Another Giveaway – Wishing for Summer

Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews is sponsoring the Dreaming of Summer Blog Hop, now through December 2.

The blog hop is hosted by Me, My Shelf and I and I am a reader not a writer. There are ten giveaways (including Live from the Road, kindle version.) Drop by Laurie’s blog and discover some new writers and maybe win a book.

I’ll be back next week with a regular blog. I’m still recovering from a viral virus, but I am on the mend. Hope you’re all well and thriving.

Thanks and Gratitude Today


3rd Annual Gratitude Giveaways Blog Hop

November 15th to 25th
Thanks to all of you who have come on board and followed me in the past few months. I cherish your comments and insight into the writing life. Check out Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews blog for a great opportunity to win some great books during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Editing – Smoothing the Cement

Trails in the Sand

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

This past week, I finished the edits on my third or fourth draft of my new novel Trails in the Sand. I sent it off to my editor, Kathleen Heady, so she can weave her magic on the manuscript. When she returns it, I’ll go through her suggestions and then ready it for publication. I want to thank Jae over at Lit and scribbles blog for suggesting I write this post. Check out her site – she’s always very clever and inspiring.

Most people who are not writers do not realize how little time is actually spent on the “writing” part of this gig. When I tell someone, “I’m writing today,” I could mean several things, but only about twenty percent of the time do I actually mean writing as they envision it.

However, when I’m editing my work, I’m still writing, and I love it. When I do a first draft of a novel, I liken it to pouring cement into a frame. When it’s first poured it does not resemble the finished product – it’s not smooth; it can’t be used; and it probably shouldn’t be seen by anyone.

It’s the next steps that bring it closer to a finished product – the smoothing of the cement, back and forth until it’s uniform, cohesive, and strong. That’s what editing is for me. Now as it goes through its final reviews, it’s curing and setting up. Soon enough I’ll know if it’s ready for public use.

During the process of editing, the book can change tremendously. I’ve changed point of view several times in this novel and now have alternating points of view between chapters. I’ve deepened the characters as I’ve gotten to know them better over the almost two years I’ve been creating this novel. They’ve changed and grown as the plot has also changed and developed. It’s all a process, which starts with the basic foundation of pouring the first load of “cement” upon the paper.

Everyone does it differently, but here’s the process I use for the smoothing of my cement.

  • When I know it’s time to go back over the manuscript for editing, I set aside a block of time to do it. It’s best to go through the book with few breaks. I can do 100-150 pages per day, if there aren’t any distractions (good luck with that!). Trails in 510 pages, so I was able to complete the edits in five days. But remember this is the final draft and the third or fourth time I’ve gone through the process.
  • I set goals for each day. One hundred pages is a worthy goal, but I found as I got into the process, I wanted to do more pages in one day. For me, setting that goal helps me stay on the task.
  • I print out pages, as wasteful as that may seem, but I’m helplessly old-fashioned this way. If you can do it all electronically that’s great (and I’d like to know any tricks for getting over this hard copy obsession I have). I read through the pages and mark them up, adding copy, deleting words, sections, making notes to check on later pages. Then I go to the electronic copy and begin making the changes from the hard copy. This process also means I’m reading the pages twice in one day.
  • I cut and paste throughout the whole writing process, so doing editing in one consecutive time block helps me find places where I might have misplaced or repeated sections. I’m looking for repetition, transitions, and gaps in the story. Also, I’m looking for inconsistencies in spelling and mechanics. I use the Chicago Manual of Style (and when in doubt Associated Press style) most of the time, but what’s most important is sticking to a particular style throughout. Decide how you’re going to handle numbers, abbreviations, and dates and stick with it throughout the manuscript. I had to decide on some spellings for this book. Microsoft Word uses “coalmine” and “oilrig” as one word. I don’t think these words have yet evolved to one word, and when I checked I found they can be used either way. I chose two words for each, and that’s the way (I hope) it is throughout the whole novel.
  • Doing the marathon session meant I was dreaming about my characters – which is good. I discovered I needed to increase the tension for one of the characters so I wrote a whole new scene where her shame is expressed, adding to the motivation for her despicable behavior toward her daughter.

That’s how I do it. And now I’m a little at loose ends because it’s over. But now it’s on to writing my one-sentence blurb and back-cover copy. Once that’s done (and edited), I’ll be ready to contact  cover artist Travis Pennington at ProBook Covers for his rendering of a vision I have in my head.

Do you like editing? How do you do it?

NOTE: I’m cutting back on my blog writing starting this week. I’ve been writing four blogs a week – two for Living Lightly Upon this Earth and two for Writing, Tips, Thoughts, and Whims. While I enjoy writing the blogs and interacting with followers, I need more time for writing novels and nonfiction books. From now on, I will post two times – one for each of my blogs. Thanks for reading my posts. I’m always thrilled when I see someone has left a comment.

Giveaway Hop – Nov. 8-13


I’m busy working on edits today for Trails in the Sand.  My goal is to send it to my editor by the end of the day so I’m not doing a full post today. But here’s a great giveaway opportunity with tons of choices of wonderful books. Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts & Reviews sponsors the hop. Click on the image above to be taken to the entry form. Hope you win a book!

What I Like – Writing Pleasures

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

author accoutrements

Jae over at Lit and scribbles blog gave me the idea for this blog when she began posting about things she likes in her writing life.

So here’s what I like about my writing life.

I like the accoutrements of writing, which means I keep the office supply store near me in business. My husband said to me last year that he never knew what to get me for my birthday. I answered that a gift card to Staples would be just fine. I’m still waiting, but my birthday is next month.

Pens – It doesn’t matter if I’ve gone to pick up scotch tape or copy paper, I always buy pens at the store. I like extra fine tips in black. I like a large grip. I’ve experimented with pens but always come back to my beloved Bics. I carry at least five in my purse; I have a case of pens in my briefcase; the several working spaces in my house contain tall glasses filled with pens. Nothing is more embarrassing than for a writer to be found without a pen (I know), so I’m never without.

a small sampling of my pens

Pencils – No. 2 yellow, please. I love my sharpened pencils with eraser added on top. I carry a box of them in my briefcase. This week I’m on the road, and I only hope I brought enough of them. My electric sharpener sits to the left of me when I’m at my desk. Nothing helps me beat writer’s block more than those slender pieces of wood.

my sharpened pencils

Notebooks/Journals/Legal Pads – I’m obsessed with the places I put my drafts and notes. As I sit in my hotel room writing this post, I see four different notebooks. I have two different small journals in my purse. At home, one shelf on my bookcase is devoted to all of my journals. I have a journal for every major trip I’ve taken. I’m happy I did this because this winter I hope to pull together my journal entries into a travel book. I keep one notebook for blog drafts and ideas. Another notebook is devoted to my writing life stats – blog, twitter, Facebook, book sales, and marketing ideas. Each novel I write receives its own journal. I keep a small journal on my current novel in my purse to jot down ideas. The other small purse journal holds my random thoughts and stolen bits of eavesdropping I exchange in when in public.

I keep a legal pad handy at all times.

legal pad unleashed

Combined with my sharpened pencils, this pad is the place I go to start new chapters or blog entries when I’m feeling blocked or trapped or overwhelmed. There’s something so simple and freeing about the scratch of lead on white lined paper that unleashes creativity in me. I don’t question why; I’m only grateful it works.

So to my dear beloved husband: If you’re reading this I guess you’re all set for my birthday, right?

And to my wonderful colleagues, what do you like about your writing life?


Here’s How I Write

manuscript for next novel

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Shannon A. Thompson, a fellow blogger, gave me the idea for this post. I liked learning about Shannon’s methods and choices during her writing day so I thought some of you might find my process interesting. I’m hoping others of you will write a post and answer these questions as well. I was surprised that even though Shannon and I write in different genres, we follow some similar practices.

Here’s my “How Do I Write?” interview (with myself):

How long do you spend writing each day?

It’s hard to say, and it depends. I work full-time as a writer, but spend a portion of my day marketing and reading blogs and writing comments. The days of writing all day long happen infrequently. My day is usually fragmented.

What time of day do you prefer to write?

I prefer writing first thing in the morning, particularly if I wake with an idea. Often, I’m pulled to the writing. When I’m in the process of revising/editing a piece, I usually get all the chores done first and then sit down for an afternoon with the manuscript. This process doesn’t always work so well because too often, I’m just hitting my stride when I look at the clock, and it’s time to start dinner or go to my dance class.

Do you set yourself a time limit or word limit? No limits?

I make lists at the end of my workday for what I want/need to accomplish the next day. Quite often, I can’t complete everything, but at least I start the day with goals. When I’m writing a novel, I always set a goal of three double-spaced typewritten pages (900-1,000 words). I usually stick to that and sometimes even write more.

Do you write with music on? If so, what music do you like to write to?

I love music, and I adore well-written lyrics. However, when I’m writing I can’t have music on with words. I listen to classical music while I’m writing. I particularly like Mozart. I have two CDs I listen to frequently with a variety of classical compositions.

How often do you check the Internet? Do you fall into Internet black holes? Or do you turn it off completely?

The Internet is probably one of the biggest problems in my writing day. It’s too easy to check. Often it happens when I need to research something and then I’m checking my email or Facebook. When I really need to pound out something, I leave my laptop behind and go to my legal pad and pencil.

Are you a basher or a swooper? Kurt Vonnegut characterized writers into these two camps: “Tellers of stories with ink on paper, not that they matter any more, have been either swoopers or bashers. Swoopers write a story quickly, higgledy-piggledy, crinkum, any which way. Then they go over it again painstakingly, fixing everything that is just plain awful or doesn’t work. Bashers go one sentence at a time, getting it exactly right before they go on to the next one. When they’re done they’re done.”

I am definitely a swooper. I’d never get a story told if I “bashed” it out. I want to get it all down, and then I go back and smooth it out. I consider my first draft the outline of the story. No one ever really sees that version. In reality, the first draft I show to beta readers is probably the second draft of the story.

Do you eat when you’re writing? What snacks/drinks do you go to?

I take breaks for eating. I usually have nuts or crackers, but I leave the writing alone when I’m eating.

What’s your biggest procrastination tool? Or are you a freak who never procrastinates?

I can find all sorts of things to do instead of settling down with the writing. I unloaded the dryer and folded sheets in the middle of doing this interview. The Internet is a great procrastinator. I’ve been known to clean the refrigerator when I have an important scene to write.

How do the people (roommates/partners/children) who live with you fit into or around your writing schedule?

I’m fortunate to be able to keep an 8-5 schedule just like my husband. I get up with him in the morning. We drink a cup of coffee together. He goes off to the shower, and I head up to my office. I usually try to stop my work when he comes home at night. I don’t have any young children, but when I did, I usually rose an hour early in the morning and did my writing then. This month I’ve had three sets of visitors for a couple of days at a time, and I find that’s difficult, but I manage by working longer hours before their visit so all my blogs are scheduled.

Do you find yourself tied to the place you’ve grown accustomed to writing? Or can you just pick up and go?

I pick up and go. Sometimes I have to get out of the house. I find I can write in public at coffeehouses, libraries, and bookstores very well. I shut it all out. Now why I can’t listen to music with lyrics while I’m writing at home, I don’t know. About once a week, I go some place other than my office to write. I also have a couple of spots in my house where I go if I need a change of scenery. I keep a briefcase packed with my writing tools. Usually when I leave the house, I go with my legal pad and about a dozen sharpened pencils. I leave the laptop at home. My purpose in changing scenery is to concentrate and get away from distractions. I like starting my blogs and chapters and scenes in long hand. I might only write a page or two that way, but it gets me started. The rest comes easily.

So that’s how I write. I learned very early in my writing career to follow what works for me and not what works for other writers. However, sometimes by looking at others’ choices, I can find a better way to work.

How do you write? I would love to learn from you.