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Monday, December 31, 2007

Judi Moreo's Achieve Your Dreams Virtual Blog Tour


At this time of the year we always look back over the past and plan for the future. It's by seeing where we've been we can see where we need to go.

So...
Writing goals from last year accomplished...none. However, there's a good reason for this. In the middle of March I signed on as intern for Wow (women on writing) and before I knew it, I was Sen. Ed. working full time. Very much a learning experience but it sucked up all my time and creative energy. I did get some really nice articles and interviews published out of the time there, met some great people and again, I learned a LOT. Most important, I learned I'm a writer at heart. It's what I am and what I need to do.

As this year fades into the next, I'm privileged to take part in Judi Moreo's Achieve Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour. Judi is a wonderful personal coach and motivational speaker. If you are serious about reaching and achieving your dreams, check out her website and get to knew her better. She has some great articles and blog posts there.

One of the things she teaches in her book is...
“Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams.”
This is such a powerful statement. I mean, think about it. Each time you take a step forward, you are getting closer to those dreams. And, if you happen to take a step backward, that's okay too because sometimes we have to go backward to go forward.

To make the most progress though, we need to have a plan or a roadmap so to speak. Just a a map has check points, so does our plan.
This year, now that I'm no longer working for Wow, my writing goals are a priority. One of the things I'm doing to keep on track is preplanning my writing week. Not only does this let me know what I need to be working on but keeps me on track so I can see how much I've accomplished or where I've fallen behind.
I'm also reading books on writing in order to learn more about the craft. Right now, I'm reading Write Tight by William Brouhaugh.
Another important thing I'm doing is to let others know about my goals. At StoryCrafters and Write Spot we have some great folks who are ready to encourage, motivate, cheer and prod as needed.

Judi's put together a journal that goes along with her book that will show you how to go about achieving those dreams and goals.
Decide what you want to accomplish during 2008 and then go for it! Here's a great post from Judi's blog on goal setting.
Speck
If you would like to take part in Judi's Achieve Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour, email me and I'll send you the details.











Saturday, December 29, 2007

Judi Moreno's Achieve Your Dreams Virtual Blog Tour


With 2007 behind us and 2008 on the horizon, it’s time to reflect on how we want the rest of our journey here on earth to go. Do we settle for letting life happen or do we take steps toward achieving our dreams? Do we think about it or do we DO it?


If you have watched the movie, “The Secret,” then you understand the power of affirmative thinking = affirmative action. Are you taking those steps in the right direction to enjoy life at its fullest – whether it’s through financial success, relationship bliss or perfect health?


On January 1, 2008, Judi Moreo, author of You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal (Stephens Press, Dec. '07), will embark on a virtual book tour throughout the blogosphere, but it will involve YOU. She wants YOU to be the star in a campaign to let the world know how you are taking those steps in realizing your dreams.If you would like to become involved in her ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’08, here is how it works:


1. Repeat this passage from her book: “Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams” until you understand its powerful message.


2. Think about what steps you are taking to achieve your dreams and write about it. Your entry can be as long or as short as you’d like.

3. Post your message on your blog and give us the link so that we can post it on Judi's tour page at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/ (her tour page goes live tomorrow). Email us with your link at thewriterslife(at)yahoo.com.


4. When we receive your link, we will put it on our daily rounds of promotions, thus bringing you instant traffic, so get those links to us soon!


5. We only ask that you include the passage above before your blog post so that people will understand what you are doing.


6. We also ask that you include a jpeg copy of Judi’s book, You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal, in your blog post. You can find her book cover at http://tinyurl.com/3cqa46 and link it to http://tinyurl.com/ywf67x.


7. All participants will be listed at Judi’s tour page at http://www.virtualbooktoursforauthors.blogspot.com/ when they come in, stating the date on which their blog post will appear and will remain there indefinitely.


That’s all there is to it! Hurry before time runs out. Become involved in a nationwide campaign to bring in 2008 with a bang and help others realize that dreams are not something that happens; dreams are something that YOU make happen. Let's make 2008 the year when you realize your dreams and make them happen. Share your stories and become involved in Judi Moreo's "Achieving Your Dreams Virtual Book Tour '08" where YOU are the star!

Judi's virtual book tour will be highly publicized including press releases and other promotions. Let us know what steps you are taking to achieve success and be read by thousands of Internet users!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Take Your Time

I'm all for diving in and taking your chance. You have to get your stuff out there in order to sell it, right? But there's a very fine line between diving in and moving way too fast.

I moved too fast. In my head I was thinking, "The novel has been done for six months, let's get these queries out! I swore I would befor 2007 was over." So, in October I sent out a handful of queries. Not a ton, but among the first I sent out was one to my top agent pick. I then proceeded to ignore my query and move onto other things.

A month later with three rejections under my belt I went to AgentQuery.com to look up more agents that accepted e-queries. I pulled up my previous query letter and realized that my hook was far too wordy, and it wasn't enough of a hook. With frustration I reworked the hook, finding one I really liked and elicited a "wow" reaction from someone I was talking to.

I retuned the query letter and began sending queries again. I got halfway down my list of 18 and made another realization. I'd spelled a word wrong in my query letter. Yup. A typo in a query...GREAT first impression. Head hung in shame, I corrected it and sent out the rest of the queries.

In the days after sending out the round of queries I realized something else. I always knew my novel was on the high-end of word count (over to some agents), but I never saw anything "extraneous" to cut. Three days after I sent out a query I thought, "well, my first chapters HAVE to be tight. I'll just triple check them." I pulled up the novel and started 'tightening' the first two chapters. I cut close to 2,000 words in two chapters. Stunned, I sat back staring at my computer.

What had I done? I'd sent out 20+ queries in two months - several of which asked for the first 50 pages or 3 chapters - with a novel that I had just 'tightened' to make better for queries.

So, I put myself in the penalty box. If any of you have ever seen the movie Slap Shot, you know what I mean. To quote the movie:

"You go to da box for 2 minutes, ya know, by yourself...you feel shame...and then you get free." ~Denis Lemieux (Slap Shot)


So, knowing that the holidays were coming up, and I couldn't paper query until I had the funds to buy stamps and ink, I put myself in the penalty box. For two months, no querying, no agent search, no nothing but tightening Lisabeth. But that wasn't enough. I was allowed to tighten Lisabeth only on the condition that I also begin research on the next novel. Lisabeth could no longer be my focus, my baby. She was my pride and joy, and I'd been so eager to send her for others to love, that I hadn't realized she wasn't ready.

Sometimes you have to take a step back. I thought I had, but even though I'd taken a month or two to ignore the novel before going back to edit. But it wasn't enough. I had to find something else within me. Another story to write before I could truly look and see what work had to be done.

Every piece of writing is important to us. But if we focus on something too long (Lisabeth is 3 years old now, and the only storyline I've focused on for all that time, including her continuing saga of sequels) we fail to see its flaws.

Take your time. Don't send your baby into the world until it's ready. Find something else that drives you. If we are true writers we do have more than one story within us...we just have to find it and give it love and attention. Then we can look back at our older 'child' and make sure it's truly ready. When it is, it will shine bright! And you won't have a bit of regret in sending it out into the world!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Guest Post by Jean Hackensmith

My name is Jean Hackensmith, Owner and Senior Fiction Editor for Port Town Publishing. As both a publisher and an author, I have only one piece of advice for any would-be writers out there. DON’T GIVE UP!

I started writing 30 years ago and, trust me, I’ve seen and heard it all. In short, anything that has happened to you on your road to being a published author happened to me, too. I papered my office walls with rejection letters; I even got to the point were I was receiving personalized rejections…no more form letters. I was the victim of an unethical agent and an equally unethical editor. I turned down a contract from a large publisher—because my lawyer said they wanted too much. (Which they did. I would have given up virtually all rights to my work, which should never happen.) Yes, I’ve been through the gamut—like all of you—and I was tempted to just throw in the towel many times. In my case, I got so frustrated after losing $1500 to that unethical editor I mentioned that I said to heck with it and self-published my first book, Wagons To The Past. Luckily it paid off, and the sales from that book allowed me to start my own publishing company—but that’s another story.

Mainly, I guess what I want to relay in saying “Don’t Give Up” is to do whatever it takes to get your work out there—and if you’re a dedicated author who believes in his or her work, and you know it’s good (and don’t take the word of Mom and Grandma on that one) then keep trying.

When that manuscript comes back with a rejection letter, send it out again—the same day. Keep a list of potential publishers and just keep submitting until the list is depleted, then start a new one. Your persistence will pay off. One day you’re going to see your manuscript land on the right publisher’s desk on the right day at the right time and voila, you, too, will be a published author. This business takes about 20% talent and 80% persistence. Develop a tough skin and one day you’ll sit back and watch your dream come true.

Jean Hackensmith is the author of The “Passage” Time Travel Romance Saga, “The Gitche Gumee Saga”, “Wagons To The Past,” “Tender Persuasion” and “Sweet Hell, Bitter Heaven.” Her books can be purchased through Amazon.com or through the publisher web site at www.porttownpublishing.com.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Understanding Global Warming for Kids

Writing about science and economics - for kids!

By Holly Fretwell, author of The Sky's NOT Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming, from Kids Ahead Books (World Ahead Media)

Kids are the greatest. To hear them laugh and see them play is heart-lifting. To listen to them and learn from them is a joy of life. And to teach them is invigorating but it can be a challenge. I have two kids of my own that I read to every night. It is a magical time where we adventure into strange and foreign lands. It is one of the ways that we share ideas with each other and a time, that as a parent, I impart life lessons in ways that may otherwise come off sounding preachy and static -- not to mention boring.

To share some of these lessons I have written a book of my own. Writing a book for kids, however, is not the easiest task, especially my chosen topic; a non-fiction book discussing science and economics for 8-12 year olds. When writing The Sky’s NOT Falling: Why It’s OK to Chill about Global Warming, I had to focus on making complex concepts simple to understand for kids at different comprehension levels.

Since a kids' book in particular needs to be lively and engaging I tried to weave in some basic science and economic concepts without stopping the more entertaining narrative. I knew I needed to keep it simple while at the same time giving a fair explanation of sometimes technical concepts. I also wanted to bring light to some of the misconceptions that many kids have about global warming. After lots of help from friends and family I found what worked best was keeping the sentences short and snappy, the words uncomplicated, and the information unambiguous. I knew what it was I wanted to communicate, but I had to let go of the flourishes. Kids can’t be expected to understand, much less interpret, the phrases and clich├ęs that adults use without a second thought.

I found that asking my kids and their friends to give me feedback as the chapters progressed was immensely helpful (and they let me know what they did and did not like)! Their feedback helped me refine my explanations and descriptions and gave me confidence that the manuscript I turned in was, to use that famous expression, "kid-tested and mother-approved."

Writing The Sky's Not Falling: Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming was an incredible experience. It improved my writing skills by forcing me to be ever more precise, and gave me the opportunity to share the ups and occasional downs of the project with my sons helping them understand just what I do for a living as an instructor and researcher of natural resource policy and economics. In addition, if what I know can help kids relax about the natural changes in the world around them while teaching them to think critically and inspiring them to work towards the cleaner environment every community needs, then I consider the time I spent writing "Sky" to be time well spent. "

You can visit the publisher's website for info here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guest Post by Jim Melvin

Though I wrote The Death Wizard Chronicles in three years, the six-book series was a lifetime in the making. I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but I moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., when I was 5 years old and was raised on an island that jutted into Tampa Bay. I was lucky to grow up on a street on the waterfront that had about ten other boys my age, and we hung out morning, noon, and night. We played all the usual sports that young boys adore, but we also were obsessed with fantastical games that were based on super powers and and super heroes. Rather than "grow out of it," my love and fascination for magic and monsters remained with me into adulthood.

When I was in high school, I boldly decided that I wanted to become a best-selling novelist, and I went around telling everyone I knew that I was going to make $75-million. Keep in mind this was the mid-1970s, so that’s probably around $300-million, if you figure in thirty-plus years of inflation.

I wrote my first novel when I was 20 years old. It was a Stephen King-like horror novel titled Sarah’s Curse. An agent who was a family friend shopped it around, and though it received some nice responses, it never found a publisher. But I wasn’t overly concerned because I believed my second novel would be the one to hit it big. In the meantime, I started my career as a journalist at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida. For me, the rat race officially began. Soon I was working 50-hour weeks and raising a family – and there never was a second book. Twenty-five years later, I was fortunate enough to be able to semi-retire. In September 2004, I wrote the first word of Book One of The Death Wizard Chronicles. Seven-hundred-thousand words later, I’m in the final revision process of Book Six.

Life has an unusual sense of humor, and for a quarter-century my dreams were put on hold. That said, those 25 years ended up serving a valuable purpose. As a reporter and editor, I learned the craft of writing and met a lot of interesting people, significantly expanding my worldview and talents. When I finally began writing my epic fantasy series, I realized that work and family weren’t to blame for all those lost years. Instead, I simply had not been ready as a writer. Finally, it all jelled. This is my time.

I describe my series as a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien and Stephen King – Tolkien because it contains many aspects of epic fantasy, King because it’s pretty darn scary and rough. The Death Wizard Chronicles is a classic tale of good versus evil, with lots of action, monsters, and magic. It also contains a very compelling love story. But what separates my series from most others is that I am an active student of Eastern philosophy, which fuels my world view. The concept of karma and the art of meditation play key roles in the symbolic aspects of my work. While deep in meditation, Buddhist monks have had recorded heart rates of less than 10 beats per minute. My main character takes this to the extreme. In an original twist, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a “temporary suicide.” Through intense concentrative meditation, he stops his heartbeat briefly and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

My first wife and I divorced about 15 years ago, and I then remarried. My second wife is a Western-convert Buddhist in the Theravada tradition, and she introduced me to Buddhism. The philosophical aspects of Eastern philosophy really rang true for me and helped to further shape the person I have become. My series contains an ancient language that is directly translated from Pali, a dialect closely related to Sanskrit but now extinct as a spoken language. When translated to English, it is beautiful and erotic.

A wise man once said:
“In the end
these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?”

I live life this way. Or at least I try.


Jim Melvin is author of The Death Wizard Chronicles, a six-book epic fantasy. Book One (The Pit) was released in September 2007 by Rain Publishing, followed by Book Two (Moon Goddess) in October and Book Three (Eve of War) in November. Book Four (World on Fire) will be released in December, Book Five (Sun God) in January and Book Six (Death-Know) in February. The series is available for purchase at http://www.rainbooks.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/. The first shipments to Amazon have sold out, but more are on the way. Jim, 50, is married with five daughters and currently lives in Clemson, S.C. He welcomes personal emails at http://us.f592.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=jsmhimes@yahoo.com

Monday, December 17, 2007

Fantastical Worlds Made Real by Cat Muldoon

Fantasy automatically evokes a new world, and it needs to feel just as real as this world, even if there is magic or flying carpets or mythical beings. Making this happen, for me, means writing by feel. My opinion is that the story needs to be based on the interaction of characters and their rising heroism rather than on an idea. Oh, an idea may spark the story, but the characters are definitely in charge, and I do let them live their stories (with the occasional reining in as necessary).

Don’t get hung up on what part of the story comes to you first. Don’t be afraid to skip scenes if you’re not inspired yet in one area. Your deep mind will show you the way when it’s time. Don’t feel like you need to have a whole scene or chapter “done” before you can move on…unless that’s the only way you feel comfortable writing. I think a writer should let things flow and not get in the way. So if I’m writing a scene and it’s 5 pages of dialogue at first, I don’t stop to put in gestures or bits of action or have someone order pizza. Flow is a beautiful thing and should never be interrupted to worry over a word or fuss over details. I spiral back through the story to fill in details or movements or whatever is missing.

This means my scenes have bits of setting sprinkled through them, for the most part, and not in huge clumps. I like to let readers see through the eyes of the characters. I hate huge clumps of scenery that get in the way of the characters. It’s their story, after all. If you get a great sense of place and don’t know what the characters will say yet, write what you are moved to write for now and once you know the characters, they’ll tell you what they would say and hwo they would act. Trust yourself and trust the process. Also, leave the editing for a day when you’re not writing something new. The editor and writer are 2 totally different functions that don’t belong in the same head at the same time.

Maybe this will serve some of you budding writers reading this. I do what I call spiral writing. Spiraling…I adore spirals, and when I think of how Rue the Day came together, I really did spiral my way through. I didn’t do “first draft,” “second draft” as such. I spiraled through to add or change as the needs came to me. BUT I did have a sense of where the plot was going at all times right from the moment I realized this was not a short story.

Suspense is one of my favorite features in a story, and there is a lot of suspense in Rue the Day, and in many of my tales. I was a bit surprised Wings ePress put the book as fantasy romance, because I had always thought of it as fantasy suspense, or maybe epic fantasy. But they did see the 1 page summary of book 2 and a bit about book 3, which will have more romance, so I suspect that’s why Rue got billed as fantasy romance. The romance in the coming books won’t be soggy, though. There will be plenty of sparks and no easy answers.

No matter what genre you write, a good book should pull you straight in with the characters. You should see what they see and feel what they feel. The book should be luscious and tantalizing, yet full of conflict, especially in fantasy, where you have to create an entire world...

You can get a few bits of Rue the Day sent to your inbox by registering at http://CatMuldoon.com. You’ll also get teasers for the stories I have in anthologies or magazines and find out about my Story of the Month Club.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Keep Reading!!

First off, it's good to be making a blog post after so long an absence!!

**

Most of us became writers because we love to read. We have stories inside us that we want to share with others. Our own reading past influences our writing futures.

So we become writers. We spend a year, two years, three years, writing our piece. We care for it, we tend to it, we then rip it to shreds and edit it. We have others rip it to shreds. We become our harshest critic.

During all of this time, we still have the real world to deal with. We're writing, but we still have to exist in this world, too. We have jobs, families, errands to run, and leisure activities to enjoy.

It's easy to let some things slide, because we lead such a 'go-go-go' lifestyle!

I did that. The main thing I let slide - reading!

Yes, I know, it's a shock...not reading?! WHAT? Well, I have been writing my novel in earnest for about two years now. PRior to that I spent a year writing the novel and it's sequel for fun. Between researching, writing and harsh, evil edits, it's been a little over two years for Lisabeth now.

During those two years I've had one daughter face some serious health issues, I've become pregnant and had another baby girl, found out that my second daughter also had serious health issues, separated from my husband, gotten back together with my husband, had my oldest child go through two grades of school, nearly lost my house because of lack of funds, worked a part time job, started my own business, dealt with nearly daily therapies for both of my daughters, run to doctor's appointments on a bi-weekly basis, had health issues of my own, and become knee-deep in crafts of all kinds.

I've been busy.

Over the past six or eight months I've been editing. I've got folders of (somewhat) harsh critique on the novel on file. I have become my own worst critic, so determined to get my novel to an acceptable word count that I often find myself disgusted with my own writing. I see flaws where there aren't any in some cases. Opening my novel to edit has become a chore rather than a joy.

This past month I made a commitment, I agreed to review two books on my blog. I now HAD to read, when I'd managed to put it off as "frivolous" when I had things like Physical Therapy, specialist appointments to deal with.

I began reading with (unbeknownst to me) with the same harsh eye that I'd been using for my own piece. I saw some of the very flaws I'd been beating myself up over...in published novels!! Suddenly I relaxed. I read them for enjoyment. Were they flawed? Well sure, but I'd challenge anyone to read any novel and not find any flaws.

That's the beauty of it. I realized that my novel doesn't have to be totally free from flaws. It has to be crisp and clean, but perfect? No. I had crossed the line from constructive criticism of myself into the territory of being way too hard on the work. C/C is alright, as long as the beauty of the original piece isn't lost.

I'm going to keep reading, to keep reminding myself of this. That way I can open my novel to edit without hate in my eyes. And, perhaps, I can begin to get lost in others worlds again, not just my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Money Talk by Angela Benson

Let's talk about money. After you write that wonderful book and sell it to a great publisher, you sign a generous (or, not so generous) contract and wait for the royalties to pour (or, trickle) in.

Publishing contracts typically pay out every six months. The contract states that royalties for the January-June period must be mailed to the author by the end of September, while royalties for July-December must be mailed by the end of March. So, if you visit the blogs of all your favorite authors around these times and they’re deliriously happy, it probably means they got paid. Some authors out there may not be so happy as they may not have earned as much as they wanted. That’s the way it goes.

A couple of contract clauses can make royalty time a bit depressing for authors: joint accounting and reduced royalties on deeply discounted books. Let’s talk about these two so that you’ll know what authors face.

Joint accounting, also called basket accounting. What is joint accounting? I don’t have a definition but I can give an example. Suppose you have a two-book contract that includes an advance for the first book and an advance for the second book. In joint accounting, you have to earn back the money for both books before you get any more money. Let’s say you get $10,000 for the first book and $20,000 for the second book, a total of $30,000 in advances.

Typically, you’d get half of the first advance ($5000) and half of the second ($10,000), a total of $15,000, upon signing the contract. When you turn in book one and it’s accepted, you get the second half of the first advance ($5000), for a total of $20,000 in advances received. When the second book is turned in, you get the second half of the second advance ($10,000), for a total of $30,000 in advances received.

In joint accounting, you don’t get another dime from the publisher until you earn back the full $30,000. Suppose your first book earns $25,000 the first year? You don’t get any money because you still owe the publisher $5000 under joint accounting. Without joint accounting, you would have received royalties of $15,000 on the first book ($25,000 - $10,000 advance already received). Of course, you wouldn’t get any money on book 2 until you had earned back the $20,000 advance paid for it.

So, in joint accounting the payments for the books are lumped together, as opposed to each book standing on its own. Of course, if you’re getting $100,000 for the first book and $200,000 for the second, you may not mind joint accounting. You really have to look at all the terms of the contract.

Reduced royalties on books sold at a discount. Typically, bookstores buy books from publisers at 60% of the cover price. On a hard cover book, the standard royalty rate (the rate the author is paid) is 10% of the cover price for the first 5000 copies sold, 12.5% for the next 5000, and 15% for anything over 10,000. If you sell 1-5000 copies of a book that has a cover price of $22 dollars, you get $2.20/book.

The reduced royalties on discounted books means you’d get 10% of the net receipts of the book, rather than 10% of the cover price. So, if the publisher sells the book to the bookstore at a 50% discount, you 10% of the discounted price. If the book is $22, you get 10% of $11 or $1.10/book. You’ll notice that this is half of what you’d get under normal royalties. [To be fair, I think 55% is the deep discount point for most publishers, but 50% was an easier number to work with in the example.]

These two clauses are reasons enough to get an agent to negotiate on your behalf. Your agent may not always be able to get rid of the clauses, but she can advise you on ways to minimize their impact on your bottom line.

For my most recent book, The Amen Sisters, I negotiated my own contract. This was not a fun experience. I was uncomfortable bickering (that's what it seemed like to me) with the publiser so I finally caved in and signed the conract, even though I knew there were a couple of clauses that were not to my benefit. Somehow I convinced myself that they weren't that bad. They were.

If you're like me and lack the fortitude to endure the negotiation process, then pay an agent to do it for you. It's very easy for me to tell my agent that something is a dealbreaker, but it was impossible for me to say it directly to publisher. I guess I'm a wimp. The cost for being a wimp these days is 15%. I consider it money well spent.



Angela Benson is the author of The Amen Sisters ($13.99, Grand Central Publishing). "The Amen Sisters tells the story of sexual sin and the far-reaching consequences of that sin.. .Ms. Benson aptly captures both the passion and pain that folks bottle up in their lives, and the importance of dealing with situations as they arise. Kudos to Ms. Benson for dealing with one of the last remaining taboo topics in today’s church in such a straightforward and compassionate manner." -FallenAngelReviews.com

You can find Angela on the web at www.angelabenson.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Guest Post by Sydney Molare'

ARE YOU USING YOUR AUTHENTIC VOICE?

How many times have you been asked: So, who do you write like?

Irritating, I know. But the fact is, agents and publishers tend to have the sheep effect: If this one works, others just like it should follow the same path. They want more of what’s selling and if you aren’t it, many times you get the old rejection letter. And by the time you decide to play the game their way, giving the length of time between acceptance and actual publication, the market may be saturated. And that transmits into not so stellar sells. Which means you may not meet your advance, which in turn, translates into: Thanks but no thanks the second time around or you are pigeon-holed into a genre and can’t get you agent to “buy into” another genre.
Sometimes it seems like you can’t win, huh.

I realized early on I wanted to write in any genre I chose. Was I a hard “fit” for an agent? Sure. But I kept writing and publishing in various venues and soon, I had a following. People always knew, they never knew what to expect from me. I’ve written short stories, mystery/suspense (my favorite), erotica, quasi-Christian and mainstream. Bottom line, I write what I’d like to read in a novel. And if that “like” takes me down a different path than my last book, so be it.

Your authentic voice makes you stand out from the homogenous crowd. It makes a new reader take notice and cruise the net for your other works. It validates your soul when you get the email stating, “This novel is so different from the rest!” Blush. Blush.

I feel that as a writer, taking chances in your writing style is a good thing. The “sheep” may not notice it right away, but stay true to yourself. Eventually, “they” will get it and come calling.

Hopefully, the next time the question is asked, “So, who do you write like?” You can respond, “Me.”

Thanks for having me.

Sydney Molare

Get to know Sydney and her writing at her website.

Taking Stock of 2007

It's hard to believe that another year has come and is almost gone. Do you remember your goals for 2007? My list looked a little like this:

* Complete edits to The Sisterhood and begin agent search
* Get articles ready to submit to Writer2Writer http://writer2writer.com/ for review
* Perform research for A Shepherd's Journey and continue writing
* Revise Betrayal(now Montezuma's Revenge) and submit to Wolfmont Publishing
* Write and submit short story Rage

What did I get done? Not a lot from this list. Actually, only one thing, which was submitting my articles to Writer2Writer. This turned into a multi-article assignment and my time management and organizational tips for writers now appear on the site once a month.

But as for working on my manuscripts or increasing my overall number of submissions, I fell flat. I guess I should be upset and angry with myself...but I'm not. I still got a lot accomplished this year.

* My articles for Writer2Writer are so popular that the editor asked me to go from once every other month to once a month.
* I revised the prologue to The Sisterhood three times and finally feel it is up to snuff.
* I began interviewing authors of various genres at my blog, The Book Connection http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/
* Due to the interviews I was writing for The Book Connection, I began working with Pump Up Your Book Promotion PR http://pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/. Pump Up specializes in virtual book tours. I started off hosting their clients and now I am a Tour Coordinator.
* I review books for The Book Connection and The Muse Book Reviews http://themusebookreviews.tripod.com/

So, while everything that I've worked on did not directly work towards my goals, I am still promoting myself and my work. The Book Connection's rating and ranking continue to climb as I interview more authors and post book reviews. I network with people in the industry through virtual book tours and being a member of various writing related groups. I maintain my website and blogs so that people have a reason to come back.

Overall, I'm very happy with how 2007 turned out.

Next year already promises to be a good one. I have three clients signed up for virtual book tours for January and one for February. I plan to cut back on the number of reviews and interviews I offer outside of Pump Up Your Book Promotion's clients so that I can make time to submit more of my work. And, I am going to have the opportunity to present a workshop on time management and organization at the 2008 Muse Online Writers Conference http://www.freewebs.com/themuseonlinewritersconference/

I don't know how many of my goals I will achieve in 2008. All I know is that everything I do to promote myself is one step in the right direction towards becoming a published author.

So, don't beat yourself up if 2007 wasn't all you wanted it to be. Just keep plugging away, setting realistic goals, working towards them, and being flexible and forgiving enough to realize that goals can change quickly throughout the year. Believe in yourself and what you do. Persevere no matter what and be persistent in working to make your writing dreams come true.

That's what is is all about...and I know you can do it!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Activate those Adverbs! by Nelson Pahl

One of the sure signs that you’re reading an amateur, no matter how many books he or she has sold, is that hanging adverb in his/her dialog tag. This is, simply put, no-no numero uno in regards to fiction writing.

Adverbs are the lazy man’s way to penning fiction. The mission of any worthy writer (not merely a storyteller) is to eliminate as many adverbs as possible—in not only our dialog tags but also our narrative and our descriptive writing; we want to activate our writing.

We should never write: “And we both know you’re an expert,” she said sarcastically. That’s a lazy writer’s passage. Instead, we take the time to craft our message; we offer, instead, something sharper and more direct: Mary deadpanned, “And we both know you’re an expert.” The vision, the image, is much clearer in the second passage.

We don’t say, “He ran swiftly.” We say, “He sprinted.”
We don’t say, “She held him tightly.” We say, “She clenched him.”
We don’t say, “He looked at her angrily.” We say, “He glared at her.”

While this may seem like a minor thing, crafting one after another activated passage amid a 40,000 to 50,000-word story expedites your delivery, ensures that your voice is clear and concise, and enhances your overall style.

Instead of the lazy, muddled, inefficient, and amateurish adverb game…

Active it all!

Nelson

To learn more about Nelson, his romance Bee Balms & Burdundy or his virtual blog tour, check out his website.