Friday, January 12, 2007


Every two weeks he is back. Eating the new growth of seaweed. He is patient and waits until it is ready. He is conscientious and dependable. The turtle in my yard. My very own Chelonia mydas (green sea turtle).
If I can be like him, as a writer, then I can accomplish much. Like the tortoise and the hare. Plugging away word by word. Line by line. Page by page.

7:30 and 73 degrees.
Google alert is cool. I put in Patricia Wood & LOTTERY and this is what I found.
Of course now my character's name has changed (that's a whole other story). A caveat to all new writers: everything is negotiable! My UK publisher will get the newly edited copy of my novel soon, but it was certainly a thrill to see this.
There is a northwest swell coming into the harbor. My boat is swinging at the dock. ORION is large so it has to be quite nifty wave action for me to feel it. I have a rail around my table so my coffee does not fall off, which is good.
Those are my subjects today.
I have been giving a few of my blog buddies a hand. WARNING!!! If you ask them - they will tell you I am BRUTAL!!!
You have to know your story.
If, in a two minute elevator ride, you cannot easily tell someone what your book is about --
When I finally (and it IS hard) develop my two or three sentence description I know I (At Last!) have a handle on my book.
I have strategies.
Sometimes I go chapter by chapter listing what happens in ONE sentence (no cheating) and then condense. Sometimes I look deeply at my characters and talk about who is transformed.
You have to find the angle to your story. A fresh and unique approach.
Sometimes I set that novel aside and start another project and then go back.
Other times I think hard just before I go to bed and I will wake up at 2 in the morning with an AHA!
It is a struggle.
There is no magic formula.
It does not get easier.
In a sense it does.
When you finally admit to yourself it is much harder than you ever thought it could be, and accept the mental wrestling as a given --
and only then can you move forward.
Stop saying, "I can't shorten it!"
Stop whining, "I need 5 pages for the synopsis so you know everything that happens!"
Stop complaining, "Why is this so hard?"
Be like Nike.
Just do it.
And shut up about it.
You can ask me.
And I will tell you.
The Zen. The Haiku.
Of the mysterious query.
That elusive synopsis.


Anonymous said...

That is a cute sea turtle!!
Nike - Greek goddess of victory!
We have to write our own blurbs for Ellora's Cave - it was hard at first, but after the first ten I got the hang of it, lol.

Anonymous said...

What's the sea turtle's name? He or she must have a name!

ORION said...

It's in turtlese and only heard underwater.

Anonymous said...


ORION said...


Holly Kennedy said...

I love this turtle, Pat. Have you tried swimming over to meet him when he drops by? Is he approachable?

M. G. Tarquini said...

Would I'd known this last March when I first queried HINDSIGHT.

Well, now I do, but I learned the hard way.

Kimber An said...

What? 'Dude' doesn't work?

LadyBronco said...

I vote for 'Dude'


ORION said...

kimber you said you had trouble posting on my blog when you switched to new and improved blogger -- I just wanted to see if you could more easily.
Do you guys have to do word verification?

Kimber An said...

Yep, I have to do word verification, but it's going through.

Sharon said...

I saud it once and I;ll say it again - I love the so9unds of Lottery. It's the kind of book I'd buy even without knowing the author. And I can't wait to read it.
Hey, I want a signed copy!

Sharon Maas

Sharon said...

Ops! And I do apopogize for the typos in that last post. Has Crack of Death spoiled me forever? - the Second Worst Novel in the World

ORION said...

Sure, I'll get to it right after I tighten my lines.
Aleutian Island earthquake.
Tsunami watch.
Supposedly only a half meter.
Could arrive sometime around midnight.
Not enough to take our boat out of the harbor and go offshore, but maybe enough to rock and roll tonight.

Disillusioned But Hopeful said...

Orion, I see you took down the link to your email. I was going to ask Miss Snark this but I lost my nerve.

Can you tell me what a pre-empt is? I've had a burning need to know ever since I subscribed to Publisher's Lunch.

I think I tried to email you once before, at the old link, but I don't think it was ever delivered, and now I don't remember why I did to begin with. (Sigh) It's heck getting old. :)

canwag said...

One more thing and I'll leave you alone: I changed my blog address again to (I've been second-guessing myself again.) Eileen

Kimber An said...

After you're done answering Dissallusioned But Hopeful's question, could you define for me, once and for all, what a 'Mid-List Author' is and why it's good or bad to be one?

We got the tsunami warning here in Alaska too.

Zany Mom said...

You know, I could write a hook AND a synopsis for my new work in progress, right now, today, and have it be coherent. It helps when the ideas come to you in that form. Of course, ask me again in a year when the novel has veered off course into uncharted territory as my characters go off and do what they want, not what I want, LOL.

My first novel came to me as three key scenes, and the characters speaking to me. Then I had to play connect-the-dots.

My second novel is again a personal growth story for 3 key characters, and very, very hard to write any kind of synopsis for, as there is no real defineable plot. Love the ideas, but don't know really where it will fit into the publishing world (if it ever gets finished).

ORION said...

Sorry! I upgraded blogger and it took out my email and now I have to figure out what else it took out!
Question one:
pre empt and auction definitions.
Usually when more than one publisher is interested or they THINK more than one publisher is interested there is rumblings about a book going to auction. If an editor really really wants it and does not want to take the chance that they will not be a high bidder or ? they feel out the agent and author for a "pre empt" -the amount of money the agent and author would be happy with. There are times this ends up more than an auction - sometimes not - Unlike a normal auction (and this is not something I understood) everybody puts their bids in at the same time and the author chooses with the agent' help -- sometimes there can be another round if there are similar bids-- the agent basically says, "is this the best you can do?"
Again the pre empt eliminates this - it indicates (when posted in a deal) the the publisher really really really wanted it...and the agent and author did not want to take a chance of losing the offer and took the bird in the hand.

ORION said...

A mid list author is one who usually earns out their advance & does not have what we call any "break out books" (on the New York Times Best Seller List). They often cannot support themselves just by their writing and work at other professions. Often they are a genre author (romance, SF, Fantasy). It is not bad or good. It just is. It's like being a pro golfer but not Tiger Woods -- you earn some money at tournaments but not enough to support yourself, but everybody thinks you do cuz ALL golfers are rich, yeah?
Many, many writers are not even mid-list.
It is spoken of disparagingly at times but if readers enjoy your books and you enjoy writing them then that should be enough.
I know I will get comments about this from people who truly expect to earn a living and will throw my recent deal in my face. BUT.
To give you an idea how unusual my deal was:
There were approximately 164 significant deals over the last 6 years. Now yes, some (very few) weren't reported -- but there are thousands of deals a year!
And more to the point. My second book needs to do better than my first and so on. even 6 figures is not enough to live on forever.
Don't get me wrong. I am working my tail off to make sure my career gets off to a good start and grows. There are things that are in my control. But the rest? It's a crap shoot.
I just pray LOTTERY does well.

ORION said...

First thing right now start the hook and synopsis for your new work and keep working and tweaking on that as you are writing. That is what I was able to do with LOTTERY. It is the sign of a great premise.

Bernita said...

You weren't brutal at all.

Patry Francis said...

Patricia! Lottery sounds fabulous. So happy you found me! Please keep in touch--