Posts Tagged ‘ novels ’

Writing Wednesday

  Every Wednesday is Writing Wednesday for me. I used to write more often, but with limited time comes more a more budgeted writing effort. And while it would be nice to have the freedom to write throughout the day and night, I’ve found that if I don’t make time for writing it won’t get done.

During the day while I’m at work all I can think about are my characters, where I want the story to go or how to resolve any issues that have come up while I’ve been writing. But after work, it’s another story. I don’t know if I’m alone on this, but no matter how excited I am at the thought of getting home and writing at the end of the day, a lot of times it just doesn’t happen. There seem to be any number of reasons why I don’t make the time to write: I’m tired, I have to workout, I have to go to the grocery store, I have to run errands… That’s why I instated my Writing Wednesday policy. I’m always happy for it, but sometimes I just need to give myself that extra nudge to get the job done. πŸ™‚

And while I believe in making resolutions throughout the year as they are more likely to be kept by me, I want to set aside time to write at least two days a week in 2012 (if not more). I think that’s a very attainable goal.

Here’s what I’m wondering though – everyone has obligations/distractions in their lives that take them away from writing. What do you need to do in order to stay diligent as a writer? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Writing Wednesday! πŸ˜€

NaNoWriMo – Where Do I Go From Here?

The end is near….! For NaNoWriMo that is. πŸ™‚

I hope you are taking a short time out to read this and then getting back to writing, writing, writing. Now is the time you stop doing all those things that make you human and focus on finishing that novel! Stop showering, don’t run that errand to Target, don’t bother vacuuming and don’t even THINK of shopping at etsy. Just don’t do it.

Starting tomorrow you can get back to your old life. The life where you thought about things other than character development, plot twists and story arcs. But, I have a confession to make, my month of writing didn’t exactly go according to plan. While I didn’t crash and burn, I didn’t make the time to write as I should have. I can blame my lack of focus on any number of life hiccups, the truth is I dropped the ball or the pen as it were.

Moving forward

First of all – WOOHOO! YOU DID IT! YOU FINISHED YOUR NOVEL! YOU TOTALLY ROCK!:D

If this is your first attempt at completing a novel it can be just as daunting to know where to go after your first draft (yes, that’s right, first) is finally completed. Through trial, error, and much advice, here’s my list of what to do after that first draft is wrapped:

1. Walk away. Don’t even think about your novel for at least a few days. Take time to recharge your creative batteries and go for a walk, visit a museum, read, before going back to your novel. But don’t wait too long to go back or you might be tempted to fall out of the writing habit.

2. Revise, revise, revise. My favorite method is to print out my first draft (double-sided to save paper of course), choose a colored pen, and rip through my novel one page at a time correcting as I go. Then I retype my revisions, walk away, and go through my novel again to see if I can find any further discrepancies, blatant grammatical errors, or any other last minute changes I want to make.

3. Give your novel to someone else to read. Don’t give it to someone who’s going to lather you with praises. Do give it to someone (or someones) who will give you constructive criticisms that will help you hone your craft and perfect your work. This is the time a trusted writing group will come in handy.

4. Revise. Correct any worthy suggestions your critics may have made. As much as it might sting, they probably see things you missed after being so engrossed in your art for so long.

5. Develop a thick skin. After you’ve gotten your novel to a point where it’s as polished as you can make it, research agents that represent your genre (young adult, science fiction, Christian, etc.) and work on writing a query letter. Write a synopsis too if you can. The road to getting an agent isn’t an easy one for most, so don’t take it personally if your novel doesn’t get the response you’d like it to initially. Just remember even renown authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling got dozens of rejections and Kathryn Stockett of The Help fame received 45 during her five years of trying to find an agent. So don’t lose hope!

But most of all, never give up on your writing dreams!

Best wishes and happy writing! πŸ˜€

Censored

When I went to my writer’s group the other day (note I’m calling it mine already πŸ˜‰ ), the topic of what we would do as writers if asked to change our novel in a way we aren’t comfortable with. For example, upping the violence or sex quotient because it will sell more books. It made for a lively dialogue and has made me think a lot about keeping the integrity of the book vs. nabbing an agent. While I haven’t been faced with this dilemma, it seems as though it’s become a hot topic of late. Sometimes banning books doesn’t always happen after it’s published. Sometimes books are banned, partially or entirely, because there’s a stigma or preconception that certain elements sell and others don’t.Β  And since Banned Book WeekΒ  is almost upon us (Sept. 24 – Oct. 1) I wanted to see if anyone’s ever experienced this or know someone who has.

Yesterday, an article on being censored popped up in my email. The article was written by co-authors Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith relating to their experiences in trying to find an agent for their post-apocalyptic YA novel, Stranger. Their novel has a main character who is gay, has a boyfriend, and *egad* kisses him! They spoke to an agent who would sign them on the condition that the character was made straight. They refused to change their character on the basis that heterosexual couple sell more books and the agent refused to sign them. Banning a book before it even gets a chance to hit the shelves!

I’ve found that a lot of the covers of my YA novels feature waifish, white, flawless girls on their covers. And while I understand that many of these have central characters as white, females, not all do. I read a book, that shall not be named, recently where the female protagonist was severely physically flawed. The cover? An alabaster-skinned girl with no noticeable physical defects. For some reason publishers think that us as readers aren’t willing to invest in any cover with a less than model perfect, white person gracing it. I was way more frustrated when I found out that the heroine was flawed because I felt like I’d been tricked by the cover.

I do think it’s an interesting topic of conversation as I’ve been tempted to change some characters based on what I think will sell and I think that’s a shame.

YA authors asked to ‘straighten’ gay characters

Authors Say Agents Try to β€œStraighten” Gay Characters in YA

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by the lovely Sheila @ Book Journey. Stop by and see what everyone’s talking about!

Another rainy week, but was still able to get out for a couple long runs to keep up with my half marathon training. My race, the half-marathon portion of the Philadelphia Marathon, is only a couple of months away now which is crazy! I feel like I’m on track with my training though, so I feel confident with my ability to be ready by Nov. 20. Yay! πŸ™‚

I’ve been a reading fool these past couple of weeks and since I didn’t get a chance to post my reads last week, they’ve been piling up! I’m still waiting eagerly for the highly anticipated latest release from one of my fav authors, Louise Penny called A Trick of the Light, (if you like English style mysteries, you have to read her books! Start with Still Life, the first in the series…) but since my library is being agonizingly slow, here’s what I’ve been reading in the interim…

  The Body in the Transept by Jeanne M. Dams – The first in the Dorothy Martin mystery series about a widow who lives in an English village and quite inadvertently becomes the local Miss Marple. Charming and clever with great characters, this series is perfect for those crisp days spent curled by the fire. In the traditional English mystery style of writing, readers will be delighted by the mystery without having to be faced with the violence or high suspense found in many thriller mysteries.

  The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler – Touted as the greatest crime writer to come out of Sweden, following the likes of Steig Larsson, and international best seller, I couldn’t help but pick up Kelpler’s book. In direct opposition to my beloved English-style mysteries, Kepler’s novel presents a unique element in the hiring of a hypnotist in solving a brutal crime. And while I think I know where the story is going (I’m listening to this on CD and the narrator is very good), Kepler spins such a descriptive tale in a distinctive voice that I’m thoroughly enjoying my dark car rides.

  Invincible, Vol. 1, by Robert Kirkman – Kirkman may be best known of late for inspiring the gruesome Walking Dead TV series, but Invincible didn’t disappoint either. Filled with unique characters and lots of action, it made for a fast read.

  The Wandering Son: Vol 1 by Shimura Takako – This was my first time reading any of Takako’s work and I am completely a fan now! Between the crisp illustrations and the intriguing story line, I spend through this thick mango volume in a day. The story revolves around a young boy who feels more comfortable dressed as a girl and a girl more comfortable dressed as a boy. The story touches on the beginning of their self-discovery so it hasn’t gotten into any deeper into how this affects their families and their friends, etc., so I’m already eagerly waiting on the next in the series. I don’t know of many authors willing or capable of touching on transgender topics and I appreciate it when topics I’m not familiar with are written about in kind and insightful ways.

What have you been reading this week?

Writing Revisions 101

  When I first starting writing my YA novel, I believed my first draft would be a masterpiece. Maybe not the next great American novel, but most definitely publishable. I was absolutely, one hundred percent, without a doubt, certain of this. (Keep laughing, I’m sure you’ve been there too…) Well, surprise, surprise, it wasn’t. Not even close. But despite not hitting a home run my first time at the writing table I just as quickly realized this and returned to my notes to work on revisions.

Revisions are a necessary part of any writing. And if you’re a novice such as myself, then revisions will be even more important a part of the writing process that the actual first draft. This isn’t easy to hear since we all want our fledgling books to take off as soon as we pen that final word to create (can it be true??) a finished novel. However, finished and really FINISHED are two very different things. But, if you can learn from those who have gone before you, then you are well on your way to polishing that novel to the point where you can send those anticipated query letters out without fear of one of them requesting a full manuscript.

While there are many tips, resources, and bastions of advice readily available to aspiring writers, here are a few I came across that I thought were particular good from the June issue of Writer’s Digest. (Paraphrased with personal comments of course…)

1. Give yourself (and your creative mind) time to rest and step back after you’ve finished your first draft. You’re so entrenched in your own story that it’s difficult to be objective and although this will never quite be achieved, you will be more objective after some time has elapsed.

2. Print out a hard copy to read through. I did this because it’s fun to use an old-fashioned red pen to correct my manuscript and it helped me to see things I may not have because of the different format.

3. Read it once through like your targeted reader. Did the overall story make sense? Are your characters developed enough? Are there any slow parts? Make a list to prioritize when you return to the writing table.

4. Analyze each scene and make notes to rewrite as needed. According to Writer’s Digest (and author James Scott Bell) a strong scene will have the following: A single point of view, a clear objective for the character, opposition (conflict) to the objective, a struggle that is felt emotionally by the POV character, an outcome that forces the reader to read on.

5. Details, details, details. Dull dialogue? Add more details! Flat characters? Add more details! Bland settings? Add more details! I understand that you might not want to reach an Austenian level of description, but if you want your readers to be transported to the world you’re creating then adding details is the backbone to doing that.

I found that I was so excited to tell the story and finish my first draft that I brushed past the rounded characters and the gripping scenes and had to go back to add those to my story. Revisions aren’t easy, but you can look at it as a way to get your novel one step closer to publishable form.

Happy writing! πŸ˜€

 

Six Signs You’re Getting Closer to Publication

1. You start receiving personalized, “encouraging” rejections.

2. Agents or editors reject the manuscript you submitted, but ask you to send your next work.

3. Your mentor (or published author friend) tells you to contact his agent, without you asking for a referral.

4. An agent or editor proactively contacts you because she spotted your quality writing somewhere online or in print.

5. You’ve outgrown the people in your critique group and need to find more sophisticated critique partners.

6. Looking back, you understand why your work was rejected, and see that it deserved rejection.

 

(This list was found in Jane Friedman’s article Revising Your Path to Publication found in Writer’s Digest, June 2011.)

Pitchapalooza

  What the heck is Pitchapalooza?

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this, well, phenomenon, for a while and, while intrigued, haven’t really looked into what the event is beyond what people have told me. The event began with Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry and is touted on their website, The Book Doctors, as an American Idol for writers. Any writer with an idea for a book is able to pitch it (in one minute) to a panel of judges. The judges then critique said pitches and even if you don’t make a pitch, you can still walk away with valuable advice on how to get your book published.

Eckstut and Sterry have also written a book entitled The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published which is chalk full of helpful tips, dos and don’ts, and all around good advice. Their philosophy is that anyone can get published, you just need to know how to go about doing it successfully.

The reason I started looking into Pitchapalooza and the Book Doctors is that I’m trying to host an event at the library I work at. I’m on a committee (one of many…) where the goal is to stay relevant and continue to drawn people in through the library doors. And with the ever-growing interest in writing, it seems only perfect to host such an event.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress just in case you live nearby (or don’t and are looking for adventure…) and want to participate.

I’ll leave you with a few topics that the Book Doctors cover during Pitchapalooza:

  • Choosing the right idea
  • Creating a blockbuster title
  • Crafting an attention-getting pitch
  • Putting together a selling proposal/manuscript
  • Finding the right agent/publisher
  • Self-publishing effectively with ebooks, print-on-demand or traditional printing
  • Developing sales, marketing and publicity savvy
  • Producing a video book trailer and helping it go viral
  • Building a following through social media

Happy writing! πŸ˜€

Finding Time to Write

  It’s hard to find time to write. Or rather, it’s hard to make time to write. I’m between books write now, having just finished my second and concentrating on sending out query letters. So I fell out of my writing habit. Ugh. Not good.

After work I have a limited amount of energy and that usually goes to walking the dog and exercising. By the time those things are finished and I’ve done other stuff like making dinner or going grocery shopping, all I want to do is read or watch TV to wind down my evening. Thus my days pass in a blur and before I know it it’s been three weeks and I haven’t written two paragraphs. Yikes!!!

After much contemplating, I realize that I’m going to have to schedule time to write. If I have a block of time after work I know I’ll fill it with other activities instead of writing, because, let’s be honest, writing is work. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy writing, but when I’m trying to figure out that tricky plot point it’s not exactly relaxing. Fun, yes, relaxing, no. But running miles and miles in the summer heat isn’t relaxing either and I always seem to make time for that. So why not with writing? When I considered this I realized it’s because my mind rests on a run, wandering here and there, and it’s rejuvenating for me.  And, when I make time to write, I can often figure out things I’m stuck on in my story while I’m running. Very cool. But I have to actually be writing in order to have these running epiphanies.

So I decided to make every Wednesday my writing day. Writing Wednesdays. It even has a nice ring to it. πŸ™‚

Every Wednesday after walking the dog, I will leave my house (too many distractions) and type for at least two hours on my laptop. I’m hoping these chunks of writing time will grow as I progress and I get back into the habit, but I don’t want to set myself up for failure right out of the gate. My siblings (I have three) and I just had a friendly short story competition (results aren’t back yet…our parents are the judges) and that really helped me to get back into the writing groove.

I’ll keep you posted. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you make time to write. What works best for you?

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