Writing Wednesday: Diary of a Submission

Previously on By Her Shelf…

…“How Pleasure and Pain Became Friends.” I started it as a teenager… Over the years, their backgrounds and relationship has changed but the idea has always been there. I even entered a version of it in So You Think You Can Write. My CPs have read a large chunk of it, and one in particular always asks me when I’m going to finish it, but I haven’t… If I can get out of my own head, I might be able to have a finished story worth submitting. -Erica D. Hearns

I wrote this last month about my white whale story, an inspirational romance at the same time Harlequin was running the Romance Includes You submission blitz to find diverse stories from underrepresented groups. Sunday night at 11:59PM EST. The first chapter and synopsis of the above story was submitted at 9:53PM. This is the story. *insert Law and Order chimes*

Two weeks ago, I told my critique partner and fellow By Her Shelf blogger Christina I was thinking of submitting Pleasure’s Paine to this blitz. She urged me to do it, even offering to beta read and critique my entry that weekend. I didn’t get to it. She told me she was ready to do it anytime I needed her to. Flash forward to Sunday morning. After staying in bed the day before with a headache, I woke up pain free and energized. I decided to take the plunge and submit. I printed off the first chapter to edit on paper, saved my document, and treated myself to a decaf caramel latté. I knew many of the things I wanted to address, and editing flew by. When I returned to my computer, I realized I’d somehow erased the first chapter from the document. *cue panic attack*

But after the panic came…freedom. All of a sudden, I was back in the driver’s seat. I didn’t have to try and rework what was on the page because nothing was on the page. I didn’t even have to stick with the changes I’d made earlier that morning. Staring at the a blank page that shouldn’t have been blank broke the chains that tied me to what I’d already written.

In less than 12 hours, I rewrote the first chapter and created the entire synopsis from scratch. I sent pages to Christina in between writing sessions, received her feedback, and made adjustments. Then I uploaded my document, crafted a cover letter on the spot, and hit submit for the first time in three years.

I believe I was able to turn this submission around so quickly because I’ve lived with these characters for well over a decade, know their voices/POVs, and wasn’t afraid to kill any darlings that didn’t fit the story I was crafting. The reality of the deadline kept me plowing forward and forced me to figure out fixes on the fly. All of that is true. But the one thing I would point to above all those factors is the fact I was tired of letting golden opportunities pass me by without making any effort to grab them.

This year, I’ve committed myself to the concept of sowing. My only goal has been to say yes, take the opportunity, make the attempt, and see what happened. This blog is one of the seeds I sowed. I enjoy seeing that people are reading, liking, and commenting, but my commitment is to showing up and sharing my views on books and all things pertaining to the reading life.

Even though  I’ve made significant progress on my goal, I’ve allowed myself to watch potentially life-changing opportunities pass me by. These opportunities would have cost me nothing but the time, effort and courage to try. Sowing those seeds could have led to a new career, meeting new people, and getting to see more of the world I live in. I didn’t want this to be another thing I wished I had the courage to reach for.

All I’m guaranteed is feedback by October 1st. Whether the feedback is good or bad, whether they request more of the manuscript or not, the feeling of accomplishment that came over me when I took the time to acknowledge I’d done the thing I set out to do is reward enough for me to keep working on this story. I hope this seed will grow into something, but I’ve done my part for now. I’ll continue doing it.

Good luck to everyone with a story on submission?

What leaps have you made to move closer to your dreams/goals? Which leap are you preparing to make? Any book recommendations on taking leaps?

If you’re thinking of taking a creative leap, you might want to check out the kindle version of bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins’ #1 bestseller, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. It’s on sale right now for $1.99! I just snagged my copy. Click the affiliate link in the photo to snag yours.

Writing Wednesday: The Dreaded Outline

Hello, Fellow Readers! Erica here. Today is Writing Wednesday, and I have a special post for you from my friend and fellow blogger, Alex. Alex and I took classes together at the University of Central Florida none-of-your-business years ago and bonded over our shared love of the cheesiest, yet still completely awesome  movies and TV shows. However, it was our mutual love of all things books and reading that cemented our friendship. Alex runs at Catfairybooks, a website where “a quirky cat lady” reads and reviews “mostly young adult lit” and catalogs her obsession with teen soaps. If this sounds like your jam, give her site a follow. Alex will be a regular contributor to By Her Shelf, and I for one am so excited to have her as one of the talented trio of girl boss bloggers behind this site. 

Today, Alex is sharing about her experience going from a pantser to a plotter. 

My last post was about the writing challenge Camp NaNoWriMo and since I joined the challenge extremely late, I have a whole load of writing ahead of me! Last weekend I went on a short excursion on a couples trip and now my word challenge is going to be more challenging than ever before! Currently, I have about 3431 words and I still need about 6561 words left if I am going to meet my 10,000-word goal…



Currently what is holding me back from meeting my daily writing challenge is outlining. Back in my early 20’s, I was more of a pantser than a planner when it comes to writing. Since I am now adultish I have changed to outlining because I am someone that could frequently overlook the details in my writing. Outlining is a surefire method to get my facts straight and properly plan what is coming up next in my story.

I was introduced to the prospect of outlining in a fiction workshop that I took a few summers ago and I found out that there were so many different types of outlining. At the time, I found the prospect of outlining extremely overwhelming because of all the options available to me. The options that were introduced to me were INSANE! There was the snowflake method, index card method, and there are technological outline tools like Scrivener which you have to pay for. (This poor teacher needs to save her pennies for the summer!) In the beginning, I began to outline in a very simple manner by just writing in the setting, characters, and problem/solution.

When I read the writing memoir The Thorn Necklace by my favorite author in the entire universe Francesca Lia Block, outlining became a less daunting task. I wrote a review of The Thorn Necklace here. FLB is my ultimate hero when it comes to writing and her level of writing success is what I want to achieve for my life. I may be just a bit biased about my love of FLB and how highly I place her opinions about the writing process but I feel that her outlining encompasses everything that you want to include in a novel. The book is based on 12 questions to help you figure out your goals and it adds depth/dimension to the story. The questions focus on character, setting, style, protagonists, antagonists, and the theme. There are so many writing exercises to chose from and amazing examples from classic novels! This writing memoir has been an outlining savior for me!

Since I am not planning any future vacations for the month of July, I know that if I focus and pull a few all-nighters that I could meet and conquer this goal!

Now I want to know what is your writing process?! Are you a pantser or a planner?! Let me know in the comments below! (If you’re a pantser I am very jelly of you!)

Erica again. I’m going to check back with Alex today and see if she made her July goal. Did you participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this past month? What were your results? Are you a pantser, plotter, or plotser?