Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Year....New Look!

So it's not quite the new year yet, but I made some changes to the look of the blog. Now I didn't plan this initially; I was monkeying around with the background (which I loved!) and then realized that I no longer had the saved image. Excellent. So now I have a new background, and I've also added an "About Me" section and a "Works in Progress" section, which can be accessed on the left hand side bar. Check them out!

Anyhoo... Today I have been researching the very complex world of the English peerage. Since the last half of The Enemy Within occurs in England, and Alex is a viscount, I thought I should make sure that I was addressing everyone correctly.

I thought I knew the basic rules being that I am an Anglophile, but I actually learned a great deal. For example, an earl is always addressed by his title. In the case of my book, Alex's father is Charles Caulfield, Earl of Winthrop. He would be addressed simply as "Winthrop" by his good friends or children, while in more formal situations he would be addressed " Lord Winthrop" or simply "My lord."

Now when the book opens, Alex is actually a viscount. It's a courtesy title from his father who is not only the Earl of Withrop but also the Viscount of Gresham. Being that Alex is the eldest surviving son, he takes the title of Viscount until his father dies and he can inherit the earldon. As you will learn, Alex is very uneasy about this. He was raised as the younger son of the Earl, so he actually would have been a simple "Mr." although he would have had the courtesy of being announced "The Honorable Mr. Alexander Caulfield." Of course, Alex has to make his own way in the world, and that is when he decides to join the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard). His father is furious of course, since being a policeman would be considered quite degrading to an aristrocratic family. Alex makes a reputation for himself quickly, and is promoted to Inspector. He easy evades his father's criticisms until...his older brother dies. Henry Caulfield was the Viscount Gresham, and drinks himself to death (like all good wastrels). Alex assumes the title as the new heir, but refuses to take up his responsibilities (namely his seat in the House of Lords). Ooowww...bad peer!

As punishment for facing down his father, Alex is "cut off" and his father gets him fired from the Metropolitan Police. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Alex gets to America. Of course, there a little more backstory there, but as the popular saying goes, "Buy the book!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Dreaded Synopsis

I've been working on a synopsis for The Enemy Within lately, and geez...it's hard! It's about as hard as writing a query letter. Although I find that there is slightly less pressure since all of my hopes and aspirations are pinned to the query letter. If a potential agent gets to the synopsis, then I feel like I've passed the first test--I've interested them.

Most recently, I've been working on paring down my three page synopsis to only one page, since that seems to be the standard that most agencies ask for. It's extremely difficult to totally gloss over the various sub plots in my beloved novel...and in some cases, I've had to cut out all references because to leave them in would mean additional words and explanations.

A positive thing is while mercilously cutting sections out of the synopsis, I've decided that some of my sub plots can be mercilously cut from the novel itself. Since I am sitting at 110,000 words over all, cutting out these random "rabbit chasers" means less editing for an editor, and potentially more marketability. So while this process has basically reduced my brain to a pool of a mush, I'm killing two birds with one stone.

So...have you tackled the synopsis? Did you learn anything in the process?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Procrastination Rears its Ugly Head...

So according to my stats, my last post was on October 27th.


Can I claim the melodrama of the holidays?

Well in any case, I have been dabbling with The Enemy Within of late. I did some editing and writing last week. But with the end of the year looming before me, I am reminded that I am in violation of one of my most dearly held principles.

Make resolutions that you can keep.

A quote by Samuel Clemons reminds me that this tenant is very important:

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin to paving Hell with them as usual."

After many years of making (and breaking) my New Years' Resolutions, I decided about two years ago to make ones that I intended to keep. I thought I was doing good until a few seconds ago when I realized that I have not done a very good job of this.

Last year my resolutions were as follows:

1. Lose weight.

STATUS: So far, I've lost 20 lbs. So I can say that I have stuck to this resolution. I've got 10 more lbs to go but I'll take my current progress and be happy.

2. Run a 5k.

STATUS: I totally blew this one... And given the fact that it was a resolution for 2009 as well...maybe I should hang this one up. Or maybe the third year will be the charm?

3. Finish novel and start querying agents.

STATUS: Well the novel is technically finished, and yet it's still a work in progress. I suppose I did take a step back on this resolution in the last few months in that I decided that I really do need to polish my work until it is near blinding in its perfection. You only get one chance to query an agent, and given that I'm in the historic fiction genre, it's not like every agent out there handles it.

This scale back has included a lot of mulling on my part. Going over the plot and picking out the parts that didn't make much sense and then re-writing them. And finally handing over my first 50 pages to someone who could chew it up and spit it out with the knowledge that it will be better in the end even if I have to spend a lot of time fixing it.

So I have made progress, and maybe even changed my mindset to the point that I don't feel too bad about not accomplishing this resolution. Besides, I feel like I've done the best that I could given that I don't have a computer at home.

So in the end... I'd say that I was 1 1/2 for 3 this year. And, of course, there's always next year....

So have you accomplished your writing resolutions for this year? Are you making more for the next?