How to Salvage a Manuscript

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Catherine Castle. Today, Catherine is sharing tips on how to salvage a manuscript and her novel, The Nun and the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

salvagemanuscriptDuring a recent forage through an old Writer’s Encyclopedia for blog ideas, I came across an entry entitled “How to Salvage a Manuscript.” Great topic for a writer’s tip blog, I thought. Here’s what the book recommended, and I quote.

“A manuscript that has been returned to an author wrinkled or crumpled may be salvaged from the time and expense of retyping by ironing the pages.”

Not exactly what I had in mind when I thought about salvaging a manuscript. My mind was running more along the lines of fixing the story, not limp pages. I did get a good laugh, though, because eons ago, when you sent in paper submissions, I had some work come back looking worse for the wear. Funny thing is, I would have never thought about ironing the pages.

The article goes on to state that you should not use a steam iron on the pages, and you should iron the back side of the paper to keep the ink from smearing. Apparently, ironing will also take out paper clips crinkles. Who knew?

Upon further reflection, I recalled seeing an episode from Downton Abbey where one of the housemaids ironed Lord Grantham’s London Times so the pages would be crisp for the master of the house. Heaven forbid that they should give the lord of the manor limp newsprint! I thought the action odd, but my husband seemed to feel ironing the paper made perfect sense. Must be a male thing.

Anyway, I digress from the original theme of this post—salvaging a manuscript, sans the iron. When you think there’s no hope left for the story you’re working on consider trying the following.

1. Set your manuscript aside for a few weeks. Then pick it back up and read it start to finish. This uninterrupted read will help show you where you have holes, repetitiveness, and weak places.

2.Take a hard look at your characters. Are they well-rounded and three-dimensional or are the flat, stock characters? If it’s the latter, rewrite them.

3. Check to make sure your plot is strong, not clichéd, and will carry the story throughout the book.

4. Do you have a sagging middle? Writers often know the beginning, the black moment, and the ending of their stories. The middle, where we’re tempted to just say “stuff happens”, can often be a gray area, especially for pantsers. Make sure your story stays strong in the middle so readers don’t lose interest.

5. Do a Hero’s Journey outline to be sure you’ve hit all the necessary story points. If you don’t know the Hero’s Journey, you can use another plotting device like the Snowflake Method, or Save the Cat. Failing stories can often be fixed by insuring you’ve included the right plot points.

6. Is the story told from the right POV? Make sure each scene is told from the perspective of the character who has the most at risk. Doing so will give the book necessary tension to carry the reader through to the next chapter.

7. If everything above fails to help, give the book to a beta reader and let them tear it apart. Fresh eyes see things you don’t.

Do you have a favorite way to salvage your manuscripts? I’d love to hear it.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850 (2)Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

catherinecastleAward-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing and gardening all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award.

Where to find Catherine…

Website/Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Group Blogs

Stitches Thru Time | SMP Authors Blog Site

10 Gardening Tips from Catherine Castle

I’m thrilled to welcome award-winning author and award-winning gardener Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine shares her favorite gardening tips.

Here’s Catherine!

I’m a gardener and a writer. In fact, I can actually claim the title of award-winning gardener, thanks to the Shaker Farms Garden Club who awarded my garden the title of 2009 Best Hillside Garden. I also have a gardening blog on my website called A Writer’s Garden—Through the Garden Gates with… where I highlight the gardens of other authors. Today, I’d like to share my favorite, and often used, garden tips. I hope you’ll find them helpful. Please join me sometime at A Writer’s Garden.

catherinegarden

1. When a tall sprig of poison ivy springs ups in the middle of your prized plants, don’t risk catching the itchy stuff by pulling it up. Instead, insert a paper towel tube, wrapped in plastic storage wrap or tape, over the pesky weed and spray weed killer inside the tube onto the poison ivy. When the plant is dead, grasp the weed with the tube, remove the tube and plant, and toss them in the trash.

2. To help prevent the spread of fungus in the garden, experts recommend you dip your pruners into rubbing alcohol after each cut. Carrying a dish of alcohol wouldn’t be easy in my garden. Instead I drop a container of large alcohol wipes in my garden bucket and wipe off the pruner blades after trimming an infected plant.

3. Can’t find large container of alcohol wipes? Make your own by soaking paper towels in rubbing alcohol. Drop a few sections of toweling into a gallon ziplock bag, or an empty disinfecting wipes container, and soak the toweling with rubbing alcohol, and walah! Instant disinfecting wipes for your garden.

4. If full size shovels and rakes are too awkward to use in your raised beds, become a kid again. Purchase sturdy, metal and wooden, child-sized garden tools to use in your raised beds.

5. A gardener can never have too many buckets, but who wants to pay for them? Instead, ask friends to save their cat litter buckets. These plastic containers are perfect for storing dirt, leftover peat, or other garden materials. Best of all, they’re free!

6. Are bad knees making you unsteady in the garden? Use a walking stick, made from the handle of an old broom, to give you extra support and stability in the garden. Saw off the broom bristles and put a rubber cap on the cut end of the handles. You’ll be able to hike over any garden wall, hill, or uneven surface with confidence.

7. If you don’t want to spray weed killer in your veggie beds, use white vinegar instead. Simply, spray vinegar on the weeds. It might take several sprays to kill the weeds, but you won’t poison your vegetable garden. Be careful when spraying because the vinegar will do in your veggies as well as the weeds.

8. To prevent transplant shock when starting your plants from seed, plant the seeds inside potting soil filled eggs shells. The shell will deteriorate in the soil and add nutrients for your seedling.

9. Make organic insecticide by combining two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid or castile soap, a few drops of vegetable oil and a gallon of water. Spray this mixture onto plants in the early morning or late evening, when the sun is off of them. The insects are killed by direct contact with the soap.

10. To make sure your Christmas cactus blooms at the proper time without the hassle of putting a box over it every night, reduce the amount of water you give the plant starting in October. It will bloom in time for a colorful Christmas display.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850 (2)

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Bio

catherinecastleAward-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing and gardening all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award.

Where to find Catherine…

Website/Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Group Blogs

Stitches Thru Time | SMP Authors Blog Site

Shattered First Acts Make Sweeter Second Acts

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Catherine Castle talking about an unexpected second act and her debut novel, The Nun and the Narc.

Here’s Catherine!

catherinecastleWe all go through a series of second acts in our lives. We transition from teenager to adult, from single to married, from wife or husband to parent. Most of us go from job to job. Change can be scary, even if you want it, and shattered first acts can be devastating, if you let them be.

My first act was shattered at 19 when I was turned down for musical theatre at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. The only thing I ever wanted was to sing professionally. With no music theory background, the college took me in on probation based on the quality of my voice. I thought I was on my way when I made that cut. But at the end of the year I was told, “Sorry. You have a beautifully sweet voice, but sweet will never make it as a singer.” That news hit me so hard I didn’t sing in public for over a year, which, for a singer, was like a year without food or water.

At a loss for a career, it never occurred to me to try something I had been doing all my life—writing. I had been so focused on singing that I couldn’t see what was right in front of me. Writing was a creative outlet not a job choice. Instead, I went to business college. After graduation I married my high school sweetheart, who helped soothe my shattered soul, and, after that first year of no singing, I gathered the courage to sing again in public. I had let people who didn’t believe in me shatter my dream, but others appreciated the gift God had given me. In spite of not following a singing career, I knew I had an obligation to use my gift however I could.

Fast forward 21 years later and I’m very happily employed as a domestic engineer, a fancy title in that era for mothers and housewives who didn’t have paying careers. Still writing for myself, I began to wonder if I could make money on my hobby. The local weekly newspapers featured articles by by-lined contributors who I learned were non-staff members submitting articles for publication. In the simplistic, mostly uninformed mind of someone who had never taken a journalism course in her life, I thought, I know how to write. I could do that. So, I began to look for ideas to write about. The opportunity came when our church built a new facility. I gathered up my courage, called the paper, and asked if I could submit an article about the groundbreaking.

The editor said, “Sure, but I can’t pay you or give you a byline.”

No pay and no byline almost stopped me. I was older and wiser, however. I had once let others stop me from pursuing a dream, and I was not about to give this one up. I’d give away as many articles as I needed to in order to get the job as contributor. So, I said, “No problem.”

I studied the paper’s lead writer, modeling my piece after hers, and I was thrilled when they printed it just like I’d written it—not a single correction. Then I promptly tried to think of something else to write about. My efforts netted me nothing until the church had its first service in the new building. Once again, I gathered my courage and asked if I could do another piece. I bargained for a byline, offering this piece free, too, and the editor accepted the terms. Seeing my name at the top of the article hooked me. I wanted to see that again and again.

Shortly afterwards, I invited the editor to a writer’s meeting to talk to members about writing for the newspaper. I wanted to know how to become a stringer, and I was too scared to come right out and ask her to hire me. When she finished her talk, I asked two questions. What kind of topics was she looking for as newspaper articles? (Remember I sucked at coming up with ideas back then.) And how did one become a stringer?

She looked at me and said, “Come into the office tomorrow and we can talk about signing a stringer contract for you.”

I worked part time for the Community Press for 10 years. When I left their employ to focus on fiction writing, the second act of my writing career, I had over 600 articles and hundreds of photos to my credit. I had branched out into other markets writing for children, seniors, learned how to reslant and reuse my interviews and notes, and bargained for rights. Other regional editors from Community Press papers would call me to string for them, and I gladly accepted every job.

It’s funny how things work out. Had I made it into musical theatre, I might not have married my high school sweetheart. I’d have been in New York chasing another dream. I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband, beautiful daughter, or even my best friends. One shattered dream turned into a lifetime of happiness and a different career, albeit much later than I ever dreamed possible.

If you’re looking for your second act in life, here’s a piece of advice: Your dream is closer to you than you probably realize. Had I realized at age 19 the writing path waited for me I might not have taken 21 years to discover journalism and another 23 to become a published author. I could have a lot more books out there had I discovered that second act dream sooner.

I once interviewed a woman who got her GED at age 80. So, don’t let others, taking chances, or being afraid discourage you. Follow your dreams whenever they become known to you. It’s never too late.

I didn’t realize it until I was writing this blog post, but The Nun and the Narc is about second acts, too. Sister Margaret Mary and the hero Jed are faced with their own second acts in a fast-paced action adventure.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850

Blurb from The Nun and the Narc

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Where to find Catherine…

Website | Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Joanne here!

Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey, Catherine. Last month, I read The Nun and the Narc in two sittings. Simply delightful!