Thursday, September 27, 2007

Writerly Lessons from a Pirate

Hey all...

I found this really cool blog for entrepreneurs on lessons from a pirate. didn't take long for me to see that writers could learn from pirates too. So, here's...

10 Lessons for Writers from a Pirate.

1. Get a Parrot - For writers, the parrot is a mentor. Mentors can speed up your trip along the voyage to publication. They'll teach you things it would take years for you to learn on your own. And while the proper mentor may be hard to find...they will definitely be worth the work.

2. Consider the EyePatch - Writers must see things differently than non-writers. We pay attention to what's going on around us and sometimes we write it down to use later. Things that seem normal or of no consequence to others trigger story ideas and excite the writer's soul.

3. Funky Pirate Wear & Eye Liner - Just as pirates don't conform, neither do writers. Our characters become our best friends and meeting a word count goal is cause for celebration.

4. Any Weather, Any Time - A pirate's ship and crew can handle any weather. So can writers. We take the good days with the bad or the acceptance letters right along with the rejection letters.

5. Live & Die by the Team - For a pirate, his crew is family and very important. Well, writers need a "team" too. Not only do we need a supportive "home" team, we need critique partners and readers. We need editors and agents. Then we need promo people.

6. Bicorne hat - Don't you just love the bocorne hat? Writers will wear the many different hats of our characters. We become our characters, we learn their jobs to get the details right. A writer has a varied barrel of knowledge to draw upon...and if we don't know, we'll find someone who does or take a class to learn ourself.

7. Peg Leg - The peg leg represents our limits. These may be lack of formal education or shoulder vultures. But we continue to strive toward our writing goals. We don't let self-doubt stand in our way.

8. Hook - Got to have a hook! Not only do we have to hook our readers, we have to hook the agents and editors. Here's where the team will come in handy...they'll help you polish that hook until it shines!

9. Treasure - For the writer, the Treasure is having others read our words and be touched by them. We'll do just about anything to get that treasure too. All day sessions at the puter, up half the night arguing with our characters about the plot lines... Nothing is too difficult as we make our way toward the treasure.

10. They just arrrrrrr! - Pirates don't have to be told they are pirates. They know they are. Same thing with writers. We just know we are meant to write. We have a passion that burns within us...a passion that insists we write. And so we do!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

I'm exhausted. I could easily crawl into bed and sleep for at least four more hours.

But, I can't. Both my daughters are in school today and that means getting my rear end in gear so that I can accomplish as much from my to-do list as possible.

October and November are going to be big months around here. I have a radio interview to prepare for, workshops and chats I am participating in for the Muse Online Writers Conference, two Virtual Book Tours to coordinate, and my school visits during Musing Our Children's Reading and Writing Appreciation Week to prepare for and attend. This doesn't take into account my other writing related projects or all my volunteer work with church and my daughters' schools.

Is it any wonder that I stay up until 1am most nights?

Getting only four to five hours of sleep a night for over 3 months is beginning to take its toll. I am ill-tempered and have a short fuse. I procrastinate more often. Today, I awoke to a scratchy throat and sniffling nose.

So, have I really done me or my writing career any good? No!

I often remind people to take care of themselves. Today's society seems to be made up of a bunch of busy people moving in ten different directions all at once. Why is it I don't take the advice I dish out? Do I think somehow I am immune to getting run down? Will life suddenly fall into place only because I am depriving myself of much needed rest?

Today, I am determined to start taking my own advice. Whether that means cutting back on Internet surfing time or the one hour of television I allow myself each day, I am going to make a point to be in bed by 11PM most nights of the week. I owe it to myself and to my writing career to be the best I can be. I can't do that if I am stuck in bed nursing some virus that I got because I wasn't smart enough to get the rest I need.

Burning the candle at both ends doesn't work--never has and never will. If you want to make the most out of your writing time, make sure you do it with a clear, well-rested head.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Does It Run In The Family?

I don't know if I am what you would call a typical published author, but when I began writing at the age of fifteen it was with no thoughts of publication - I just had this compulsion to write. Over the years, my outlook remained the same, I wrote to amuse myself and friends, still with no thoughts of approaching a publisher. However, my outlook changed when I joined a writers' group at our local college and the lecturer who headed the group badgered me into submitting my work.

I work mainly on the computer and it was to the internet I turned when looking for a suitable publisher who would accept submissions electronically. Unfortunately, there seemed no such publishers in the UK therefore I turned my attentions to the USA. I had several novels under my belt but 'Dominic' a Georgian Romance, was the first one I sent out to All Romance Books - an ebook and POD publisher. They loved it and asked if I had any other manuscripts so I submitted 'My Dearest Friend', a Regency. They took both books but my debut was cut short when, due to the owners demise, All Romance Books was forced to close.

At that time, I was awaiting a heart bypass operation and, believing I had had my five minutes of fame, thought my publishing career was over. However, shortly after the operation, I decided to try submitting once again. I sent the two manuscripts out to Wings ePress who, within five weeks, offered me a contract on both books. At the same time I approached Triskelion with 'The Portrait', which they immediately took. Wings then accepted 'His Shadowed Heart' and with four books waiting for release, I began to feel that I was making some headway toward becoming a 'published author'. However, things don't always run smoothly in the publishing world and once again I was doomed for disappointment when Triskelion filed for bankruptcy before 'The Portrait' hit the shelves and, along with the other Triskelion authors, I am now awaiting the release of my rights so that I may submit elsewhere.

I write for the love of it and don't work to a trend or formula - I write what pleases me. I usually make a brief outline as to where I want the story to go and then just let it unfold. It's like watching a play evolve and quite often my characters take me off at a tangent. For instance, I didn't know when I began writing 'My Dearest Friend' that Stefan had an illegitimate daughter until the sergeant strolled onto the stage and told me.

In my youth, I never envisioned myself becoming a published author and even now, when I stop and think about it, it doesn't seem quite real. People often ask me why I write and the answer is that I don't know - it's just a compulsion that I can't ignore. Their next question is does it run in the family and up until now I have always said no - then I remembered what my mother told me about my maternal grandfather. James Hackney was a quiet man. He could neither read or write and worked on the kilns at a pottery manufacturers. However, he was a poet and story teller who was in great demand in the 1920's and 30's. It amazes me that, without the ability to write, he was able to commit so much to memory. Perhaps it does run in the family after all!

Hazel Statham

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Clarity in Our Communications

I slid into a hot bath last night and pulled Judo Moreo's latest book, You Are More Than Enough Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power off the corner of the tub and found my place (marked securely with the attached blue satin bookmark).

I read the words "Powerful Communication" and stopped. Communication is something I've always struggled with. I think that's part of why I'm a writer--it gives me time to compile my thoughts instead of trying to scramble them together with people surrounding me, waiting for an answer.

Judi shared the eight realities about communication that exist at any given time.

* What I mean to say
* What I actually do say
* What you heard me say
* What you thought you heard me say
* What you mean to say
* What you actually do say
* What I heard you say
* What I thought I heard you say

I thought about these realities for several minutes and then I started reading again to see how I could apply what Judi had to say about powerful communication to my life.

But, then I had another thought--the first four realities also apply to our writing.

When I sit down and create a story, I can see the picture of it clearly in my head. I know what I mean when I write those words. I know what I am implying through the actions of my characters. I know what message I want to send to the reader.

But often times, what I have written and how the reader interprets it, are two different things. I usually discover this during a critique when a comment comes back and I think, "That's not what I meant at all."

When we sit down to write, it is important to remember the realities of communication and to strive for clarity so what we say on paper is the same as what the reader sees in his head, because we are not standing in front of the reader to explain what we meant.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Road to Publication by Caridad Pineiro

With my seventeenth novel, SOUTH BEACH CHICAS CATCH THEIR MAN, about to be released by Simon & Schuster's Downtown Press, one of the most common questions I get asked is "What do I need to do to get published?"

The most obvious answer is that you sit down and start writing your book and surprisingly that is not the answer I would give most beginning writers.

Why? Having started off that way myself, I found that it took me quite some time to learn some very important things about both the craft and the business of writing. Things that I needed to know in order to finally sell my first novel.

So what would I recommend to someone as the steps to take in the road to publication?

1. What genre will your book fit in? Is the book you wish to write a romantic suspense, paranormal, women's fiction, cozy mystery or does it fall into any of the dozens of other genres that exist in the Publishing world?

Why is this important? Unless you are writing literary fiction, it is important to understand the nature of the genre and what is expected for that genre. The genre is shorthand for a certain set of expectations that editors and readers will have about the story. Editors like to be able to say at their editorial meetings "I've got a great women's fiction piece about four friends living in Miami that I'd like to acquire."

Not sure what genre? For a list of sub-genres in the romance industry, check out the list at the Romance Writer of America. For non-romance fiction genres, here's another good spot for you to check.

2. Which publishers would be interested in your book? Go to the shelves of your local library or bookstore. See what books would be similar to what you would like to write. It will give you an idea of what publishers are interested in that kind of work. Open the book and check the dedication or acknowledgements. That might give you a clue as to the editor or agent who bought and/or represented the novel.

3. Check the guidelines for those agents and/or editors. Many publishers have their guidelines on their websites. Eharlequin is a great example of publisher's guidelines. The guidelines will tell you how long the book should be, which editors are interested in acquiring, etc. Unfortunately, the guidelines may also say that the publisher will only accept manuscripts from agents. You can also look at books from Writers Digest and there's a great book by Jeff Herman that I recommend -- Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Editors, Publishers, and Literary Agents.

Once you know what genre you are going to tackle and what the length of the book will be, you can start to "write" and avoid needless revisions because the book was too long, too short, didn't have the right elements for the genre, etc.

4. How do I know that my writing is any good? The next step is to find a group that will help you improve the craft of writing. You may find a critique group at a local book store or library (For example, I host one at a local book store). If the genre in which you are writing has an association, see if you can join. For example, the Romance Writers of America has both a national chapter and local chapters that meet and provide workshops and conferences on the craft. With every book you write your skill as a writer should grow. I find that with each editor with whom I work, I learn something new and valuable that I try to apply to future novels.

5. Do I have to finish the book in order to submit it? In general, editors and agents will like to see complete manuscripts from unpublished authors or even published authors if they are writing in a different genre. This happened to me on two occasions. First when I went from writing contemporary romances to paranormals and again when I went from paranormals to women's fiction. So the answer is generally, "Yes, you should finish the book."

6. The book is finished so how do I submit? See 2 and 3 above. Check the guidelines and understand which publishing houses require agents and which don't. When it comes to both agents and publishers, if anyone asks for money up front, reconsider. Agents and publishers should not ask for reading fees or fees to print your book in general. Some e-publishers will charge nominal set-up fees to print a previously e-published book.

7. The book is finished and submitted. What do I do next? Start another book and get it ready to send out. Publishers like writers who can deliver books on a regular basis. It allows them to build you as a writer. I always have multiple projects in the works even when I am working on a contracted book.

I hope the above has been helpful and if you need any more advice, I have a Resources for Writers section on my site that you can check for more information or just drop me an e-mail by visiting my website.