Archive for June, 2011

Revising Again

June 30, 2011

I’m not sure how many times that I’ve finished Calyn’s story, but I might be able to work it out with a piece of paper and a pencil. I can say, however, that it’s gone through two major revisions. The first one was something that I thought I’d never do: I started with a blank page and only referred to the original draft when I wanted to check the skeleton of the plot. Believe me, I had always thought such behavior was crazy, but I knew that it was the only way that I could bring my new understanding of story into play.

The second major revision came after my agent and I evaluated the feedback on Calyn’s story from various editors. Many felt that the world was underdeveloped. Even wore, people just weren’t bonding with my character quickly enough. She was too passive. The solution wound up being starting the book about eighteen hours before the original Chapter 1. I knew that I was on the right track when a critique partner who hadn’t an earlier version looked at me and demanded, “Where’s Chapter 2?” The new first fifty pages sent ripples down the manuscript. I also brought in new characters to round out the world. What I thought would be a six-month revision took closer to seventeen months.

What am doing now? Well, my agent asked for a few clarifications on the new opening. But even better–at least for me–was the fact that she pointed out exactly where I could slide them in. So this revision has been much shorter than the others. But once again, I’ve had to follow the ripples of the changes throughout the entire manuscript.

What am I hoping for afer completing these changes? Why the opportunity to revise this manuscript again for an interested editor, of course. Revision doesn’t stop until a work goes to the printers.


When It All Goes Down

June 11, 2011

Once again I can’t help thinking about how this is the weekend in June where the mystery weekend in SUSPECT would take place. Weather did really play a role in the plot.

Weather, seasons and climate do play or at least should play an important role in establishing the setting in novels. In every book that I’ve had published I’ve done a study of what’s blooming. If an author gets it wrong in an area that I’m familiar with, I’ll notice. With SUSPECT, I could rely on the Missouri Botantical Gardens website. And that reminds me that I’m going to have to start checking the weather in various parts of Italy for PORTRAIT during the first and second week of July. The internet makes this incredibly easy. In fact, I’ll be able to go to webcams for certain locations and check for haze and visibility. I’m planning on spoiling my characters, though. It rained the day before the action opens, so they’ll have blue skies and incredible visibility.

This brings to mind another little review popped up for SUSPECT this week in The Crimson Review of Children’s Literature, a blog put out by the graduate students taking a course in young adult materials at the University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies.

“Nitz has created a strong female character, a distinctive setting, and well-laid clues that will have the reader frantically turning the pages to figure out whodunit.”

I’m betting that the reviewer was thinking more about my bed and breakfast, weather and climate would have definitely contributed to my setting.

‘Tis the Season to Read SUSPECT

June 9, 2011

I’ve always enjoyed reading books in the season when they are set.  I’ve done this most often with the work of Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels because that writer, whose real name is actually Barbara Mertz, does such a fabulous job of bringing in the season as well as the physical setting. So I can’t help thinking about what might be going on in Augusta, Missouri with Jen and her fellow characters even though I’m up here in the slightly cooler state of Michigan.  Much like in my mystery novel,  we have storms rumbling through that are bringing cooler air and lower humidity.

By my book’s timeline, this upcoming weekend would probably be the one when Grandma Kay’s mystery weekend would take place. Today would be when Jen and Bri are putting the final touches on the Schoenhaus. And tomorrow bad things begin to happen.  I wonder whether I’d be able to read my own book for its early summer atmosphere.   A lot of novelists can’t go back because all they can see are the things that they would have done differently.