Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

Turning Down a Contract by Kristina M. Serrano

I bring to you a guest blogger named Kristina M. Serrano, who so graciously decided to take my offer up on what it’s like to have to turn down a contract despite high hopes and expectations. Enjoy!


It’s so, so hard. It really is. But sometimes, it’s necessary. You can envision it: book signings, interviews, sharing a story from your heart and soul with the world. The power is in your hands. All you have to do is sign.
And yet, you don’t.

Almost two weeks ago, I was offered a contract for SLOW ECHOES by a small publisher, but after seeking counsel from several knowledgeable sources in the writing/publishing industry and thinking long and hard, I turned it down.
The days it took me to make my decision were torturous. “Published” and “contract” rang through my thoughts, taunting, seducing. I’d waited years for those words, and they were finally here. I could finally act on that detailed marketing plan I’d whipped up ages ago. I could tell all of my friends and family I was finally an author, a novelist, not just aspiring. I could share my characters with the world. Almost. Almost… A signature away…

And then a polite e-mail of thanks and decline.

Aside from feeling like I’d flushed an accomplished dream down the toilet, the hardest part about walking away from the contract was how sweet the publisher/editor was and how strongly the publisher/editor felt about my book.
So why did I turn it down? Well, one, different publishers prefer different policies in their contracts, and I felt there were too many clauses that didn’t appeal to me to negotiate. Also, while the publisher’s in-person marketing plan was awesome (attending multiple events promoting their books throughout the year), it wasn’t coupled with a strong online presence, which is important to me and the failure or success of sales for any book.

Basically, it just wasn’t the right fit, to me, for SLOW ECHOES. If anything, this experience taught me that the publishing industry is subjective in more ways than one. If agents and editors reject fantastic books because “they’re just not the right fit,” authors should feel comfortable rejecting a contract from an accomplished publisher that is “just not the right fit.”
My faith has gotten me this far, and I’m confident it will carry me even further as I reassess my writing and publishing goals and continue the querying process.

Another important thing this has taught me: DON’T RUSH. I have been rushing since I was eighteen, and I’m twenty-three now, almost twenty-four. A lot of non-writers think books are born overnight and, however innocently, prod you with “you’re STILL not published?” It’s hard, I know (believe me), but take a deep breath, don’t be afraid to make difficult decisions, do what’s best for you as a writer and your precious book(s), and be proud of yourself! Publishing is definitely not a race against the clock. It’s a waiting game of patience and the right timing.

A successful author I know told me to enjoy the writing process before publication, because that’s when things REALLY get hectic. And that’s what I plan to do. Read great books. Have a ball writing. Dream of landing the right agent and/or publisher and attending my first book signing while researching and querying.
But, my, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Patience, dear child. Patience.

Kristina M. Serrano is an aspiring YA fantasy and paranormal romance novelist, singer, homeschool/college graduate, and ex cowgirl who has been thrown five times. To read more about her and her writing, visit her website (http://kristinamserrano.wix.com/author) where you can also find links to her Twitter and Facebook pages.

Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Guest Blog Post: My Writing Process

Today’s guest blogger is Teresa Kelly! You can find her here.

When writers start out with their first words, whether they know it or not, they are starting to develop the routine and habits that they will use the rest of their lives to shape, design, and modify their writing. For me writing started early in life, and while I have definitely found writing processes that do not work I have also found the process that does work for me, which I have broken down into six steps to share with you now.

1. Environment

The first step in my process is environment. Funny as that sounds, if you have been writing any length of time you know how crucial it is to be in an environment that feeds your creative thought process. I have written in almost every environment possible, but many will not allow me to focus on the words that I am trying to put down on paper. Ideally when I need to do some writing I get settled at my desk or in a room with as few distractions as possible. I detest trying to write while people are talking or watching television, so I normally pick a location where I can be alone with my notebooks and thoughts. Once I am settled the next most important environmental factor is music. I cannot write without listening to one of my many playlists! Music has always brought out my creative side and so for that reason it is a must! Once the environment is ideal the writing can commence.

2. Thoughts

Before I get into the meat of my writing I get out a notebook (I keep stacks of these everywhere) and jot down my thoughts on what I am getting ready to write to help keep me focused on characters I am developing and points I am trying to make. I find this helps me stay on course and not forget important details that may become crucial later in the story.  It is important to note that my “Thoughts Notebook” stays with me all the time during the course of the story so that I have it available when I think of something, or while writing so that I can refer back to previous thoughts if needed.

3, Initial Draft

Once my thoughts are down for reflection it is time to start some writing. When I am working on my initial draft I get back to basics and grab a pen and notebook. For each story I write there are two notebooks, one for my thoughts and one for the first draft. I love the feeling of filling up a notebook with words as my story unfolds and my characters develop.

4. First Edit and Read Through

Once my story is complete (at least as completed as it can be before editing) it is time to do my first read through and edit. During this time I use a different colored ink pen to make my changes and corrections when editing passages, and, yes, maybe even remove large sections now and then.

5. Typing and Second Edit

After I have completed my first read through and edit, and have ensured that I have wrapped up all loose ends and brought my characters to a good stopping point, it is time to take my story from the now very battered up and marked up notebook to the computer and start typing. While typing I look once more for errors in need of correcting as well as paragraph and chapter structure. When I am satisfied with the results I close the notebooks for good and hit print on my completed document.

6. Final Read Through

Ahh…almost finished, the moment I have been waiting for, the writing I have worked and slaved over for the last few weeks or months and poured my heart and soul into is now in front of me in a printed pile, ready for me to delve in once more and relive the adventure this time without worry about anything but my story line and plot.

While these steps may not work for everyone and get altered depending on what I am writing, for me it is a good concise method that helps me stay on track and come out the other side with a viable story to read and share with friends and/or family.

I hope that each of you get to develop and fine tune your writing process so that in the years to come you get all the pleasure of getting lost in your work without getting buried under it.

Seeking Guest Bloggers!

Seeking Guest Bloggers!

tumblr_mmvs8zWBO21ru3ss4o1_500I would love some guest bloggers for next week. There will be one guest post a day starting Monday, and the topics are first come, first serve. I will cross out the topics as they are taken by whoever wants the topic first. Here are the topics:

1. Your writing process The Irish Wench

2. Advice you would give to aspiring writers Quincy Allen

3. How you come up with titles for your WIPs Charles Yallowitz

4. What publishing route you think is best for you (traditional, partner publishing, self-publishing, ect…) and why sabooke

5. Why you write isabellaemilymarks

6. What inspires your writing the most erickeys

7. How you deal with self-doubt as a writer Mariah

Those are all the topics! Choose from one, comment, and if you comment first, I’ll cross it out and put your name next to it to show you own the topic. The blog posts will be posted in the order they arrive in my e-mail!

E-mail: thedancingwriter@gmail.com

Please check back to see who has what topic, just in case you have one.

A Weird Writing Quirk That Strangely Works

A Weird Writing Quirk That Strangely Works

I have a vanity charm necklace that I will be using on the cover. Not this one though.
I have a vanity charm necklace that I will be using on the cover. Not this one though.
So I got to chapter twenty-nine out of thirty-five in Stolentime and decided to quit the draft. Just like that. Not quit, as in I’m through with the story forever. But quit, as in I’m ready to start doing some revision outlines.

I did this with When Stars Die. I had about seven chapters left to write in the draft and just decided to stop to get revising. But it worked. I got to revisions and was able to complete the entire thing. I had to concentrate more on the last chapters during a third read through, but, nonetheless, I got the book complete.

I can’t tell you why I do this. I can only guess. I assume I do this because I hate drafting. I get to a certain point where I’m tired of drafting and decide it’s time to get to the revisions, even though I have those final chapters roughly outlined. This seems counterproductive because how am I supposed to work on the ending if I don’t have it? Well, I do a detailed outline of it, and it does take me longer to write, but I’m more fired up about it because I have my mind trained to realize what I’m doing is revising since I love revising–even if it’s technically not.

I want to be fired up when I write, not disengaged and apathetic. So I do whatever I can to fire me up. If I have to quit a draft 7/10ths of the way through to do it, so be it.

But it works for me. I get it done.

Do you have any strange writing quirks, like writing out of order, starting a later scene first, things of that nature?

The Madness of Revisions

The Madness of Revisions

Sister Revised
There are more revision notes on these pages than this.

During work today I decided to do some revising of Sister Evelyn because, hey, it’s work and work is often slow during the weekday mornings. I went through with my fancy sharpie and pretty much jotted down notes in the margins. I looked at my beginning and thought of how I could better write it and also if I needed to start sooner or later. However, my biggest revision for the piece involved wanting to suspend disbelief. You see, Sister Evelyn does something that needs to be able to suspend the reader’s disbelief. I had to build that from the very beginning so her actions were more believable. At the same time, I also had to edit this piece knowing it was only part one–so, basically, I had to treat it as the chapter one of a basic novelette instead of a short story. But since this is an installation piece, I’m going to edit as I go along and write each piece as I go along.

In any case, back to the topic of revisions. Revisions are my favorite part of the writing process. You have your crappy draft, which, assuming you don’t edit as your write, reeks of crappiness galore but still has hidden gems, that potential that gives we writers a reason to revise. Then you take that crappy draft, your favorite pen, and start marking that thing up. If you’re like me, you’ll mark it up, and any majors notes that need to be added, I’ll do in a notebook or on a separate piece of paper. In Sister Evelyn’s case, I needed no extra pieces of paper. Then once all that is done, you’ll get to either re-writing the whole thing, or only re-writing the parts you marked up. I often re-write the whole thing because I don’t merely like to think outside of the box: I like to break that box.

Revisions are where I really fall in love with the story.

Now we all have our own ways of revising. I heartily advise to use an outline simply because it can help you figure out the purpose of each scene, spot potential plot holes, and keep everything in order, including characters and sub-plots and so on and so forth. Revisions need to be a time of really stepping outside of that box you’ve put yourself in when drafting. Don’t merely edit what’s already there. You need to edit what isn’t there. Does your chapter one need to be a chapter two? Does this scene need to start earlier or later? Does this character even have a purpose? Is there a better way to go about telling this story? These are some really crucial questions that need to be asked upon revisions.

I know when I was younger I refused to revise because I would often ask myself, ‘What’s the purpose of drafting if I just have to re-write the whole thing anyway?’ So for a bit I never re-wrote any of my drafts. Then I got to a point where I realized the draft is like a detailed outline. Even if I have to re-write it, I already have a basic structure there. All I’m doing is improving upon it, even if the story ends up being completely different.

When Stars Die’s premise has stayed the same since its inception, but how it got to the ending has changed dramatically over the years. In my current draft, Amelia is enduring some intense trials to be professed as a nun. In previous drafts, she was first a novitiate going about her daily life, then in my last draft, she was actually being professed as a nun. I changed the whole thing because I realized it would be much more exciting for readers to read about Amelia enduring torturous trials and also because it gave her an immediate goal to strive for in the first chapter–to become a nun for her little brother. The first chapter does need to basically answer the question, “What is your MC’s goal?”

So revising is really all about breaking the box. Don’t just seek out what’s there. Seek out what isn’t there.

Oh, also, I want to start vlogging, so give me some vlogging ideas!