Question: BACK OF BEYOND

Brady asked, “How is Back of Beyond looking? I’m just itching to read more of The Legend of Spoon!”

I wish I could say it’s ready today. Best guess, four to six months. I’m making changes to the last few chapters, which I’m working on most mornings. I’m going to have my friend, author, Robin Puelma, read it over again. Then I will make any changes needed before I have two more friends read it over. These edits can take three weeks to three months each. I am super excited for this next book! Hopefully, the final edits will go faster than expected. They often do. Thank you for your patience! I’m working hard to finish BACK OF BEYOND, even while I’m on summer vacation with my family. I have it formatted and the cover complete so when editing is finished, I’ll be able to publish it quickly.

When reading a new series, I hate waiting for the next book to come out. When I first started reading Harry Potter, only the first few books were out. It was torture waiting for the next book! What books have you found yourself waiting impatiently for the next in series?

 

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Top 5 Hooks

Way back in 2008, my friend Megan agreed to read through an early version of VERVE STONES. Her being an avid reader, and an English language arts teacher, made her a perfect first editor. She singlehandedly helped me slog through my rookie writing woes. Her feedback aided my skills in character development, flashbacks, and my all-time nemesis the comma. Her comments allowed me to create a much improved story.

Megan’s revision I struggled with most of all needing a hook. A narrative hook is the opening of a story that “hooks” or grabs the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep reading. (Sorry, can’t hold back my teacher mode.) I remember reading the first page in every book I ever read on Amazon.com. Or wanted to read. My research eventually led me to create, “The man had no face,” as my first line in VERVE STONES.

These are my top five favorite hooks I discovered. Today, I use four of these as examples when I teach narrative writing to my third grade class. May these hooks encourage your own writing as much as they did mine!

Savvy by Ingrid Law

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The fact that I needed to reread the first sentence to fully grasp why her family needed to move inland makes this an unforgettable hook.

 

The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) by Lemony Snicket

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This is an outstanding hook because of its use of reverse psychology.

 

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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This fearful hook is intensified with an ominous picture.

 

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

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After reading the first two pages, I was so hooked I immediately bought a copy of this book.

 

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

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Stating the simple fact of going to the grocery store and with the, “Wait, what?” moment makes this hook perfect.

 

Anyone Else Feel This Way?

No matter how many times I send them to Dustin, Dawn, Taylor, or Robin. No matter if it’s a first or final draft. I always think my latest draft is perfect. This draft is a best seller. I justify my overactive pride with the fact I’ve been writing for a hobby since 2006. My skills have improved immensely. I’ve finally figured out this writing thing. Then a friend returns the draft with more red text than black.

I crash back to earth a few days later. I read their comments first. Try to take in everything without getting upset. Some feedback is in areas I knew needed to be fixed. Most are changes I never noticed. Ones that totally enhance the story. Or edits which keep me from writing like one of my third graders.

What I’m trying to say is thank you to my friends who edit my drafts. Without you, VERVE STONES, NINTH NIGHT, UNDER, and BACK OF BEYOND would never exist!

Venting

Plugging away on BACK OF BEYOND. To be honest, I’m feeling frustrated. It’s been almost three years since I self-published VERVE STONES. I wrote over half of BACK OF BEYOND years before that date. I desperately want to finish. My students, friends, and family keep asking me if I’m finished yet. I can see the end of the draft even if not far, far off.

Self-publishing takes me a very long time. Especially because my AMAZING FRIENDS have to take time out their own busy lives to edit my work. My manuscripts always require a great of improvements. Staring at the incredible cover by Jake doesn’t help either.

I daydream about being an author full time. Writing for hours each day instead of minutes. Having editors to burden with my drafts instead of friends. Being able to finish several other picture books, stories, and series I started and never have time to write. My job, friends, family, and God come before writing. I will keep praying this can be my job instead.

Time to get back to work.

 

Halfway Through BACK OF BEYOND

With a five day break from school, I’ve found myself with some writing time. I’m officially halfway through implementing Robin Puelma’s feedback and edits she gave me for BACK OF BEYOND. I know I mentioned this before, but her comments for me to cut my overly described characters, settings, and fight scenes have vastly improved the flow and pacing of the story.

Even more important is her critique that my first draft needed a dilemma for Spoon. Of course, Robin is completely correct. Spoon achieved a goal. Yet, he lacked a solid dilemma. Well, I’m pleased to say the story is so much better now that Spoon is trying to work through a dilemma. SO MUCH BETTER! Can’t wait to finish the second draft to see how Spoon changes at the end of the story.

Final Edits and New Cover

I recently received the final edits for NINTH NIGHT from my friend Dawn. While I wait to approve the new proof UNDER, and its ebook is being published to Amazon, I’m going through the final edits. I’m also working with Jake at J Caleb Design to make a new cover for NINTH NIGHT. I’d finished 1st drafts of UNDER and NINTH NIGHT many years ago and I’m very excited to get them off my computer and available to the public!