Tuesday, October 31, 2006


National Novel Writing Month begins in a little over 12 hours for me. Less for others across the time zones. All over the world fingers are poised over keyboards just waiting for 12:01 Nov. 1st. Of course, many others are doing the more sensible "start at a decent time" thing.

I'm not sure when I'll start. Guess it sorta depends on how I feel later. I must say though, I'm so ready!!! I hope you're ready too. However, if you're what. Go for it anyway. Remember, the motto of NaNoWriMo is "No Plot, No Problem."

If you do want to do some last minute plotting check out the NaNo Planning Thread at StoryCrafters. There's a lot of good info. Remember too, you don't have to have the whole novel plotted out. You can start and see where your characters take you.

Why do NaNo though? For me, it is the freedom to let the muse run wild without my internal editor looking over her shoulder pointing out mistakes or better ways to say something. Also, there is a major confidence surge when you actually realize you can write a novel first draft in a month. Sure it is a rough first draft but that's fine. It can be fixed later.

If you haven't decided to join us in our Nov. madness, I want to encourage you to do so. Even if you don't reach the goal of 50,000 words you will be farther along than when you started. Check out all the NaNo info here.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Scams and Such

Nothing gets this troll more upset than being taken advantage of. Especially when it's my dreams that get shattered. As writers we get enough disappointment in the many form rejection letters that are standard practice in the publishing world. We don't need scam agents taking our hard earned money, promising us the best seller list and then disappearing with our money and dreams.

This weekend, I join Miss Snark and Kristen Nelson in the war against scam agents and agencies. The International Independent Literary Agents Association is an association of agents (and I really don't think they deserve to be called agents) to be aware of and stay away from. The agents that make up this association are on the Worst Agents List. This list was put together by WRITERS BEWARE which is sponsored by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America organization. Here is their take on this.

The point to all this is...DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!! Don't let your dream of being published get squashed by all the bad guys out there. Check out potential agents at Writer's Beware, Preditors & Editors, Agent Query and most importantly (IMO) The Association of Artists' Representatives.

I know agents are hard to catch. But the better informed you are, the less mistakes you will make during the hunt:-)And to start you are a couple signs of agents to stay away from.

* They charge money before selling your book. No matter what they call it, you never pay an agent. They don't get paid until they sell your book, then they are the ones that pay you:-) flows to the author, to away from.

* They have no sales listed. If they have no sales or list sales to vanity presses then stay away.

* They refer you to an editor/editorial service. Again, this is a no no.

All in all...when it comes right down to it...getting published is a business with snakes just like every other business. We have to be aware of those snakes or we'll get eaten. Don't let that happen to you and your dreams.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hooks pt. 2

Miss Snark will be doing another Crap-o-meter on Dec. 15th. It will be just for hooks:--) You can find all the details at her blog but the general rules right now are you email her hook of not more than 250 words. She will post it to her blog, let you know if you hooked her. If you did, you get to send more to her to critique.

She will be posting more details as the time gets closer. She has also posted a couple examples. If you are seriously interested in getting a great hook, check back through her archives for the last Crap-o-meter and read the query letters and why or why not she'd ask for more.

Good luck y'all.

Speck to work on my hook some:--)


Reading around the blog world, one thing several agents have mentioned is that it doesn't take long to decide if they are interested in a story. When Miss Snark did her last Crap-0-meter, sometimes she could tell if she was interested within the first paragraph. Many times even the first sentence was enough.

From that, and other comments I've come to the conclusion as a writer I have to catch the interest of the reader as soon as possible. But how do we do this?

Many "experts" advise starting right in the middle of the action. I'm not so sure about this. Sometimes it just doesn't work. Sometimes we need a little more info to get settled in the story.

For myself, I like an opening that causes the reader to ask questions. If the reader is wanting to know more about the story then there is a good chance they will continue reading. And that is a good thing.

At StoryCrafters we have a thread for our members to post their opening lines. Stop by, add your opening hook and check out the others already there. And be sure to let us know which openings actually hook you and have you wanting to read more.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Ergonomics and You

Before I left the workforce in 2004, I was employed by a company that had a Health and Wellness Program. This program included one of the best things I had ever heard of - an ergo audit. A person from Health Services came down to review your workstation and instituted changes to make your work area ergonomically correct.

A day after my workstation was audited, Maintenance had come in and lowered my writing surfaces and installed a keyboard tray. They adjusted my office chair and purchased a footrest. I felt the effects almost immediately.

We don't all have the resources to make such changes, but as writers we know the importance of taking care of our bodies so they can keep up with our creative minds. Here are some ways to keep your body healthy while your mind spins a good yarn:
  • Use a writing surface that is 30 inches off the ground for long-hand and 26 inches off the ground for keyboarding.
  • Adjust your office chair so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when your arms are resting on the work surface.
  • Your bottom should be against the back of your chair and there should be a cushion which causes your lower back to arch slightly to avoid slumping forward or slouching down.
  • Your computer monitor should be placed in front of you at a distance of at least 20 inches away.
  • Use a wrist rest to reduce injury.

It is also important to understand your body isn't meant to sit for extended periods of time. Get up and walk around for at least a minute every half an hour.

The links below contain additional information about ergonomics. Stay healthy and keep writing!



My copy of By the Chimney With Care finally arrived today. How exciting!!! There is just something about the feel of a new book. The shiny cover and smooth, uncrinkled pages. There was also a bookmark included that matches the front cover and lists all the contributing authors.

I love the feel of being published. And while I've been published quite a few time on the web, this is my second "paper" publication. The first was a nonfiction article and all I was able to see was a couple of pages torn out from the magazine with my article on them.

But much, much cooler. Right there, on page 173 "Secret Santa" by Jean Lauzier. Even cooler is the thought that somewhere out there in reader land, someone is reading my story. And possibly years down the road, someone might find a copy of this anthology and read it.

My son asked if I was taking the book to church Wednesday night to show everyone? What a silly question, I want the whole world to see it:--)

Another thing I love about this book is how it helps a great cause. All the proceeds go to Toys for Tots to help make Christmas better for those in need. So...for all you mystery/suspense readers, order your copy today. This also makes a great Christmas gift for the those on your gift list:-)

You can order here.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


Hard to believe but another week has passed. While that means we are a week closer to NaNo, that also means a week closer to the holiday madness. I don't know about you, but I put off dealing with the holidays as long as possible. So, we won't talk about them least not today:-)

I found a new agent blog I like this week. I haven't read all her posts yet (I'll cruise the archives one of these days.) but I really like her. Jenny Rappaport is an agent at the L. Perkins Agency. Stop by and check her out when you get a chance.

I also try to read Evil Editor at least once a day. At his blog, writers can send in their first 150 words. Not only will they get reader feedback he also lets his readers (evil minions) write a short continuation for the start. Some continuations are funny, some are scary:--) Also, writers can send in their query letters for his comments. Again, there is lots of interesting reader feedback. While I don't take everything there to heart, some of the reader insight is helpful.

Anna Louise Genoese is an editor at TOR. Her blog has a LOT of personal things along with work related posts. She is very much into fanfic so if you are interested in that, you might enjoy her blog.

In Other News...

Thursday evening we had a great forum/interview with Tony Burton of Wolfmont Publishing He really gave us a LOT of info on how the publishing business works. Wolfmont publishes mystery and suspense work. However he has an imprint called Honey Locust Press which is geared toward the more family friendly writing. If you are considering publishing with a small press, I can think of no better place to start.

And if you like mystery/suspense stories...check out his ezine Crime and Suspense. It is free so sign up and support your local editor:--)

Have a great weekend y'all!!!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Today in chat rat brought up an interesting point. And, I've had it happen too. As a writer we put out our precious words for others to critique but the comments we get back are all over the place. What's up with that? How can we use comments that are so different or clearly don't get what we are trying to accomplish?

I think the thing to keep in mind is who the reader is. Not just who they are as a person but who they are as far as a writer/editor and just what they know about writing in general.

For example: At StoryCrafters we have many different levels of craft among our members. And that's great. We have beginners just starting their writing journey along with members that are not quite so new and are starting to feel confident enough to send out their stories and articles. Plus, we have a few writers who are more experienced, have some publishing credits to their name and are much farther along in their career.

The problem comes when we expect a new writer to critique like a professional. As much as they would like to, they just don't have the knowledge and experience to do so. But, we shouldn't look down on their critiques because of that. As readers they can tell us what they liked, what seemed wrong though they may not know why and what didn't work for them. It is nice to have a reader that isn't going to get so caught up in craft issues and ignore the story.

Another problem arises when a professional critiques a beginning writer's work as if they were professionals with publishing credits and a thorough knowledge of the craft of writing. Many new writers just can't handle the fact that they have lots to learn. As writers we are so close and in love with our writing we just can't see the flaws.

All of that to StoryCrafters, everyone should take part in critiquing. Not only do you learn to see flaws in other's material, it teaches you to recognize it in your own. No one should feel bad for not knowing as much as someone else.

Also, no one should be afraid to post their work and ask for a critique. The goal of every critique should be to make the piece better. Not to change it to how we would write it or what we think would be a better story. We need to keep that in mind.

You know something though...the more critiques you do, the better you get at them. So, if you have access to the Snack Table, get yourself to StoryCrafters.

Do that critique to the best of your ability and help a fellow writer out:--)


Monday, October 16, 2006


Here's the good news at StoryCrafters.

"Bust Through the Holiday Stress and Keep on Writing" sold to Writer2Writer. Cheryl says she isn't sure when it will be out but I'm betting soon. I'll add a link soon as I know.

The December issue of Long Story Short will feature the writing of two StoryCrafters members. Lorib sold them "Jason's Christmas Gift" and gwanny sent them Momma Peed the Bed Last Night.

Congrats to the three of you. And if anyone else sure to let us know so we can all applaude.


And don't forget to purchase your copy of "By the Chimney with Care". This is a very cool Christmas crime anthology filled with great stories. All the proceeds go to Toys for Tots so not only are you getting a great book, you are helping kids have a better Christmas. My contribution is called "Secret Santa".

Saturday, October 14, 2006

In the blog-o-sphere...

As a writer, I know you have many things to be doing other than reading someone else's blog. But...there are a lot of things you can learn from them. From my own personal experience, I've found a couple of agents that I'd love to work with. Their personalities come shining through on their blogs and we would work well together. (Now to convince them:--) I also found someone I'd much rather not work with. Our personalities and beliefs are just too different.

Also, many of the agent blogs I regularly read post things they've seen in their slush pile, things they don't want to see or things they would love to see. Nothing like getting a bit of a insight that might give me an edge in the slush pile.

Here's my favorite posts for the week.

At Miss Snark she gives us a view into her slush pile. On that day, she opened 20 queries. Ten got an immediate no. One was a referral from a trusted source so was put aside to be read later. That left nine...five got a no and four got a 'to be' read. These weren't partials, they were just the query letter. Sorta reaffirms the importance of a great query letter doesn't it.

Jennifer Jackson has an interesting discussion about e-queries. The comment thread makes good reading too. I really like this blog. Personally, I much rather spend the money to send a query the old fashioned paper way. I'm glad she likes them too.

Kristin Nelson likes her queries to arrive by email. This week she posted about referrals and recommendations. Very interesting couple of posts.

Rachel Vater posted a discussion on personal writing styles I found quite interesting. Also, she shared the good news of an auction that ended with a three book deal for one of her client's "first" book. This was goes to show that good writing really does trump all.

Have a great weekend y'all!


Link fixed:--) Thanks. Guess I should check them before I post. Sigh.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Okay, I'm convinced...

Well, maybe anyway:--) But we'll give it a shot. Just don't expect daily updates.

While pondering by the moat, I thought of a couple things we could try here. Guest bloggers of course. I'll have to see who I can invite but I'll ponder some more on that. Also, since I tend to read several very informative industry blogs, I thought maybe a "weekly highlight" type post. Probably on Saturdays:--)

If you have any other ideas you'd like to see here, post them to the comment section and we'll see what we can do.