Showing posts with label writer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writer. Show all posts

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Inspired by Another, I #AmWriting!

It feels so good to be back at it! I truly love writing. Always have. In past posts, I shared a lot about why I put off getting back to the other book for so long. That's right--I have started a new story! And I love it. Not that I didn't love the other one, but it needs so much revision since I've turned in a new direction. The old story is still a WIP, but on the back burner.

In my last post, I told you about Terri Tiffany.
She has been such an sergeant! I say this jokingly, but in all seriousness, she has provided a much needed push to get me going. I guess I can call her an accountability partner. Best. Thing. Ever.

When I told Terri I had an idea for a new book, she told me when she expected the first chapter. I sent her the first chapter. I love her.

Terri sent me a wonderfully detailed critiqued that will help me mold that chapter into the best it can be. I've already sent her the revision!

I love technology. Today, we have so many great writing tools at our fingertips via the internet--a dictionary, thesaurus, style handbooks, maps, images--but none can take the place of someone that holds you accountable to your writing. Terri tells me that I WILL finish a book this year. I believe her.

Do you have a critique partner or writer's group that keeps you directed toward your goal?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Peeking at the Process with a Debut Author

I've had a delightful experience I want to share with you...
watching the birth of a book up close and personal.

It started here, with my blog.
I follow some blogs just for entertainment.
I follow some blogs that are authors-agents-editors' blogs, 
hoping to glean valuable tips to help me in my own journey.
I follow a lot of writers that are where I am, hammering out that first manuscript.
And I follow some seeking publication with one or more finished books.

Terri Tiffany was in the last group.

 Terri has been published more times than I can count as a contributing author,
with several stories in the Chicken Soup books, as well as other inspirational collections.
She is a seasoned writer, but had to wait patiently for that first novel to be grabbed up.

Through following and commenting on our respective blogs,
Terri and I became friends.
One day she asked me if I would be interested
 in reading a chapter of a book she had written, 
and giving her some feedback. 
I eagerly said yes!

In June of 2012, I read the first chapter of a manuscript she called The Mulligan.

The story is quite unique.
The MC is a young girl who decides to go to golf school
to keep her family from falling apart.
What? You say you just read a book about the same thing?
I didn't think so.

In April of 2013, she sent me some revised sections.

And on it went...

We've exchanged a lot of emails since that first chapter.
She has shared a lot of her frustrations,
as well as highs, in the process of publication.

(I think I drove her a little crazy when it came to knowing the actual publication date.)

She had the patience of Job.
I didn't.
I don't know how many ways I can ask,
" you have that date yet?"

I would have been sending emails.
I would have been calling.
But she waited.
And trusted.
And waited.

I've learned a lot through Terri,
but the thing that stands out right now is
that getting published takes a lot of patience.
And talent.
And work.
And perseverance.

Our teen pastor recently spoke about what decides where you end up...
"Direction--not determination--decides you destination."
Although, I think determination can help quite a bit,
we can want something will all our heart,
but if we don't take steps in the right direction,
we will not reach our desired destination.

Terri is a perfect example of someone who kept facing the right direction.
She never lost sight of her goal.
Despite rejections, she kept trying.

So now, I want to officially say...

February 6, 2015
(I know...I'm a little late.)

I really owe a lot to Terri Tiffany.
She has lit the proverbial fire under me!
She not only encourages me,
but she challenges me.

I recently had the privilege of meeting her!
Yes! Face-to-face!

This photo doesn't do her justice. She is beautiful inside and out.
Hubby and I drove all the way down south to have dinner with her and her husband.
Yes, we drove 1500 miles just for dinner!
(Okay, maybe we were on vacation.)
We ended up spending several hours talking.
It was like we had known each other for years.
I guess we have.

Here comes another good part...
Terri gave me an autographed
copy of The Mulligan!

Of course, I already bought
 the eBook when it released.

But there's something
really special about having
an author hand you
their paperback.

Congratulations, Terri.
Published Author
The Mulligan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Truthful or a Big Fat Liar?

Just when I learned from Stephen King to be truthful in my writing, I get an award for being a bald-faced liar!   Kim Kasch presented me with this one:

Thank you, Kim.  (If you want to know more about the award, check her blog.) 

Being a fiction writer, lying does have it's positive side.  After all, isn't fiction just a book of lies?  So, why does King advise us to be truthful?  I'll explain in a moment.

The advice I'm speaking of is from King's book On Writing, A Memoir of the Craft. Remember the books I got for Christmas?  I promised several of you that I would let you know what I thought of it...  (Sorry it took so long.)

I loved it.  As a memoir, I'd give it a ten, but as a handbook for writers, I'd place it a tad bit lower on the scale.  King shares a lot of personal history in this book, beginning with his beginning.  He wrote about his childhood and his earliest stories.  He talked about his love of writing - why he does it.

I had forgotten about the terrible accident that almost killed him.  In the last pages, he gives his account of what happened, and then he ends the book with a list of his favorite books.

In between the history and the accident, he packs his version of the nuts and bolts of writing.  It is brief, and, to be totally honest, I didn't learn a lot... BUT, it was definitely worth my time!   King states time and again that to be a good writer, one needs to read a lot and write a lot.  He even gives examples of why it's good to read bad books!   The book taught me that I already had enough knowledge about the craft, and now I need to put that knowledge to work.  He also gave my confidence a boost in some areas that I previously questioned...

In a recent post, A Christian Writing in a Secular World, I wrote about a dilemma I faced with the language of my antagonist.  He said a very naughty word!  Against some well-meaning friends' advice, I decided to leave it as written... He said it, not me!  I didn't feel I was being truthful with my readers to tone it down.  He is an evil person.  Vile.  Angry.  He does not say 'Oh, fiddlesticks!'  

According to King, " are breaking the unspoken contract that exists between writer and reader - your promise to express the truth of how people act and talk through the medium of a made-up story."  Like I said, I already knew that.  I just needed someone to tell me I was right.  Someone with authority.  I think Stephen King would be considered an authority on writing.

When I read, even a memoir, I get lost in the story.  I'm submerged up to the gray matter in the words on the page.  If I were reading a novel and, right in the midst of a violent scene, the bad guy hollers out, "Oh, poopy snickers!" I think I'd be violently yanked away from the story!  Have you ever been pulled out of the fantasy and into reality by an untruthful dialog?

King also reinforced my thoughts on scraping a big chunk of my WIP.  I'm writing stuff that nobody cares about.  It isn't essential to the story... it's more like a side trip that ends up taking you way off course.  That may be fine on a sunny day when time is not important; it's not good in the middle of a book.  I was struggling to get the story back on track because I wasn't anywhere near the track!  Sometimes it's just better to turn around and go back.

If you're looking for a technical manual on writing, King's On Writing isn't it.  Still, I highly recommend the book, especially for beginning writers, and/or for fans of Stephen King.  He is honest and open, sharing his personal journey, and the wisdom he has gained in his vast career.  It's an easy, enjoyable read.   I think you will agree that it's worth your time.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Christian Writing in a Secular World

WWJD?  I've been wrestling with this one.  My WIP is not Christian fiction.  There is no story line about how the protagonist got saved and it turned her world around.  As a matter of fact, it doesn't even mention God, church, Jesus...  At one point, the antagonist screams out hatefulness.  It was a hard dialog for me to write.  I still haven't decided on one sentence in particular.  He says a bad word.  Yep.  My mom would have washed our mouths out with soap!

OK, it's not the @ word, but it's still a curse word.  A Christian friend of mine, when told of my dilemma, suggested I use @#%*#!  Not that the thought hadn't crossed my mind; but dialog is words, not symbols.  The character spewing the word is far from reflecting Jesus.  He is evil, cruel, abusive... just plain mean.  He doesn't say things like, "Darn it, you mean girl!"  I left the word in there. 

I consider writing a form of art.  I am an artist.  I use words to paint.  You cannot paint a sunny day without the color blue.  You cannot paint a sunset using only yellow.  My WIP is already written in my head.  My story has a beginning and an end.  The characters are strong.  I cannot weaken them... it would do a disservice to my work.

I have a notebook on my laptop with oodles of ideas for other books.  Most of them have a dark character.  They're not childrens' books.  Don't get me wrong... I would let my teenage granddaughter read my book.  It's about real life, and sometimes real life is ugly.  I would not be ashamed for my Christian friends to see what I've written.  I really don't care what they think, anyway.  I do care what God thinks.

Sometimes I wonder if God would want me to only write Christian fiction.  I credit Him for this talent that I think I have.  (Although, being a writer, I will face another judgment day!)  Does God want us to use the talents He blessed us with for His glory alone.  If my writing does not bring people into His Kingdom or glorify Him in some way, am I not using my gift as He would have me use it?

I just finished reading that last book of a three-part series that is a prelude to the Left Behind series.  This paragraph, in The Rapture by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, really hit home...

"Another honoree was a prodigious pianist who had taken the gift God had given him and devoted himself to ministry rather than exalt himself by pursuing what was guaranteed to be a lucrative career in the great concert halls.  He taught piano in remote arenas of the world and used his giftedness to spread the Word of God, eschewing personal glory and wealth."

So am I exalting myself for my own glory if I write something other than Christian fiction?  Even though I still pray on this question, I think God says no.  After all, if I were a great classical pianist no one would expect me to play only hymns, would they?

I might someday try to write a Christian fiction novel, but I truly don't think I have talent in that area.  If it is God's will, I'm quite sure He'll let me know...

I have many Christian writers that follow my blog.  I also know a lot of you are Christians without writing Christian stories.  What do you think about this issue?  Does God want us to use our gifts solely for His purpose?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Big Leap!

Today was a great day!  I have exciting news to share with you.

I was astonished by my e-mail this afternoon.  No, a better description would be knocked silly!  An item in my in-box informed me that I had been invited to contribute to a writers' blog.  Yeah, me!  Yeah, really!  Would I joke about something like that?

So anyway, the letter goes on to say that I should check out the blog...  I clicked before even finishing the letter!

Very quickly, my excitement was replaced by anxiety and doubt.  Yes, it was a new blog, a new group trying to pick up steam.  Still, these were published authors!  Some of these people have traveled the world!  I felt very inadequate.... but that's the old me.  The new me knows that I can write.  I've had this dream my whole life... but I let my low self-esteem continually steer me away, placing roadblocks in my mind.

My biggest fan, Lille Diane was instrumental in my being selected.  She has read a couple of chapters of my book.  I constantly receive encouragement from her.  She was the one that suggested the creators of the blog consider my writing.  How could I not jump on the opportunity?  So I did.

I am now a contributing writer!  Please check out my debut post on Writers Rising.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hey, Yogi... just call me Booboo!

I've got an owie.  Actually, I've got many owies all over my body.  I had an out-of-body experience tonight.  I don't know for sure where my brain went, but it obviously wasn't here, looking out for me!  I went to a place that I've been to many times and fell over the sidewalk.  I thought I was on the ramp, but I thought wrong!  Now, I have a very tender toe, an aching ankle, a knobby knee...  My hands and wrists hurt so bad, it's hard to type this.  The impact jammed my elbows.  Concrete gets harder as I get older.

There have been times in my life that I had a physically demanding job.  I often wondered how long I could work like that.  What if I became injured?  How could I do my job?  I guess it was a positive thing that I didn't take my health for granted.

I don't take my brain for granted either.  I am thankful for the talent (not proven yet) that God gifted me.  But I have been negligent...  I've taken for granted my ability to move my hands... to type.

I never thought that being a writer was something that I needed to be healthy to do successfully.  I did worry that my arthritis might someday become a hindrance.  So far, the effects of arthritis have been very slow and gradual, with anti-inflammatories keeping it in check.  But I never worried about an accident interfering with my ability to write.  Oh, how I wish not to take my hands for granted.

Hands are incredible tools.  I'm not saying that without them, one could not be a writer; but it would certainly be more difficult.  In writing this post, I am reminded of a blog post I wrote in March.  In fact, it was the last post I wrote on my MySpace blog, before I packed up and moved here.  Perhaps I'll repost it on my essays blog someday.  Here is the last part of the post:

It dawned on me that the hand that applied pressure against the wound of the seventy-seven year-old woman in the floor was now the hand that cradled and comforted the four-year-old with the fever.  I stopped typing just now to gaze at that hand... that hand I take for granted every day.  It's remarkable.  My God is so amazing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Makin' a list...

Glancing at the ID on my ringing cell phone, I saw that it was my step-son.  He was delivering a message from DIL...  she needs a list.  A list?  Hmmm....  How long of a list?

Her Facebook status yesterday said she didn't even think to get her list together yet for Black Friday.  They are expecting their first child in January and have been busy getting the nursery ready, so I guess she's had other things on her mind besides Christmas sale shopping!  (I personally hate shopping, crowds, and limited supplies, so avoid Black Friday like the plague.)  S-S said it was OK to e-mail it later.  (I'm sure he preferred that to having to remember a list.)  I promised I would, and started thinking about what I wanted...

I'm not one to desire much.  I have everything I need and feel quite blessed.  Anything she would care to give me would bring a smile and warm thought, but I don't want to be difficult.  DIL is a planner... a details oriented person.  I can certainly appreciate that.  So I'll make a list to simplify her shopping trip.

When I first hung up the phone, I thought about turtlenecks.  When assessing my winter wardrobe recently, I discovered that I really don't have many long-sleeved comfy shirts.  Surely there are tables full of on-sale-turtlenecks for Christmas.  But then, a better thought popped into my head...  What do I really want?  I already have a list!

I've shared with you a few of the craft books that are recommended by fellow writers to improve our technique.  Every time one sounds good to me, I put it on my want list.
TheThe Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass has been featured recently on Susan Mill's blog, A Walk In My Shoes.  I added it to my list!  Susan also recommends Writing the Breakout Novel, also by Maass.  (and also on my books-I-want-to-read list.)


Another book at the top of my want list is Stephen King's On Writing.  It also comes highly recommended as a must read.

So there!  I've made my list.  Haven't checked it twice, but don't really need to...  it's pretty short.  Now, if only Mr J's list was as easy...

How about you?  Have you received a 'list request' for Christmas?  Are there craft books on your wish list?  Here's the perfect opportunity to add to your writer's library!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Didn't Die

I've just been taking a break.

My focus was off because of things in my life... mostly good things, but they still interfered.  Life does tend to get in the way of writing; but sometimes what I've written gets in the way of writing...

I reached a part that was giving me fits!  I didn't like the flow.  I wasn't happy with the story line... it seemed to lag a bit.  I want the important parts of these chapters to be more compact.  The voice didn't match the rest of my ms.  I was spending way too much time fixing little things, when I really needed to start over with that whole part.

I've been spending less time reading blogs, but still daily follow  Susan's blog, A Walk In My Shoes.  She has become a friend, offering me priceless advice.  ...reluctantly, I might add.  Not reluctant to share and to help, but reluctant to call it advice.  Rather, she modestly says it's just her opinion.  Susan supports my opinion to start over with this section.  She's been in a similar spot, wasting precious time on a part that just wasn't working.

It's so wonderful to have other writers to share with, and to glean from.  If you're a new writer, I encourage you to follow not only the blogs of agents and publishers (though much priceless information is freely given there) but to also follow blogs of other writers...  people that have been where you are, that can offer opinions to steer you around the roadblocks that can sometimes cause a new writer to give up too easily.  And don't just limit it to writers in your own genre.  All writers have common problems and solutions.

Hopefully, when you've found a few blogs to follow that you can relate to and learn from, you will be able to ask questions and get good sound answers.  Just because the current problem you're dealing with is not a current topic in Blogville, doesn't mean you can't ask it in a comment form, or even e-mail it to the blogger.  The people I've met through blogs are eager to help ,and to develop friendships.  Even though there are infinite great books that talk about specific topics concerning the craft, feedback from other writers is priceless.

It's hard for me to think about tossing such a huge section of my WIP; but if it's not working, what good is it?  So any day now, I'm going to go back to the outline process for this section, and add more structured detail to keep me on track.  I know what needs to be in there.  That's all that needs to be in there.  Once I establish my direction, my words should again flow as they did in the beginning.

As I get further along with my book, I do plan to join local writers' groups for the face-to-face support they offer.  But, in the meantime, I'll meet up with the talent right here in Blogville.  And Susan... thank you for everything!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Finished My Book!

Oh, I wish it was that one!  No, I just finished reading The Appeal by John Grisham. 

I needed a break from my WIP.  I had to get my mind off it for a bit.  I didn't like the last chapter I wrote and thought taking a break would help me regain my focus on where I really want it to go.  I want to pick it up again with a fresh mind. 

I'm one of those people that don't typically follow authors, but Grisham is my favorite.  The only other author I can think of, that I actually own more than one book written by them, is Samuel Clemons.  I have three by Clemons that I was given when I was young.  I own a whole shelf of Grisham's work.

As I closed the back cover of this one, I thought about whether or not I am at all influenced by his writing.  My first reaction is, of course not...  My story ideas are nothing like his.  My writing style is far different.  I do admire that he manages to write stacks of best-sellers without filling them full of trash talk.  I'm not big on the foul language found in a lot of books.  I really like that his books aren't all about happy endings.  They're more true to life.  I also like the fact that, even though the majority of his books deal with some angle on the legal profession, he throws in a few unexpected storylines... even a little comedy.

Still I wonder...  Perhaps when I'm done writing this ms, I'll ponder the question again as I evaluate my characters and flow.  If I do find a similarity in style, is it necessarily influence?  Maybe I like his writing because of that common thread, instead of his writing being the cause of it.  If you were to ask me what writer I thought influenced me the most, my answer would be, "I have no idea."   I have been writing essays, songs and poems since I was a child.  It's hard to say what might have influenced my style.

How about you?  Is there a particular author that influences your writing style?  Describe the way your work reflects that influence.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Or should I say kidnapped!  What am I writing?  Labels.  Yep, labels.  Oh, it takes lots of creative genius to come up with a label for an egg carton.

In case you don't follow my farm blog blahwg!, I'm talking about Mr J's chicken hobby.  My other blog documented our journey with his chickens.  In April, we became caretakers of seventy-five day-old chicks!  Now we sell eggs.  (For the record, birds are dirty, nasty animals.  I do not share his love of chickens. However, I am a farmer's wife, for better or for worse...)

Yesterday, I rode with Mr J to the local feed store to pick up 250 generic egg cartons.  So I spent the evening coming up with designs to his liking for the 250 cartons.  Between you and me, I think an agent is easier to please.  But now, here I sit with a stack of approved labels to cut and apply.

Crooked Creek Farm
Free-Range Eggs 

Liz, if you can hear me, I'll be there soon...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Read it to me...

As if I didn't have enough to do...  My BF was telling me just last week that she was going to purchase a voice-to-text program (very affordable) to allow her to dictate her book.  (We're supposed to be co-authors, but she needs a fire lit under...  oh well, that's another subject.)  It sounded like a good idea... for her - not me.  I like writing my ms.  I type almost as fast as I think.  I don't know that I could focus as well by dictation.

I never gave a minutes thought to the flip side of this possibility...  At least, not until I read a blog just now on QueryTracker.  Even though I keep vowing to stop editing and get finished with the writing, I have read portions of my ms aloud as an editing tool.  It is effective to a point.  We do tend to read it the way we meant it, and not necessarily the way it truly reads.  So what if a computer read it to you?

Check out today's post:  Was Blind But Now I See-- Text-to-Voice: An Underappreciated Editing Tool

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Writer's Haven Goes to Hell

I do most of my writing in my bedroom. I designed this house with my in-laws in mind, so we each have our own area at opposite ends of the house. From my room, I cannot hear their TV. I made our bedroom large enough for our sitting area. I have two wing-back recliners with a table between them.

When I look straight ahead from my chair, I can just barely see the neighbor's house, as the leaves are starting to fall. In the summer, I see only trees. When I look to the side, through the doors to my deck, I see pasture and more trees, sometimes goats and horses. It is a very peaceful setting... a true writer's paradise!

Beyond the pasture and woods is a bike path, which borders our property. The grandkids love that feature! Across the bike path, there was a welding shop. It was sold to some guys that cut firewood. Then it stood empty, waiting for the new owners. Well, they've moved in...

It is now home to a dance school. How nice. Apparently, the instructors believe in fresh air. Yes, they do routines outside the building. Ordinarily it wouldn't matter, since it's so far away. Ordinarily one does not associate a loud bass drum with a dance class.

At first I thought there was someone parked on the bike path with those big woofers blaring. The bass sounded like a cadence for a marching band. I thought about putting on my industrial strength earmuffs, but decided it should quit soon. It didn't.

Hubby came in from splitting wood. "How do you like having a dance place next door?" he asked.

"Is that what that is?" I yelled over the ba-da-da-DUM, ba-da-da-DUM.

He smiled. "Every Saturday."

"Oh, well. Dance classes only last for about an hour, don't they?" I guess I'll write later...

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Editing My Blogs

One of the blogs I follow, A Walk In My Shoes by Susan Mills, has been discussing the topic of what we post in our blogs; specifically, things we wouldn't want potential agents to read. Susan would have been celebrating her 100th post today, but instead is celebrating 88. Why? She recently deleted several posts that she felt did not show her in the very best light when agent shopping. They weren't whiny or negative... just things that she felt didn't belong in the showcase.

I've been thinking a lot about this topic myself. I've been a little busy, and I would rather spend time on my WIP than editing my blog; but it will come. I've begun to look at this blog as a type of business blog. My main focus, in the beginning, was to document my journey in becoming a published author. I also wanted to be able to give a leg up to others... share things I learned along the way. Those are still my main concerns for this blog. However, my objective is still to be published. An important part of that goal is obtaining representation. So, like Susan, I've been considering deleting any posts that I feel do not show me in the very best light, looking at it from the viewpoint of an agent.

I've also been thinking a lot about my sister blogs. Most of my regular readers are aware that I have two other blogs. I've always kept my topics divided. When I want to share what's happening on my farm, I post to that blog. Things about writing and pursuing publication belong here. Then there's my miscellaneous blog, for anything that doesn't belong on the other two. I have links to the others in my sidebar that I will probably remove. Still, if an agent were to google, they would find the other blogs. I don't think anything I've posted there would necessarily show me in a negative way, but then...

What about the opinion posts? What if the agent I'm querying strongly disagrees with my feelings on a particular issue in the news? (Agents, after all, are people.) Would their viewpoint color their decision on my query? I don't think any agent would truly pass up on a manuscript they thought would easily sell, just because they disagree with my politics. It is how they make a living. But what if my book was a probably? What if they weren't sure whether or not to represent me? Could what I choose to write about on my other blogs tip the scales?

Of course, my other blogs could be a positive thing, too. Suppose the agent was a big animal lover. Maybe the scales would tip in my direction when she read about my relationship with Maggie. Then again, I don't edit my blogs. I just type what's on my mind and hit the publish post button. What if an agent were to scrutinize my grammar and punctuation on my other blogs? I don't think it would have much effect, really. It's not like I'm submitting these posts for publication elsewhere; but it is something to think about.

Another thing I've been thinking about lately is using a pen name. I have one in mind that is very special to me. (Sounds like another post, doesn't it? You will be the first to know.) If I do decide to use a pen name, should I completely separate my writer's blog from any ties to my actual identity? I'm not hiding. You all know what city I live in, and from pictures I've posted of my farm, it would not take a genius to track me down. Maybe I'll want to change that when (not if) I do become published.

I have a goal for my manuscript today, so I don't really have time to ponder all these things now. I would like to know your thoughts. Do you think my identity as a writer should be separated from my identity as a grandmother and farmer's wife? Do you think there are subjects I should avoid posting on this blog? Are you in a similar situation with your blog? Let me know what you think...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Danger of Agents' Blogs

I have posted several times about the positive side of following agents' blogs. Now, it's time I told the other side of the story...

Remember when you first discovered the internet? If you're like me, you were in utter amazement at the amount of information suddenly at the tips of your fingers. It was overwhelming! Often, when I was researching a particular topic, I would find myself venturing off my planned path to explore whatever popped up. Hours would pass before I noticed.

I'm experiencing that again...

I start my e-day by reading my mail. Then I come to Blogville and check my dashboard for new posts from the blogs I follow. It didn't take long before I was spending more time reading blogs than writing my ms. I could so easily lose track of time.

Recently, I made the decision to just scan the agents' blogs for topics of particular interest. I saved notes on some of them. I was learning a lot of what I felt was very useful information. Problem was, what good is it to me if I never finish my book?

I've got to get back on track. For now, I'm not going to read ANY agents' blogs. That's right... none of them!

One of the things I've learned from following them, is that they do a very good job of titling their posts and referencing topics. When I am ready for the next step, it will be quite easy for me to search their blogs for the information I need.

According to my calendar, it is mid-September already. I should have been done with the initial writing and well underway with the editing!

Do you find yourself putting aside your WIP because of too much time spent elsewhere? If writing is your dream, make it a priority. Don't save it for when everything else is done... for filling those left-over minutes at the end of the day.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Long Wait

Why is that everything I see, hear or smell gets me thinking about my MS? A story on the news makes me ponder a new plot. A song on the radio creates a scene in my head. I was born to write. I really believe that. I wrote songs and poems when I was a kid. I have long made my own greeting cards. I just don't have trouble getting the words from my brain to paper (or laptop). When I found out what blogging was, I was delighted to join in.

Even though I find much enjoyment in these things, my real dream is to be a published author... Not just published, but actually making my living at it. A career. I didn't want to be able to tell people I wrote a book. I want to someday say, "I write books!"

I am not as happy with my progress as I could be; I get side-tracked too often. (I spent my writing time this weekend twiddling with baby shower stuff.) I am determined to make a bigger push toward my goal. After all, I'm not getting any younger!

...but it does take time. I think that instant gratification spoils some things. I see that in the younger generation. They don't wait for things the way we did. The waiting is an important part. It's the part that pushes our dream to the mountain peak. Without the wait, it's just something we want, we get, we move on...

The wait. As with anything else in life, the longer we want it, the greater the reward. Didn't someone famous once say something like, "The harder we have to fight for it, the greater...." We appreciate it more. We savor the accomplishment.

I'm sitting here, reading through my morning e-mails, and I came across this devotional:

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
- Proverbs 13:12

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chicago Manual of Style

Just thought I'd drop a quick note about my experience using the Chicago Manual of Style. I spoke about it before, but had only used the Q&A section. The Q&A is free, but doesn't necessarily contain everything you might need. The manual is in outline form, so looking up particulars is relatively easy. You can access the outline free also, in case you want to learn more about it before subscribing.

No, I don't receive a kickback from them. (Unless they really want to reward me for the mention... I could force myself to accept a gratuity.) I do like to share whatever great things I happen to stumble over in my quest to write this book. I have used the Q&A a couple of times, and thought it was very helpful.

Yesterday I had a brain fart. That's what I call it anyway. I had a punctuation issue come up where memory failed me. I knew I knew the answer, but it was buried deep, and I didn't have time to find a shovel. I clicked on my shortcut button for the manual. I tried the Q&A, but, after a few clicks, I hadn't found the answer I wanted. I quickly decided to bite the bullet and make the HUGE investment of $30/yr for a subscription. Delightfully, they offer a 30 day free trial! Although I will pay the fee when my 30 days are up, I do appreciate an extra month.

I spent less than a minute signing up. They send a confirmation e-mail. I clicked on the link in the e-mail and accessed my awesome manual. From the time I decided to sign up until I had the answer that had sent me there in the first place, took about 3 minutes. For less than a dime a day, I now have access to an indexed reference that is quick, user-friendly, and concise. Unless you are an expert in the area of grammar, I encourage you to check out the online manual.

I love being a writer in this day of technology. I can't imagine myself, years ago, sitting in a stiff chair, facing a typewriter, surrounded by stacks of reference materials, (atlas, dictionary, thesaurus, grammar text...) feeling creative. When the juices are flowing, I want as little interruption as possible. If I have to lift my fingers from the keyboard to the mouse, I can deal with that!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Are We Suckers?

I'm desperate. I'll do anything... well, almost anything to get my book published... to become AN AUTHOR. How far will I go? Will I grasp at anything that promises me success?

It seems that when I read all the agents' and editors' blogs, I get this picture of almost gloom and doom. They leave me feeling, as maybe they should, that my ms must be the absolute best to have even the slightest chance at publication. Getting representation is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

There is all sorts of help offered. You know I love the free stuff! But what about the stuff with the price tag? How much are you willing to invest in this process? Oh, don't look at me with that 'I thought they'd pay me?' face... I'm talking critiques, query help, editing, etc. Are you willing to pay for the expertise you might require to get your book published? How do you know you're getting your money's worth?

Let me put the fear of God into with this:

Florida sues Boca Raton literary agency

This story ran today in the Miami Herald. It's worth a look. Did you think the publishing world was immune to the vultures? No matter where we go in the world, there is always someone waiting to capitalize on our ignorance. I'm not going to say guilty or innocent in this matter, as I've just now heard about it; but I will say 'author beware'.

I can see how easy it would be to get sucked up into a scheme because of our obsession to be authors. There are so many opinions out there, who do you trust? In the last few months, I've read more than a couple of articles on how to select an agent, etc., that is reputable. I'm sure there are vast numbers of sources that will point us in the direction of honest experts in all the above mention areas.

I encourage you all to follow as many good agent blogs as possible. Sign up for free newsletters from publishers lunch (where I first heard of this suit) and any other newsletters you can find. I know... You say you have enough to read. Who doesn't? Scan.

I am not yet involved in any writers' groups. I do plan to be, before I get to the point of hiring experts for help with my book. Take advantage of the wisdom out there and don't fall prey to these varmints!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Using Real Names of Things...

Yes, I'm limiting my time here. Yes, really. It's just that something I've been wondering about showed up on a billboard in Blogville today. I was just running my quick errands, (scanning the agent blogs) when I came across this title: Product Placement in Books posted by Bookends, LLC.

I have mentioned specific products in my MS: his car, her Frappucino (hmm... wonder where THAT came from?) I never question the use of these things. I assumed that since no one was harmed because the car had a severe manufacturer's defect, or because she never accused Starbucks of product tainting, that I didn't have a problem. After reading this post, I'll assume for now that I'm right.

The thing that had me wondering was names of specific places. My WIP is set in several cities; some I'm familiar with, some not. My BF is a source for some places in NY where my character lives in the present time. In her visit to her hometown area, she reflects comparatively on her neighborhood hangout vs. the restaurant/bar where she is dining with her sister. My BF once asked if I was allowed to use those names. I replied, of course! Why not? Hmm.... Maybe I should have really thought about the question.

It's still a question. The linked post did not address this specific issue. I did, however, leave a comment with my question. Hopefully the author of the post or another commenter will address this issue for me.

FYI... for any newbies out there that just happened to stumble along here: When you leave a comment, (in most cases) there is a box to check to have follow-up comments sent to you via e-mail. I do this when I want to see what others think about a particular topic, or post a question that I hope to see answered.

If you're a literary attorney, or just happen to know the legality of all this, please post a comment for others to read and learn from.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just dropped by...

I know what I said... I am spending less time here. I still want to scan the topics of the agents blogs to keep an eye out for things of particular interest to me. I save them for future reference. Remember my lesson on MS One Note? Well, scroll back... I don't have time to link.

Anyway, I recently posted on the topic of self-publishing, and, to be balanced, (especially since I have no personal experience) I wanted to share this link with you, to allow for the other side of the story...

Eric, at Pimp My Novel, posted this article today: Self-publishing: Great Idea... or Worst Idea Ever? In this post he talks about statistics, and the reasons, pro and con, for self-publishing.

If you are serious about writing, I do encourage you, as I have in the past, to follow many of these agents' and editors' blogs. They are an ocean of advice, free for the taking! Check my sidebar for some of the ones I follow, plus there are more listed on my profile page.

The series on self-publishing by Morgan Mandel is very helpful to anyone choosing that route. I tried posting her links in that post; but, for some unknown e-reason, blogger wasn't cooperating that day, and I had to delete them. If you would like to read more from her, here (hopefully) are her links:

Morgan Mandel

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Self-Publishing... Is it right for you?

Let me start out by stating that if I choose to go the route of a standard publisher, I will certainly do so only with agent representation. Even though I've only been following the blogs for a short period of time, I have learned that it's well worth it to have an agent do the hard work. Yes, writing and editing seem to be the easy parts. It's work, but it's on your time at your pace. Once you're ready to submit, it's a whole other ball game!

However, I still have not ruled out self-publishing. When I've finished my manuscript and received professional critiques that tell me I'm the next Dan Brown, I will seek an agent. What if I'm not? What if it's just a good book. I've done very little research into self-publishing. I checked some sites back when I first started my WIP. I had never read an agent's or editor's blog. I didn't even know about blogspot then; but now I do. I spend so much time reading and learning, writing notes, copying links, that I've not gone back to researching the self-pub route... until now.

Morgan Mandel at The Blood-Red Pencil just posted her seventh post of a seven-part series on self-publishing. If you have even the tiniest inkling that self-publishing might be for you, I encourage you to read the seven-part series. Morgan laid out clearly every step of her process, from the legal aspect to selling the books. She also included links to the sources she used in her journey. She shared details of how she used Word to format her ms for the print size, plus disclosed the other software she used.

You will note in her comments that she does respond to questions. I left a comment inquiring about her cost, which she promptly answered and openly revealed. I urge you to visit her sites; and hey! How about buying her book? I read the excerpt and I'm going to get my copy!