Guest blogger Christine Trent landed a two-book deal with Kensington Books. Her debut novel, The Queen’s Dollmaker, a historical with strong romantic elements, is due to be released in January 2010. I interviewed Christine September 3, 2008. Three weeks later, she sold, and on October 31, 2008 she shared her exciting story of receiving The Call.
Christine has learned a great deal as she’s traveled the path to publication, and I’ve invited her to pass on some of her tips to you. Join us as we explore four topics so important to those eager to receive a contract offer:
April 13: How to . . . Complete a Manuscript
April 16: How to . . . Submit a Query Letter
April 20: How to . . . Interpret a Rejection Letter
April 23: How to . . . Get from First Sale to Publication Wisely
Be sure to follow the comment trail, where Christine will stop by to respond to your questions. As usual, there’s a drawing. Find out about my biggest giveaway yet at the end of the post.
And now, here’s Christine . . .
A Writer’s Tool Kit: Part One
How to . . . Complete a Manuscript
by Christine Trent
“I have fought the good fight . . .”
Finishing a manuscript means discipline!
Do you find it a great effort to just sit down and get some plain ol’ writing done each day? Do you struggle with both motivation and competing distractions? Do any or all of the following vie for your attention?
• Volunteer time
• Blogs 🙂
• Maintaining your web site
• Facebook/social networking sites
• Online classes
…the list of distractions goes on and on. And believe me, published authors suffer from distractions just as much as unpublished ones.
What’s a writer to do?
Lots of writers have tips and tricks they’ve employed to keep them on track. Today I’m going to present to you what works for me personally, as opposed to presenting lots of different opinions. I find there are two simple activities that keep me on track.
Activity 1: Find an Accountability Partner
Lots of support groups encourage their members to find an accountability partner: someone who will help them stay on the straight path. In my case, my husband is my accountability partner. At the end of each day he asks a series of questions.
How many words did you get done?
What got in the way?
What can you do tomorrow to get back on track?
I must admit, sometimes I dread those conversations, but just knowing I’m going to have the discussion keeps me motivated.
What qualities should you look for in an accountability partner?
Cares About You – Your partner should be interested in your success. It might be another writer, a friend, your spouse, or maybe even your mother, but that person should be one of your strongest champions.
Tough Love – Your partner should be willing to – kindly! – give you some verbal chastising if you’re outside in the garden watching the bird feeder instead of pounding away at the keyboard during your writing time.
What about online writing challenge groups?
I belong to one of these and really love the encouragement I get from the other writers on it. However, it’s a bit different from an accountability partner. My challenge group is more like a cheerleading squad. We all support one another and egg each other on, but there is no rebuke for not accomplishing goals. Consider having both an accountability partner and a writing challenge group if you needs lots of motivation.
Activity 2: Keep a Spreadsheet to Track Your Progress
When I begin a manuscript, I create a spreadsheet that includes a daily tally of how many words I write and how many words I should have written. For example, I estimate my current manuscript, which I started last December, to be 120,000 words, and I want to finish in June. That means I need to complete 5,000 words per week consistently through June. How am I doing? Well, my accountability partner may need to nudge me a little bit harder!
This spreadsheet serves several purposes:
1. I can track day-to-day how well I’m doing and how many words I need to complete in a given week to catch up to my goal.
2. By breaking the words completed on a daily basis, I can see what my better writing days are. For example, Thursdays are dreadful for me, but I get gobs of writing done on Saturdays and Mondays for some reason.
3. I can easily adjust my goals if necessary with just a couple of keystrokes in the spreadsheet.
4. It’s a visual record of how well I’m doing overall.
The most important thing to remember if you are serious about your writing career is this: whether you’re published or not, writing is a business. Much as we prefer to let the muse overcome us or feel like we can only write once every other distraction in our lives is addressed, the reality is that we need to incorporate discipline into our writing lives. We must train for the race if we expect to go the distance.
What’s your number one method for staying on track with your writing?
Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win
I have a plethora of prizes to give away while Christine’s posts are active. This time I’m keeping the prizes a secret. Yes, each winner will receive a package with a minimum of three mystery items that range from note cards to necklaces or memo pads to magnets.
I’ll choose 11 winners from those who leave a comment for Christine between April 13 and 23, one each day, and will post the winners’ names as they are drawn.
To be entered in the drawing, please include an email address when prompted, which I don’t share. Each comment counts as an entry, and you may enter as many times as you’d like.
Winners: #1 Leslie Carroll, #2 Leigh, #3 Jessica, #4 Eileen Astels, #5 Karen Fraga, #6 Sherrinda, #7 Margay
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and April 30. Make sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On May 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of five covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)
Learn More About Christine
Visit her Web site: www.ChristineTrent.com
Learn More About Her Debut Novel
The Queen’s Dollmaker
Coming January 2010 from Kensington Books
“An exuberant, sparkling debut. Beguiling details of doll making are a joy in this rags-to-riches romp. Brims with Dickensian gusto.”
–Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Lady and The King’s Daughter
A young woman, struggling to expand her London dollmaking trade, finds a surprising customer in Queen Marie Antoinette, an avid doll collector herself. This seemingly innocent exchange puts Claudette’s life in danger when she is lured to Paris under false pretenses. Money and jewels are being smuggled in dolls destined for the Queen, and have now been discovered by the fledgling revolutionary French government. Her only hope for escaping the guillotine is a man she pledged not to love, who has no idea she has even been imprisoned…