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Jenny Hale

How I Write

Writing fascinates me because everyone does it differently.  As I watch my students go through the process–even at the elementary level–it amazes me how they come up with their stories.  So, for anyone who’s interested, here’s how I do it:

1.  I do not follow any sort of outline, web, or prewriting.  I usually get an idea for a title first and go from there.
2.  I create characters that may fit with my title.  I start with names because a name can tell a lot about a person.  Then, in my mind (and in my notebook), I create their entire lives–from childhood all the way to adulthood.
3.  From the title, and with the characters in mind, I create some sort of obstacle or drama and place the character(s) there.  How they handle that particular drama plays out as I write.  With that being said, I am an extremely structured person, so while I let the storyline run its course, it is within a tight mental structure of intro, rising action, climax, and ending.  Every little detail that I write is mentally stored away (or jotted down) so as not to be overlooked as I tie everything together at the end.
4.  When the story is finished–and only then–I look it over once.  I write the query paragraph-summary and the synopsis (both a long and short) right after completion, so that I can get it down while the story’s fresh.
5.  After that, I do something else.  Usually I read a novel or work on another story.
6.  Once it has been a while, I read the story again and begin editing and revising.  I know I’m done when I can read it and fix nothing.  Needless to say, I’m never done.
7.  Finally, (even though I’m never finishished) I submit my work to publishers and agents.

Step right up, everybody!

You know how it feels when you’re at the fair, and you’ve just waited in an excruciatingly long line, and you finally walk past the less-than-thrilled attendant, sit down in your Ferris Wheel seat, and strap yourself in, because you can’t bear to wait for the man to do it?  That moment, when you’re ready to go, when you know how amazing it will be to get up there, when you feel that any minute the thing’s going to jerk you up toward the sky. . .  That’s exactly the anticipation that I feel at this moment.

When over a year had passed since my first submission of Flipped for You, I read an article–can’t remember the author, sorry–about small presses.  The author suggested that those who were receiving bites from the larger entities, but not getting anywhere, should try to submit to smaller presses.  Many of the smaller presses would be delighted to publish a work such as this.

So, I researched.  For a long time.  I found a small press that has literally no negative traffic on the web and has a reputation for wonderful communication with its authors.  I submitted.  This morning, at five-something a.m., exactly one month after the editor had requested the full manuscript, I received an e-mail that she had moved my manuscript along to “the reading team” for their feedback.  I’ve passed the query stage–I sent it to the Editor in Chief, who asked me to send in the partial.  From there, I was contacted by this editor, who requested the full.  Now it’s in the hands of the reading team.  All of this has taken place in 3 months.

Let’s rewind to the larger publisher.  I sent the same manuscript to this publisher after a request from my query.  It has been nearly nine months.  I could have conceived and delivered a child into this world, and still no answer.  That isn’t meant to be a negative comment, just an observation regarding two very different publishing houses.

Even if the ride is smaller than the others, I’m all strapped in.  I’ll let you know when I see the sky. . .

It could take up to a month…

That was what the editor at the small publisher told me when she requested the full for Flipped for You.  This publisher is known for being author-friendly, prompt with correspondence, and providing on-time responses.  Tomorrow will be exactly one month.  I am probably the only one counting days, but it affirms my original Snail-Philosophy.  Everyone–even a small press–is overloaded.  My in-box is currently empty.

So, I’ve rolled up my sleeves and hunkered down in the kitchen more than a few times to resume my most recent novel titled I’d Rather Be Somewhere Else.  It is a welcome distraction from the compulsive e-mail checking that I do when given thirty seconds of free time.  With each manuscript I am able to apply the wisdom I’ve gained from the process of querying, corresponding with agents and editors, and revising.  As I write this manuscript, I can’t help but get excited about how it’s coming together.

Word of advice for fellow authors waiting on the process:  When in doubt, write.  And then write some more.  It soothes the wait.  At least for me.  Off to write!

Is the snail asleep?

I think I said earlier that the publishing industry works at a snail’s pace.  I’m holding firm with this belief.  I still have not heard from the publisher with Flipped for You, and it’s been so long that I’ve drafted probably three more versions of the thing, so the one that the editor has is now so old it’s probably unrecognizable.  I have sent the newest version to a smaller press, and the full is currently under review there.  Maybe I’ll get somewhere with this one.

I submitted my second manuscript, The One That Got Away to another midsized publisher.  This one requests exclusive submissions, but I have yet to receive a confirmation e-mail that they have received the query, so I’m left to sit and ponder the manuscript’s flight into cyberspace…

It is clear by these results that everyone in the industry is completely overloaded.  I will say that patience is key in this business, and that I’m glad I didn’t start this in my seventies as I may never see the rewards of my labors!

I’m currently working–although I shouldn’t use the present participle as my writing has been at a complete standstill for the last two months due to moving–on I’d Rather Be Somewhere Else.  No plans for submission as of yet.  As alterations to the new house are dwindling and the holidays loom, I suspect I’ll be back on the keys in no time, clicking away.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.  In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving to all!