Professional Edit

This is what a manuscript looks like after a professional editor gets through with it.

 Pitts edits visible

I met Jami Carpenter at the Las Vegas Writers Convention and sent her these first few pages of my manuscript. Keep in mind this is after I have gone over the work, over and over again. I don’t know if it means I am a bad writer or if she is a good editor. I have to tell you she is pretty awesome so maybe I am not that bad.

If you are interested in an editor she can be found at I highly recommend her.


Las Vegas Writers Convention Part 1

11:45 AM Thursday.

Vegas baby!

While Las Vegas is an old haunt of mine it is still a glittering gem that never fails to captivate even the most jaded of observers. I am at the convention taking a break for lunch in the Sam’s Town Casino. No true Nevadan gets distracted by flashing lights or buzzers but even I have to admit Sam’s Town has come a long way from the old truckstop/RV park/locals casino out on the fringe it used to be. It has all the waterfalls, animatronics, and flare you’d expect to see in any of the bigger strip casinos and it is no longer out on the edge of the city, thanks to urban sprawl and the expansion of Vegas’ ungainly little sister, Henderson.

I signed in this morning and was pleased to be able to schedule an appointment with every agent I wanted to talk to. Already this is going better than BEA. The people running the convention are super friendly, the rooms accommodating, and the schedule interesting.

I was given a nice bag full of goodies and introduced to several people. I am feeling a bit like an old dog now that I have attended a few conventions. I’m not as nervous as some of the people I’ve met seem, but I remember clearly feeling the way they do.

Well sadly Sam’s Town doesn’t have WiFi yet, (so in that way they still are a bit behind the times) so I’ll have to post this when I get back to Nan’s tonight.

My lunch is here, Stay tuned for more.

10:00 pm

Home after the conference. Loving it met several agents and authors at dinner. I am really enjoying the intimate setting of this convention.



Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Las Vegas Writers Convention Part 1  
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Smashwords and Authonomy

I am always thinking of publishing Midnight in Vegas on various eBook websites like Smashwords or Authonomy. The only reason I haven’t done it is that I worry that it might hurt my chances of being published by conventional publishers. I have read that some publishers like to see an author has published on these sites and is already marketing the book and others don’t like it and will actually refuse to publish a book that already is in eBook format. They don’t want the competition.

So here I am on the fence.

What to do?

Personally I like the idea of publishing on Smashwords. People can download the book on a bunch of formats and read it on Stanza (an App for iPhones, iPods and eventually iPads), Kindles, PC’s or Blackberries. Another benefit is you can set the price for your work on Smashwords. I can actually make money on the book. But I hate the idea of some “real” publisher not buying my book because it is on there.

I still don’t know.

So I thought I would put up a poll. What do you think I should do?

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Comments Off on Smashwords and Authonomy  
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Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7

Chapter 7

They left before dawn. The light of the coming sun winked out the stars above them as they paddled the boat up the river. Kirso sat in the front of the canoe and set a furious pace for their rowing. It didn’t take Bohok long to figure out that Kirso was testing him.

Kirso had always been stronger than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso could haul heavier nets than Bohok. He was a stronger rower than Bohok. He was a better wrestler than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso was the better than Bohok at every skill the Fish-Eaters held high in esteem.

That, Bohok decided, was before he was exiled. He matched Kirso stroke for stroke and the canoe sped up the river. Bohok had fished hard, worked hard, fought hard to live all on his own all summer. He wasn’t weaker than Kirso anymore. He set his mind to his work and let the rhythm of the oars overtake him. He would not be the first one to break the pace, he would not tire first.

The canoe raced up the river. They flushed a bunch of ducks that had been sleeping in a calm stretch of water. The skein flew inches above the water, their wing tips touching the placid waters leaving pairs of rings expanding behind them. They flew just ahead of the boat daring Kirso and Bohok to catch them. Kirso gave a quick look back to Bohok before quickening their pace. They chased the ducks up the river until the flock finally veered off and headed up above the trees that hugged the banks of the river.

Bohok expected Kirso to slow. The ducks were gone but Kirso kept up the same pace. The muscles in Bohok’s arms were alight with pain but he swore to himself that he would not quit. Kirso stole a quick look over his shoulder. Bohok could see the same determination set in his eyes; Kirso wasn’t going to quit either.

The sun was well overhead when Bohok started to panic. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. His body was screaming with pain. Each stroke was sheer agony. He knew that Kirso had to be feeling the same way. Nobody could row this long, this hard, and not be hurting. Bohok’s mind scrambled for a plan. He needed to end this contest and end it quickly.

Bohok stared at Kirso’s back as they paddled up the river; he saw the sweat pouring off it. He heard Kirso’s grunting with each stroke. He is almost done, he told himself, I just need to push him. With that thought Bohok increased his pace. Forcing himself to paddle even faster than before.

Kirso noticed the change immediately. He shot a furious look over his shoulder and matched Bohok’s new pace, then exceeded it.

Struggling to match Kirso, Bohok’s paddle just didn’t move fast enough. It seemed like Kirso was taking two strokes for every one that Bohok managed. Bohok shifted his grip on the paddle trying to get better leverage, he plunged it into the water and then, the water took it from his hands.

Bohok watched in horror as his paddle drifted away from the speeding canoe. Kirso kept paddling for several strokes before he noticed that Bohok had stopped.  He turned to see what had happened and a wicked smile crossed his face when he saw the paddle far down the river.

“I should have expected a Bug-Eater to drop his paddle.” He said with as much contempt as he could muster.

“It slipped.” Bohok said lamely. “Turn around.”

“What and waste half the day chasing a paddle downstream?” Kirso laughed. “In case you haven’t noticed we are about as far up the river as we are going to be able to paddle anyway. A true Fish-Eater knows the river. The currents get far too strong up ahead. We’ll beach here and start the walk.”

Bohok only nodded. He won’t go back because he knew that I almost had him beat and he doesn’t want to give me a second chance, he thought.

Kirso paddled the boat into the bank and they climbed out.  Bohok and Kirso hauled the boat up onto land and a good ways away from the river before flipping it over. Rainstorms and flash floods could wash a boat back into the river if it was right side up and then it would be gone forever. Kirso started piling up some large rocks around the bow and stern of the canoe to be double safe.

Bohok took out some dried salmon from his pack and sat down. The sun was almost at its zenith and he was hungry. He hadn’t had any properly dried fish in a long time, it was wonderful.

“Aren’t you going to help?” Kirso complained. His arms full of heavy rocks.

“Why should I?” Bohok laughed. “It’s not my boat, and a stupid Bug-Eater like me would probably do it all wrong anyway.”

“Probably.” Kirso nodded his agreement and kept placing rocks until the boat was completely surrounded.

Kirso pulled out some fish from his pack and sat across from Bohok. He ate in silence for a while then said, “So when are we going to do it?”

“What?” Bohok asked.

“Fight.” Kirso growled.

Bohok shrugged. “Now?”

“I figure I owe you one.” He made a fist. “Actually I owe you two. The way I see it we are going to end up fighting sooner or later on this trip.”

Bohok shrugged, his body was sore. He didn’t want to fight, but he knew it was inevitable. “You sure you want to fight me without all your friends to help you?”

“You sure you want to fight me in an honorable fight? You won’t get any sneaky punches.” Kirso stood up and assumed a wresting stance. He drew a line in the sand with his toe. “Cross it.”

Bohok stood and stretched his aching back. He twisted his arms in a circle, and tried to shake out the soreness. He walked up to the line and looked Kirso in the eye. “You ready?”

Kirso nodded and balled his hands into fists.

Bohok stepped across the line.

Kirso’s face suddenly went white with fear. He turned and started running away. Bohok laughed at him. “Come back here, coward!”

“Run!” Kirso yelled, not turning around. “Bear!”

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7  
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All Star Week

That is right folks. I have declared this week to be all star week. I will be sending out my next wave of queries to the all stars of literary agents. The famous blogging agents. You know ’em, you love ’em you read their blogs religiously (if you are an aspiring writer anyway). This week I am sending queries to the following big name agents:

Janet Reid the infamous query shark herself

Nathan Bransford

Jonathan Lyons

Kristen Nelson

And I would send one to Rachelle Gardner but she isn’t interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

These wonderful people write fantastic blogs. Every writer should subscribe to them. They have helped me understand the publishing industry and I am excited about sending them queries. I don’t really expect to get much back. These people are the rock stars of the aspiring writer world (Janet Reid’s line at BEA Pitch Slam was at least twenty miles long) and get bombarded with queries and attention. I don’t know if my query is good enough to stand out. I do know that I owe these people a shot at my book, after all the help they have given me.



And the beat goes on.

So, my request for full wasn’t an exclusive request for full so after much debating I am going to continue to send out queries. This was a hard decision for me. I want to honor the agent who first sent me the request but I have to be realistic. This is a say no, ask questions later type industry. Odds are that I will get a rejection on my MS so I have to keep playing the field until I get a solid strike, if I don’t this could be up to twelve weeks of wasted time.

So I plan on sending out my next wave of queries this week. I am shooting for around six queries a month. My hope is that if I get any feedback I can use it and not have to re-query anyone.



Published in: on February 1, 2010 at 4:20 pm  Comments Off on And the beat goes on.  
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Ready to Submit

Here is a run down of my life since Saturday.

Saturday- Recieve request for manuscript. Happy dance. Call family and friends. More happy dancing.

Sunday- Printed manuscript. bought red pencil and a starbucks (which I intend to write off if I get published.) Selected Warren Zevon on the iPhone, hit shuffle then play. Started reading manuscript to make sure it was totally ready for submission. Read until 10:00 pm

Monday- Went to work, came home read until 10:00 pm

Tuesday- Went to work, came home and finished reading. Started converting red pencil marks into digital form. Worked until 9:00 pm…passed out.

Wednesday- Finished correcting manuscript. Wrote new synopsis (Agent wanted a shorter one.) Re-wrote Bio. Reformated everything to agent’s very detailed specificatitions. Composed email to send it. Paused.

I am not sending it until tomorrow morning.

Giving myself a good night’s sleep and fresh eyes to look at the synopsis and bio one more time before I send it off.

Put Warren Zevon on the iPhone, select Keep Me in Your Heart, hit play.

Good Night.


ps New bio is on the about lystra page if you want to read it.

Done reading my MS

Meanwhile I finished re-reading my MS for submission. There is a world of difference between thinking you are ready for submission and knowing you have to submit. Reading my MS, knowing that an agent is going to be reading it shortly put a whole new light on my work.

I enjoyed reading my MS. It has been a long time since I’ve just sat down and read it, so I saw it in a different light than before. I liked it. No, I loved it. I am extremely proud of it. A novel is more work than anyone who hasn’t written one knows. A novelist has a lot to think about while he is writting. He has to have more than just the scene he is writing in his head. He has to work with the pacing and the plot for the entire novel in each sentence he writes. He has to be aware of the larger story, even when writing the smallest parts. Reading my story after so long made me realize that I accomplished that goal. The story works well, the plot unfolds with just the right amounts of twists to keep the reader guessing. That is no mean task. I finished reading my MS last night and had to smile. It was a lot of work, but a job well done.

Now if I can just make somebody in the publishing industry to see that.



Another Rejection

Jennifer Jackson sent me a really nice rejection letter. Much better than the first one, which simply said: Not interested thanks. Jennifer said that she wasn’t sure the book was for her and wished me good luck finding representation. Very nice. 

It helps that I have somebody interested to blunt the blow.

Printing it out and putting it in the file. Definately a keeper.



Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments Off on Another Rejection  
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I received my first rejection letter yesterday. Bummer. The major problem with my current querying method is that I am really, really attached to the agents I am sending my query to. By the time I am done researching them I feel like I know them. I have read their bios, subscribed to and read their blogs and even followed them on Twitter. So it hurts a little bit more than some random stranger rejecting you.

Still, rejection is just a part of writing. A major part. I was almost excited about getting my first rejection letter…almost. I feel like it is a rite of passage that all writers must endure. I decided this morning to use the rejection to inspire me instead of depress me.

With that inspiration supercharging me I decided to tackle the biggest problem with my manuscript. It is too long. 125,000 words is too long for a first novel. I read it all over the place, nearly every blogging agent has posted about word count somewhere or another. All of them say the maximum is 120,000, several even put it down to 100,000. I decided I needed to get my MS down below 120k. That meant cutting 5,000 words (approximately 20 pages) off my story. That is a lot. I have been loath to do this because in order to cut that many words I would have to cut entire scenes. I have already gone through my MS to remove unnecessary adjectives, redundant descriptions, or any other little adjustments I could make. That wasn’t enough to get my word count down.

So this morning I went all Lizzie Borden on my MS. I pulled out my vorpal sword and went snicker snack. Hacking off scenes like a madman, I discovered that it was as bad as I thought it would be. After a few bloody moments I had a new and improved shorter manuscript. I am now at 118k! For those of you who have read my manuscript, don’t despair, I still have the original version (Saved As “Midnight in Vegas-the Director’s Cut”) just in case. I still like my longer version better than the shorter version but I think the shorter version still works and is more attractive to agents and publishers.

My big problem now is to find a reader who hasn’t read the original to tell me if the story still works. Anyone who has read it will automatically fill in the missing scenes and won’t have any questions on why this or that happened.

I need a fresh reader who has no idea what they are missing.

I need a fast reader who can get me some feedback quick so I can modify my query and submit my leaner and meaner MS.

Any volunteers?



Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm  Comments Off on Snicker-Snack  
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