright Phillis Wheatley:

"On being brought from Africa to America" by Phillis Wheatley

`Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

"Their colour is a diabolic die.

"Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,

May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.´

Because many white people of the time found it hard to believe that a black woman could be so intelligent as to write poetry, in 1772 Wheatley had to defend her literary ability in court. She was examined by a group of Boston luminaries including John Erving, Reverend Charles Chauncey, John Hancock, Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of Massachusetts, and his Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver. They concluded that she had in fact written the poems ascribed to her and signed an attestation which was published in the preface to her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral published in Aldgate, London in 1773. The book was published in London because publishers in Boston had refused to publish the text. Wheatley and her master's son, Nathanial Wheatley, went to London, where Selina, Countess of Huntingdon and the Earl of Dartmouth helped with the publication. Wheatley is credited with simultaneously founding two literary genres: Black American literature and Black Women literature.

All I can say, is wow! Phillis Wheatley gave me the courage to want to write since I first heard of her in high school. Women, especially women of color, should not be intimidated in the field of writing. Look how this woman paved the way for us all, even for those who are not African American women. Her struggles attest to the struggles of all in this writing game!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Words DO Hurt!!

Some people use language to their advantage, and others, well, they use it AND abuse it. Most writers are adamant about checking spelling and grammar, but folks in every day life generally don't. I don't expect everyone to speak like an English scholar, BUT don't use words if you don't know what they mean and don't use them out of context!

Some people use words to impress other people, which is fine, but again, read the above. We all use slang with our friends and family, but when it's time to go to a job interview, we "code switch". That special time in our lives when we speak like Ms. Prudehome from that episode of the Jefferson's (Y'all know what I'm talkin' 'bout) ;*)

Anyhoo, I had such an incident a couple of years back at a friend's wedding. (Note to friends: don't try to guess which friend's wedding because I have gone to several!) There was an older lady who came to sit in the pew in front of my guests and I that accompanied me to said wedding.

Anyway, the lady proceeded to ask this question: " 'Scuse me.." (I must interrupt here. She did not mispronounce excuse. That was her dialect. I live in South Carolina and that IS a word!! It just is. Now I'll continue...) The lady said, " 'Scuse me, are these seats observed?" I wanted to say, "Yes, they're observed! Aren't you looking at them?" I looked around, hoping someone else would answer her. I was holding onto my laughter harder than a fat plumber holding onto his jeans. She asked the question AGAIN, so I said quite gingerly, "No ma'am, no one is sitting there."

Now, I hope I don't go to hell for the above, but hey, we all do something that would potentially piss someone off. The older lady meant to say, "Are these seats reserved?" God, I hope everyone reading this knows that! :*) Now, she could have just as easily asked, "Are these seats taken?," or "Is someone sitting here?" She wanted to use a larger word but was unable to effectively.

So, my lesson for today is, DON'T USE WORDS IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN!! If you do, you'll be personally responsible for causing Noah Webster, American lexicographer, to have night terrors in his grave!!! Thank you. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Every Writer Needs At Least Two Pairs Of Eyes, Or More If We Can Obtain Them!!

When I began writing several years ago, I never thought of having a group of people read my work before I sent it off into the world, but I soon realized that writers need to have beta readers--those special people who read all of your work and provide invaluable feedback to help improve said work. Even when we think we've "polished" our brainchildren, there could be a need for someone to read that "polished" version.

Case in point: I wrote the first draft of my urban fantasy novel some time ago. Then I re-wrote some things and polished it, but realized that it was a little too short--my approximate word count was 62,500 words. Well, for fantasy, it needed to be at least 80,000, so I decided to go back and add a sub plot. (I'll do another post regarding word count in the near future!)Everything turned out grand.

My main beta reader read this "final" version of my manuscript the other day, and pointed something out to me that I hadn't noticed. I mentioned that one of my character's was deceased in one chapter, but in the very next chapter, he was eating dinner with someone. Needless to say, I could explain this (ahem). I told my beta reader that maybe he was very, VERY, hungry, and that he came back for dinner?? In any case, of course that had to be changed immediately. I was ecstatic that this was pointed out to me before I sent my baby out into the world. Boy, wouldn't that have been embarrassing? No one is above having beta-readers! Even Stephen King has them!

I remember reading a particular incident concerning Mr. King and one of his readers--I think it was a college professor of his. (It could have been in his book, On Writing) Anyway, his college professor/beta reader, laughed at a particular section of his book where Stephen mentioned that the local townspeople gathered every year to shoot the peasants for food. Did you catch that? Stephen meant to say the townspeople shot pheasants, NOT peasants. That one word made the difference between regular eating habits and cannibalism! Beta readers are good to have! Write On!