Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Author Resources

Yep, here's another website cram packed with them.  They say there's a 100 Author Resources here.  I didn't count them myself, but I believe them and no doubt you'll find a number of things here helpful to you and your writing. Marketing, self-publishing, selling, grammar support, free word processors and writer's software.  Lots to see here.  Dive in.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adventures in Writers Rejections

Adventure?! You say, almost shriek at me.  Where's the adventure?  It's frustrating, depressing, demoralizing.  

Rejection isn't anything but bad, bad, bad.

Well hold on there a minute, partner, I respond.  I disagree and I've been published and rejected many times so I do have a platform from which to spout forth my opinions.

You just have to look at it the right way. It's hard to swallow at times, the feedback you might get from a publisher, editor, agent...and remember, Editors are busy people and most of the time don't send any real response so if one of them did it could be because they see potential in your work, or because you're so out in left field they're trying to help you fix your mistakes. Either way, they're trying to be helpful. Stop a moment and appreciate that. Learn from it.

For example, if you do your homework before submitting you'll avoid such form letters  as, "too short", "too long", "we don't accept unagented material", "we don't accept simultaneous submissions", "this is outside our genre". I mean why waste your time and theirs by not following the instructions they provide for authors?

You can prevent a response such as "numerous grammatical errors" by proofing your work thoroughly or hiring someone to do it for you. If you're going to do it yourself you better find some online grammar help or take a few courses to polish up your skills. This isn't like the 'old days' when some famous author or another tossed a haphazard heap of paper on an editors desk and strolled off leaving them to fix all spelling, grammatical, etc. errors (if that ever even really happened at all). That's your job.  Do it and do it well.

If you get a response from an agent such as "we aren't accepting new clients at this time," it could mean a lot of things.  The agency could be overwhelmed with clients.  It might be restructuring, deciding anew on what genres to represent or even about to go bankrupt and fold (I was repped by an agency that went belly-up many years ago and it wasn't fun).  This kind of response doesn't mean much, especially about the quality of your work, just move on and try another agency.

A response such as "This type of story has been done to death," doesn't mean that particular publisher has done it to death, but rather they perceive the market to be saturated. Not much you can do about this but go back in and rewrite; find a new angle to your story; make it fresh.  Yes, you can do another vampire book, but find a whole new way to do it. Get away from the 'same 'ol, same 'ol'.

If you're a blogger or you tweet about your writing or anything else that gets you out there and builds you a following you'll impress a publisher or agent, especially if you're doing it well.  There are lots of small publishers out there who can't afford to promote new authors, so if you do the promotion, let them know in your query letter that you're set up and ready to move should they chose to publish your book. If your writing is good to begin with, this could be the nudge that moves your book to 'sold.'

Remember these days too, self publishing is an option.  It's still frowned on by traditional publishers, but little by little it's expanding, especially on the Ebook front. It may not be for you at all, but it's worth giving some thought to. But remember, should you chose this route, it doesn't excuse you from good grammar, good spelling and good writing. If you don't put out a good book people aren't going to come back. And a truly bad (in the sense of loaded with typos, misspellings, punctuation and grammar errors) will make your name stick in people's minds for all the wrong reasons. 

Whether submitting to publisher or agent or considering self publishing, a well-written, well edited piece of work is a must. No short-cuts. 

Now get out there and remember to enjoy the adventure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - Search Engines for Writers

Here's a site for the writer wrapped up in research - of all kinds. It offers 60 great sites where you can find out almost anything.  Writers professional sites, research sites, reference sites, stuff for niche writers, books and more. Don't miss this one.  check it out.  I know there'll be more than one site you'll be glad you found. 

And as a side note, my book Cloud Dancer is available at 50% at Smashwords at - use Coupon Code TX72S at check out for special price of $2.98 through March 28 along with half off my book, Stormrider, also at Smashwords at - use coupon code SL67D at check out.  Special for my friends reading this post here. Ebooks here are available in various formats including Kindle, PDF, Mobi, EPUB, RTF and more.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Writing, The Writer And The Block

Writer's Block. Hmmmmmm.

We all seem to get it sooner or later, even the ones who initially denounce the whole idea as ridiculous.

And there are all  manner and size of writer's blocks.  Some are huge and very difficult to overcome while others are more of a passing thing that will just go their own way after a bit.

And they can strike the writer at any time, when expected when coping with some difficult twist of life and unexpectedly when it strikes out of the blue when the writer is moving forward under a full head of steam, writing incredibly well - and suddenly it all stops.

What the heck is this?  Why? What is it that triggers writer's block? I mean it's kind of easy to figure out when it's obvious; your mother's very ill and suddenly the search for the perfect word becomes interminable, the horrible suspicious that what we've written is awful surges. That we  can recognize by the feelings of frustration, anger, weird food cravings (mostly sugar), anxiety. But what about when the writing is flowing like a crystal creek, crisp and clear and inviting - then suddenly, nothing?

Well, have you ever considered we have boundaries, us writers?  It's funny how we crave success and fear it at the same time.  How we love what we do and somehow, at some times fear it.  Some psychologists say we have inner limits on how happy we allow ourselves to be. On how much success we think we are entitled to.

When things are going superbly well and we feel nearly euphoric (oh heck, not nearly, positively euphoric), when things are going our way completely, it may well trigger the need to feel more like ourselves.  You know, a little less good. A little more down to earth, or possibly a full-fledged crash back to 'reality'. 

Now I don't want to go the route of a 'shrink' because I'm certainly not one, but I have been a writer for many years and have experienced that feeling of exhilaration when my writing flows fabulously to the point where I nearly don't know what to do with it.  At that point it's almost like a shut down switch has been hit and suddenly all I can think about is: did I turn the stove off in the kitchen? Is my husband, on the road for business, all right? The little rescue dog with the heart problem is not visible - did he have an attack without me knowing?  Or any other scenario that damps down the mood and brings the happy train to a stop.

So, if you find yourself in that dark place on the roller coaster ride of creativity and you find yourself busily telling yourself how bad your writing actually is and how you'll never get published and how you can't write your way through all those chapters before you, then try a couple of things I've found have worked for me over the years.

1.  Get yourself moving.  Get your body moving.  Get outside and take a short, brisk walk.  If you can't do that, do a few sit-ups or run in place or run up and down the stairs or invest in a treadmill and have that near your work space. 

Or put on some bouncy music and dance for a few minutes. Just one or two cuts from your CD should do it. Dance like nobody's watching - because you're alone and they aren't.

Or do something around the house briefly.  Your dog will love you for a tummy rub session. Your plants could use some water.  Maybe start dinner in a slow cooker so you can throw it all together & walk away.

You might run out to the store and buy something like the ink your printer is about to run out of, or heck that nice new printer you've been eying but putting off.

2.  Shake up your mind a bit.  Acknowledge all those fearful feelings and the anxiety that your surge of creativity  has triggered. It's not like acknowledging them will make them permanent.  In fact it will help you conquer them.

Then face your computer screen and write down your thoughts  and your feelings.  See if you can identify where that voice is coming from that's taking you down. Who's voice is demanding conformity, trying to convince you you can't do what you set out to accomplish? Flush your brain.

And here's one I love.  When my mother was dying a psychologist friend of mine suggested I go into an inside room of the house, windows closed (making sure the neighbors couldn't hear me and think there was a bloody murder being committed at my house) and scream. Throw your arms wide and just let go. Primal scream or encouraging, confirming words you yell at yourself, your choice. It's exhausting and cleansing.

You are a writer.  You deserve to feel joy in your accomplishments and the act of creating. Writer's block cannot last if you make the efforts to break through and don't bury yourself in cookies and potato chips. Acknowledge your self-imposed limits, then expand your boundaries and let yourself fly.

That 10 - 15 minute break could well be all you need to be back at work in front of your computer and ramping up to fabulous again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Writers Websites Wednesday - A Publisher's Views On The Future of Print

This week I visited Joe Wikert's Publishing 2020 Blog. It was an eye-opening visit.  You might think of surfing over as well.  Joe Wikert shares his views on the future of print, online and other media. It's worth the trip.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Writer Terrors

Writers are a unique lot, and each one different from another.  I was reading a post at LinkedIn this morning where writers were discussing what the dominant personality of a writer is.  The discussion rambled off in several directions coming up with all sorts of answers which, of course, pinpoints the problem in defining authors/writers. There is something a little bit different about us, it's true, but exactly what IS it? 


Here's the thing.  On the page we can be quite firm, even downright aggressive, but in person it's a different matter.  While a writer might do wonderfully one-on-one, a real chatterbox, many times in a crowd that fizzles fast. Withdrawn comes to mind.

Writers are often tapped to give talks or perhaps lead a workshop or read from their work.  Well, for the introverted writer, and that seems to be the dominant paradigm, that can most definitely lead to nervousness or the possibility of a outright  nervous breakdown. The writer does war with the fact that he or she really doesn't want to do any public appearances at all, and yet the publisher wants those appearances to happen or the writer simply realizes that in order to publicize a book and get readers, promotion, which means public appearances, is a must.

So, today, I want to give some friendly advice to those introverted, nervous-breakdown-prone brother and sister writers out there.  If you're sitting in a chair, chewing your nails, sweating and feeling like your heart is pounding against your ribs and you desperately want a drink of water, but are afraid to have it because you just know you'll need the bathroom about the time you step in front of all those people, waiting to give a talk or lead that workshop, or give that reading, (whew that was a mouthful) here's a thought. 

What do you think is going to happen?  I mean seriously, what do you expect to happen?

These are people interested in what you have to say, there is no right or wrong. They wouldn't be here if they weren't interested. Do you really think one or more of them is suddenly going to be possessed by the 'exorcist', have his head spin around and spout fire from eyes nose & mouth? And you can always use the ancient trick of thinking of them as naked. Head-spinning, fire-spouting naked, so they're no threat.

Godzilla isn't going to bound through the door and squish you to paste on the stage either. King Kong isn't going to break his restraints and come charging through your hall. You aren't going to die. Barring natural disaster such as earthquake, volcano or flood you're going to be fine. Right?

So, it's all good, right?

You can actually take a breath and do what you need to do, make that public appearance. And you know what?  You can, in fact, have fun with it. I'm not saying you're GOING TO, I said you CAN.  And it may take several appearance for you to sort it all out, relax enough and enjoy yourself.

Engage the people in your audience and you'll end up having fun - or at the very least feeling more composed and less shaky. So here's how to get started.

Be honest with your audience when you first arrive. Tell them you're nervous to the point of sweating through your clothes.  Most people shy away from public speaking - they'll understand and be even more empathetic.  

Ask them to shout out if  you're muttering a bit and ask you to speak up. You might offer a short Q & A segment the beginning of your talk, in addition to one at the end. Relate to your audience as new friends and speaking will not only get easier, but might turn into something you enjoy.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Writers Sites Wednesday - 5 Open Source Apps For Writers

The title says it all.  Here's a site cluing us in to 5 Open Source Apps for Writers and Authors.  Check it out, hard-working shoe-string authors - there might be one here to give you a hand.  And check the comments below the Apps where folks offer info  on even more that are available.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Contemplating Writers' Truths - all 9 of them

I was ruminating this week about inspiration and what it takes to get it together to write a story, a novel, short story, whatever.  What is it that gets us going, keeps the juices flowing and inspires us to keep going until it's done?

So I thought about it, asked some friends, and here are a few of the things we came up with.

1.  Inspiration?  Take a long hot shower or a good soak in the bath.  The subconscious is your friend and the muse can't be wrestled to the ground.  Even washing dishes or driving around can open the gate to inspiration.  Do something that lets you relax and unfocus from your primary job of writing.  Breathe.  Allow inspiration in.

2.  Keep a notebook handy.  Really, not just an iPhone or some such that you can talk into though of course that might be good.  But a real notebook.  Something you actually have to physically write in.  It helps solidify ideas and lets others begin to flourish.  Really, trust me.  Good idea. You might be amazed to see where those randomly written down thoughts take you later.

3.  One friend advised, be weird, allow your strangeness to come through.  Your friends and family probably already think you are that just because you're a writer. So ask the big, complicated questions Muse on and embrace all that makes you different.

4.  Here's another one - drive your main character crazy.  Whether it's a he or a she, a romance, a mystery or science fiction.  Give your hero lots and lots of obstacles and a killer of a past. The more frustrated and harassed your hero, the more conflict, the more conflict the more engrossing the story.  Go for it.

5.  Read. A lot. Everything.

6.  Read your own work aloud and listen for the rhythm.  Your ear will pick up something that clanks.

7.  Develop your vocabulary.  No, larger words aren't necessarily better, but words that tell your story the right way are. Follow Hemingway's example.  Keep it simple, but make it right.

8. Keep it short.  If it's already written, shorten it some more.  Refer to number 7 above.

9.  Listen. Everywhere.  All the time.  Want crisp, on the nose dialog?  Then listen to people talk.  Become a practiced eavesdropper.  Develop your listening skills and fine-tune the way your characters talk: their accents, their words, their cadence. 

So we came up with 9 simple truths to help writers out. I know, I know, there are no doubt many more, but I hope among these you'll find a bit of truth to keep your writing going and improve upon it. 

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