Friday, November 28, 2008

More on the Synopsis

The synopsis is going better. But I discovered something. I went through Agent Query and sorted about thirty agents into those who want synopses and those who just want the query. The ones who just want the query vastly outnumber those who want the synopsis. So some of the pressure is off. Of course, I'll have to have a synopsis ready for partial requests, but at least I can send a bunch of queries out this weekend.

Ugh; why do we put ourselves through this?

Monday, November 24, 2008

In a Synopsis Mire

Any advice for writing a synopsis for a book that has a very twisty plot? It's all I can do to make this thing sound coherent. Which, of course, makes me wonder if my novel is coherent.

If you know of any tricks, I'm listening. Right now, I'm going to try to give myself one paragraph for each day of the action. That's seven days.

If you love something, let it go . . .

. . . and so, Starcaster is now launched in queryland, as my friend Kimber An would say. May her journeys there be short and successful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Final Draft Finally Final

I finally got through my final draft. I've written my hook and tweaked it endlessly. Now I'm working on my synopsis. With any luck, I'll be sending my first queries on Sunday. It's later than I wanted, but repeated sinus infections really affected my motivation. I'm on some really whiz-bang antibiotics right now. Tomorrow I get to go for a sinus and lung X-Ray. Lovely. When I had a stomach X-Ray, I had to drink a foul concoction in order for the stomach wall to show up. I shudder to think if I have to breathe anything before the lung X-Ray. Probably not, I know, but it's amazing how much one's imagination can run away with one.

I wrote three chapters of my Christian novel and it fizzled. But I'm not panicking. I have never started a book bump-free yet. I am certain that the first three chapters are good to go. The ending all set up in my head. It's getting from A to Z that's giving me trouble.

I also find myself thinking about Starcaster Book 2. The plot possibilities are wide open, because the first book resolved everything except the overall political situation. I find myself thinking about Sgt. Crandell, the owner of the inn across the street from Tory. I'm thinking that the book is going to begin when Tory meets a mysterious stranger at that inn, who came looking for her. Sgt. Crandell will probably play a much bigger part than the line or two he got in Starcaster, plus his grandaughter, Lucy, is shaping up to be part of it. Tory's love life is going to encounter some difficulty, especially since it is in limbo as long as she's a spy.

Writing is fun, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Starcaster Hook

I am going to keep my current hook for Starcaster in this post and on my sidebar.

Tory is new spy for the nation of Alden. She's also a lady. Therefore, she's dismayed when her director, Mr. Bradburn, pressures her into using her feminine wiles to seduce state secrets out of unsuspecting fascists. While Tory appreciates the implied compliment, she's also a starcaster--one who can use a sneaky form of nighttime magic--and she thinks he's wasting her talents. When she learns that he's spreading rumors that question her loyalties, she wonders what's really going on.

She doesn't realize that what Bradburn really wants is a patsy, and he's set up the entire conflict in order to make her look untrustworthy. When enemy spies try to steal a prototype that enhances starcasting ability, Tory thwarts them and traces the spies back to Bradburn. Before she can gather evidence against him, he frames her for the theft of the prototype. Now, everyone wants the prototype and Tory's dodging villains like ladies evade louts at a ball. Her pursuers include corrupt policemen, spiteful femmes fatales, and a frightening spy with a penchant for disfiguring the faces of female spies. Not to mention her own fellow operatives.

Clad in an apron filled with lockpicks, revolver and other spy paraphernalia, assisted by a trio of quarreling gentlemen, and thwarted by rogues both foreign and domestic, Tory must figure out what Bradburn is up to before she ends up in the gallows.

I wrote STARCASTER out of a slightly malicious desire to place a character who might have come out of a Jane Austen novel into a harrowing spy setting. When I'm not writing, I run a review blog called Fantasy Debut, where I have showcased and reviewed debut fantasy novels since June of 2007. Currently, Fantasy Debut attracts over 100,000 visits a year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Other Starcasters

Just for fun, I Googled "starcaster" and came up with some matches.

The coolest match was the Fender Starcaster Guitar. Check it out:

 
I don't play the guitar, but I am a musician, so I appreciate the fact that the title of my novel has such a cool synonym. 
StarCaster is also a traffic control system used by radio and television stations. I rather wonder why they came up with "starcaster" to describe a traffic monitoring system. The interface looks a bit dated, as if it were a DOS program. And indeed, they appear to have been around since 1986. Still, they just put out another release over the summer. And -- sigh! -- they own the www.starcaster.com domain.

There is also a whimsical craft shop called Starcaster Crafts. They sell things like dreamcatchers and wands. The website looks really dated, so I wonder if they're still in business.
And then we have the StarCaster Automatic Terminal Information Service. It doesn't look very interesting, which is why I'm not linking it.
The Star Caster Network appears to be just what it sounds like, a company that casts stars. In movies, that is. And television shows, too.
Oh, and let's not neglect the StarCaster Text-to-Speech system. It's not very interesting for our purposes, but I do find it interesting that I found no fewer than three software packages called StarCaster.
And I'm done with this rather silly topic. In a day or two, I hope to post my blurb, which I am now perfecting with the help of the folk over at Absolute Write. No matter what writing community I try, I always end up going back to Absolute Write. They have the best mix of published and unpublished authors, plus a good portion of the users there write science fiction or fantasy, so I don't feel like some sort of interloper at a literary fiction party. If you're not a member, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Maybe Exciting News? Plus This and That

Ooh, I could burst. I might have news. Not as exciting as getting an agent or selling my novel, but almost as exciting! But I have to wait until it's official. Mmmrrrfff! That's the sound of me stifling myself! Argh!

Progress with my novel: over the weekend I reached a page that I had covered with red marks, said "ugh" and went off and read a novel instead. It was a very good novel; I just reviewed it at Fantasy Debut. Hopefully, it helped recharge my own writing energies.

I submitted "Petroleum Sunset" to an online market that wants near-term Earth-based SF. It almost seemed like "Petroleum Sunset" was written for such a market. I had a "duh" moment when I submitted it. It occurred to me that I should PROBABLY mention that the story is written in Deep South dialect so the editor doesn't toss it aside after reading the first sentence. Since the first sentence goes like this:

After the car got stolen, Pa just gave up on 'em altogether.

the fact that it is written in dialect MIGHT be an important detail for the editor to know.

(This post reminds me: I did a bunch of edits to the story in RTF mode before I emailed it. Must remember to save it as a DOC so I don't lose those edits.)

I heard from someone who loved my Word for the Novelist series and wants me to continue. Thanks, Rascal! Therefore, I will finally do part two of my Revisions post, then I have some other stuff planned. It seems that Word 2003, which I use, is still similar enough to Word 2007 so that it is still helpful. Which makes sense. The Document Map still works essentially the same as it did in Word 97, except it is a bit easier to control, thanks to Word Styles.

That's it for now! Now, maybe I can goof off a bit more before I must get back to that marked-up page. . . .

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Progress, and a Question

Today, I finally finished my read-through of Starcaster. I had hoped to begin querying today, but it will take a while to apply all these edits. Then, I'll need to perfect my query letter and write my synopsis. Therefore, I'm forced to move my query begin date to November 15th.

On the bright side, I found lots of stuff. I warned my beta readers that the draft was a bit rough, and boy it was. They found a lot of stuff, and thanks to them, I didn't find a lot of typos or punctuation problems. However, for this read-through, I was specifically looking for the sort of inconsistencies that pop up after multiple drafts. Things like, has Tory been a spy one year, or two? Was her friend's name Amelia Brock, or Amelia Brook? How much time should pass between event A and event B? That sort of thing. I marked in red everything that I need to check. After Forging a Legend, I'm very aware of the types of mistakes that I make. And for some reason, I don't often see them until I print it out.

~*~

I have a question for you. I have five books planned. When you read a series, how do you feel about major characters dying? I had planned for a major character to die in one of my sequels. Now that I've had feedback, I'm starting to second-guess myself. I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, but if I do away with this character's death, it affects the next book I'm planning, even though I didn't plan for him to die in that book. In fact, I'd have to ditch the entire plot. And nothing else I'm thinking of is nearly as good.

Without giving anything away, let me use a very familiar example. In Star Wars, we have Leia, Luke, Han and Lando. (Interesting how my story ended up like this, with three guys and a girl.) The story was told from the point of view of Luke, but what if one of the others had died . . . say, Leia? What if in Happy Days, they killed off The Fonz?

Would such a character death turn you off the series altogether? Keep in mind that the tone of my novel is somewhat light, but it's not comic, so I'm thinking that a character death would not be completely inappropriate.