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Sara Cottingham- Author

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  • Sara Cottingham
  • September 29, 2017 11:54:11 AM
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Author Sara Cottingham's official site featuring a weekly blog and links to previously published content.

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The best-laid plans often have plot holes.

Updates on writing, life, and the adventure of trying to navigate both.

I think the weather has been doing a wonderful job of matching my mood lately. It drizzled all day yesterday, but Boise has now graced us with a really yucky mix of rain/slush that is obviously telling me I should stay inside until spring. I am so ready for spring. My husband loves winter because he’s a complete ski bum the whole season, but I like being able to walk to my car without five different layers of heat retention clothing on.

Nevermind that I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold. That has nothing to do with it.

 

I had hoped to have my manuscript almost ready to send to my editor at the time of writing this, but that is just not the case. It’s nothing super dramatic, but I found a place that I could majorly improve the story while I was taking one last look at Neon Girlfriend.

I realized that I had a decision to make: I could either send it to her essentially unfinished, or I could probably make the more mature and smart decision to withhold the manuscript until it was at a place that I was completely comfortable with when I finally sent it away.

I picked the later, although I tried to find a ton of half-baked solutions that would have allowed me to send it off early. I didn’t want to wait any longer. I still don’t want to wait. I don’t want to delay this process anymore, and I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated because it feels like I’m hitting a new milestone in hiring an editor to look at my work.

It’s no longer something that just a few select readers have looked at. It’s something that a professional will break apart, find the weak points, and ultimately give her opinion on. I felt like I was at the gate of the race, the bit between my teeth because I wasn’t going to let anyone slow me down, only to found out I’d been preparing to run the wrong race.

This set back really drove home that writing is not something that plays well with deadlines. Sure we set them, and we sit down as often as possible trying to make the story match up with that deadline, but writing isn’t mechanical. It sometimes doesn’t do what we want.

The majority of the time I love the surprises that writing brings, but I’m not going to lie when I say that I was pretty bent out of shape with this latest holdup.

I’m able to look at it now with a more level head, and I’m going to make the most of it, but I had to take a step away from Neon Girlfriend for a while when I realized the decision I would have to make.

It felt like I got into a fight with a friend or partner. I couldn’t understand why things weren’t working out the way I wanted. Yes, I try to micromanage everything (something I’m trying to be better about), but I felt betrayed and confused why this wasn’t working the way I’d planned.

I’m happy to say that I’ve been working on the changes without too much lasting bitterness.

My editor doesn’t have time again until the end of spring, so I have plenty of time to make sure everything is running smoothly, and I can only hope that there won’t be any more hiccups when the time finally comes to send Neon Girlfriend on her way to be reviewed.

 

Photo by Valentin Lacoste on Unsplash


So many updates because it has been so long!

I haven’t posted in forever! I’ve had a ton of things happening in my life, so it’s been a bit difficult to try and find the time to sit down and write about what’s happening to me and update you all on the progress of Neon Girlfriend. First thing, my husband was away on a business...

I haven’t posted in forever! I’ve had a ton of things happening in my life, so it’s been a bit difficult to try and find the time to sit down and write about what’s happening to me and update you all on the progress of Neon Girlfriend.

First thing, my husband was away on a business trip for a super extended period of time, so I’ve been trying to spend the majority of my free time with him. We got to go back to Colorado and visit family soon after the new year since we didn’t make it back for Christmas, and that was such a blessing. The weather driving from Boise to Denver was terrible, the highway was closed about halfway there, not to mention we had car troubles even before starting our drive, so that fact that we got there in two days still seems like a little bit of a miracle.

We have a couple other trips planned, one ski trip and one warm weather trip. I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking forward to both, but I desperately need to do some swimming, so the warm weather trip is a little higher up on the excitement meter for me. Either way, it’ll be great to spend some time away from work. I may have to take work with me on our ski trip, but I’m hoping to have things completed beforehand. Either way, I’m going to seriously catch up on all the reading I’ve been meaning to do. I must have six or seven books piled up that I’ve been meaning to get through.

 

Speaking of work! Holy smokes, Neon Girlfriend is done. This is a draft I’m really confident about. It’s sitting right at 70,000 words, which I know is a little short, but I’ll be sending it to a professional editor in March! I keep bouncing between excitement and nervousness like the ball in a racket ball court.

I’m currently going through and adding little details, fixing typos, and generally trying to make it as polished as possible before sending it off so that the comments I get back aren’t things I already know need work.

Still, it’s so exciting! I keep telling people that I have to send it off to an editor and I swear I puff my chest out a little bit. Yes, I still need to find agents who are accepting manuscripts, but I’m still one step closer to publication.

My game plan for that is to find agents that look like a good match and try my hand at that while still considering smaller presses and self-publishing venues. I’ve done so many hours of research on each avenue of publishing that I don’t think I can take any off the list until I’ve given each a shot.

Overall, things have just been going really well for me and mine. I couldn’t be happier with that.

I’m currently cherry-picking my way through Daemon Voices, a series of essays and talks Phillip Pullman has given on writing and craft over the years. Books on the craft, or other authors talking about writing in general, always inspire me. I tend to hold them closest of all!

Any pointers on how to best receive edits for your work without being too emotional? I’m sure I’ll need help on that front!

I hope all is well with you and yours, dear readers!

Until next time!


First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and New Year. Did you know Boise has a potato drop instead of a ball drop on New Year’s Eve? It was fabulous. I can’t say what the potato was made out of that they suspended from the crane in front of the capitol building, but...

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and New Year. Did you know Boise has a potato drop instead of a ball drop on New Year’s Eve?

It was fabulous. I can’t say what the potato was made out of that they suspended from the crane in front of the capitol building, but it was a great night.

I’m planning on working like crazy until March when I have the opportunity to go to a writing conference. I’m hoping to have the novel done to the point where I might be able to scout for an agent, or at least see if people might be interested in looking at it.

I really have no idea what it will be like, and I think I’m going to need to practice a pitch of some sort. I haven’t done the marketing part, and I’m super nervous about convincing people to believe in either me or the novel.

My thought is that I can always write alone, but if I have to try and convince other people that it is good I might run screaming for the hills. I don’t have the confidence to talk about my book with any sort of bravado.

I know I’ll have to act like I have confidence in my work, and I’m hoping that if I can tell myself often enough I might believe it by the time that I have to pitch my book to someone else.

Other than that, there really isn’t anything new in my life. I had a wonderful holiday season, gained a bit of weight, and watched too many episodes of Gilmore Girls.

Wish me luck on the next bout of editing!


A kind word can make the edits all the better.

I’m not going to lie: I’ve had better holidays. Life has been throwing my family a series of curve balls which have made it impossible for me to get home for the holidays. Luckily, I have friends who are in a similar boat and we’re planning on having Christmas together, but this is the first...

I’m not going to lie: I’ve had better holidays. Life has been throwing my family a series of curve balls which have made it impossible for me to get home for the holidays. Luckily, I have friends who are in a similar boat and we’re planning on having Christmas together, but this is the first time I’ll be spending the holiday away from family.

No doubt the past several weeks have been stressful, but I’m finally back to work after a hiatus. I’ve printed off this draft of Neon Girlfriend, and I’m proud to say that it’s about three hundred and fifty pages.

This is the longest thing I’ve ever written, and I feel a little bit of pride every time I lug the whole thing around while I work on editing. The pride in the manuscript is mitigated by the anxiety of editing. Mainly because I worry if I start picking it apart I’ll have to take off my rose-colored glasses and see where it needs work.

So, I’ve been avoiding it a bit, but I got an email from one of my first readers last night that really made my night. She said she loved my main character, and that she thought my writing was really strong.

It was a simple email and one that I really needed.  It gave me the courage to pick up the edits again. This may sound silly, but it put me back in the holiday spirit. It got me out of the funk I’ve been in. It’s surprising how a couple of sentences from a friend can really turn things around.

My friend’s email doesn’t change my holiday plans, and I’m sure I’ll still be a little sad on Christmas day, but the fact that she thought my main character was intriguing enough to read about was just the kick in the pants I needed.

Sappy, but a good word about one thing in your life can really make the difference when you least expect it.

I won’t be posting until after the new year, so I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season however you chose to celebrate!


A happy early Thanksgiving to you all.

This should be out the day before Thanksgiving, but I just wanted to take this post to tell those that read this blog that I really do appreciate you. It may not be the best blog, but it keeps me honest with how my work is going. Work isn’t always pretty, and there are days...

This should be out the day before Thanksgiving, but I just wanted to take this post to tell those that read this blog that I really do appreciate you. It may not be the best blog, but it keeps me honest with how my work is going.

Work isn’t always pretty, and there are days that I feel like it would be easier if I had picked a different career, but I am thankful for what I do because it challenges me.

I am also thankful for the kind words that people leave me when I have a bad day, and the encouragement I get from seeing others succeed in theirs.

There will be people missing from my life this Thanksgiving, some that I will see again and others who I miss every day, but I am beyond thankful for both. The people who I will be celebrating with mean so much to me, and I hope you can spend the holiday with people you care about, and if not, maybe a phone call to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Cheers!


My final(ish) draft should be done this week!

First off, sorry this is a lot later than normal. I got to work late today, and this got pushed further down the list of things to do. But, I do have a reason for it: my (ideally) final draft should be done this week! I’m so excited, and it’s been a rush trying to...

First off, sorry this is a lot later than normal. I got to work late today, and this got pushed further down the list of things to do.

But, I do have a reason for it: my (ideally) final draft should be done this week!

I’m so excited, and it’s been a rush trying to get it done. I’d realized while doing some research on publishing stats that it wasn’t long enough, so I’ve had to add a ton of content beyond what I initially had. I was worried for a time that I wouldn’t have enough ideas to make it to the suggested word count, but I’m pleased to say that my characters gave me some really good material to work with.

I use Scrivener to write, which I love, but I plan on putting it through a more thorough grammar/spelling/content check before I start sending it out to first readers.

That said, I’m not too nervous about sending it out. Yes, I know they’ll find things I missed, and I’ll no doubt have plot holes and details to tweak, but overall I feel like it’s in a really good place.

My next step will be trying to find a good list of questions to give my first readers when I send them the draft. I’ve found a couple different lists, but I find they are not completely comprehensive. I might just combine the lists I’ve found into one master list.

I’ve only gone a little crazy getting this far. My sleep schedule is ruined, and I should really take a vow to not eat popcorn for every meal.

Does it feel like the house is in a particularly profound state of dusty disarray? A little, but the animals are happy and healthy, so I’ll take it as a win overall. And let’s be honest, my house is only ever clean for a few hours before and after people come over.

So, I will take my accomplishment, push through to the end, and probably take a long deserved rest next week!

 


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