Friday, January 27, 2017

Writing and rewriting then repeat

There is a point when writing a manuscript where you may think-- It's as far as I can go. It's finished. I can't tell you how many times I've have said this to myself, but let's just say, it's a ton. Manuscripts will get to the point where you can't look at them anymore. You may want to vomit or you might want to scratch your eyes out because you have read the words over and over and over and over again. And you might be certain that every sentence has perfect grammar, the voice and arc can't be any different, and the plot is solid. This too happens to me. To date, I've written many things and, well, have finished four manuscripts. I say finished quietly because are they ever finished?

Maybe. I guess it just depends on who reads it. There are times we are told to finish a manuscript to the point where you can't polish it up anymore. If you are lucky enough to get a professional's interest at this point, then there may be more changes and edits because that individual may see it with a more expert eye. Since most things are subjective in this business, the individual may also have their own personal opinion of what they would like to see for the manuscript to sell.

For the writer to see it, we have to put it away and learn more. In other words, this is determined by our skill level. Once we learn more, the manuscript may change in our eyes. This may require the writer to put the manuscript aside for a while, which can be frustrating. Well for me it is. I'm a little impatient. I want to continue to work on it till it is in the best possible shape. It has taken me years to even remotely understand that it can't always be that way.

For example, there is a manuscript I'm revising right now that I wrote at least four years ago. When I first completed it, I revised and revised then I queried it. I had some interest so I thought it must be decent. The outcome of the query trip didn't end in anything so I put it away. Recently, I took it out again for my critique group to check it out. Great points have been made to strengthen it and I'm even excited to be going through it again. What amazes me is there has been discussion on possibly rewriting the first half of the book to concentrate on a different aspect of the plot. Crazy, right? The strange thing about it is I'm open to it. The new thoughts intrigue me to want to take this on. I'm just hoping it would make the book even better than what it is. So what changed? Maybe I've learned more, have grown more, or maybe I'm able to see that my original thoughts were not the strongest. That maybe this new path is even better than what I had originally intended. Although, rewriting isn't what I was planning to do right now since I'm trying to write another project I started two years ago. I have to figure out how to juggle the two or what to concentrate on. But that's another blog post.

This is what writing is about--writing then rewriting. Growing stronger as not only a writer, but as a visionary. Thoughts morph into other ideas that strengthen the original blip in our imagination. You write till you think you have it then dive back in to polish the edges. The cycle continues on and on.

It leaves the question--when is a manuscript actually done? I guess that is up to the creator. If you get attention then maybe that is the deciding factor. If it doesn't catch a professional's eye, then it's up to the writer to decide if they have it in them to change it or not. It goes back to the writer and what their vision was in the first place and if that vision has changed or if it should change.

What are your thoughts? When do you think a manuscript is actually done?

Have a great day!!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Writing on a budget

I will say, I'm no expert in any of this, but I do watch my wallet. I do not make money from any of my written works at this point so I can't claim it as a job--technically. I do take it very seriously and hope, one day, I just might get paid. But for now, I'm simply working for the dream. I'm trying my hardest to challenge myself and hone my skills to become a stronger writer. Let's face it between day jobs and daily life, time can be limited. Some of the options can get pricey and we all know money doesn't grow on trees.
However, there are many opportunities out there that will challenge you and give you some great experiences as well as taking your writing a step further.

Critique groups--There are online critique groups or groups that meet in person. One of the best ways to find one in your area is to check out the SCBWI (this is for kid lit) website (https://www.scbwi.org/) and look up your geographic area. It will have a link to critique groups. Make sure you contact the members and get to know them before committing. Sometimes sending a sample piece to each other helps to see if the group is right for you. If you write adult or romance or something else entirely, do a search in your browser for groups that would fit what you are interested in.

Online critiques-- Try some seasoned sites that offer critiques or agent feedback.
Miss Snark's First Victim has many opportunities to get feedback on your work. Some events do have a fee but not all of them. http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/

Dianne Salerni http://diannesalerni.com/blog/ , Marcy Hatch http://mainewords.blogspot.com/ and Krystalyn Drown http://krysteybelle.blogspot.com/ offer First Impressions. You send them 350-400 words of your first page and they will give you a critique.

Workshops/online classes--These are a great way to strengthen your skills.
Adventures in Publishing have a great workshop every month for free. It's a five page workshop. You receive feedback from (2) published authors and make (3) rounds of revisions, then you will receive feedback from an agent. Make sure you follow the rules. http://www.1st5pageswritingworkshop.com/p/workshop-rules.html

Margie Lawson has some great online and on site classes that won't break the bank. https://www.margielawson.com/

Conferences--Conferences can get pricey. I do try to get to one every few years, but they can cost $100.00 or more. Recently, a conference has resurfaced that I enjoyed years ago from the comfort of my own home. WriteOnCon is an online conference that offers live discussions, seminars, forums, Q & A sessions with authors, agents, editors and publishers. All of it from the most comfortable chair you own along with a cup of tea and chocolate at your side. There is a small fee (under $20.00), but worth it. http://writeoncon.org/

Contests--There are some sites that organize great contests and writing opportunities throughout the year. Many of these have awesome prizes in the end (pitch opportunities, requests from agents, etc.)
Twitter is one that has many. #PITMAD is where you post a pitch and agents get to chose if they want to read more. #Pitchwars is similar. There are others and they happen at different times of the year so keep a close eye on your trends box.

Sun vs. Snow is another contest that is going on right now. For free. Agents get involved in this one as well. http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2016/12/announcing-sun-versus-snow-2017.html  Michelle also organizes other contests throughout the year so check out her site.

Write Club is another contest that happens once a year. Another no cost to you. Your piece will go through many rounds of feedback. Authors and agents get in on the action. http://www.dlhammons.com/p/write-club-2016.html

Retreats--Retreats can be great, but can get pricey. One idea is to simply get out of your house and go to a park and free write. If you have the means to travel somewhere else, go for it. This can help you see things another way. Different scenery can spark something creative.

If you can or really want to splurge, Highlights foundation puts on unworkshop retreats. These are usually on a weekend and you can get it for $99. a night. That includes lodging and food. You can write without interruption in a beautiful setting. Now, if you are not local to it, it will cost more to get there so keep that in mind. I haven't gone yet, but hope to try it one day. I'm saving my pennies. ;) They also offer amazing workshops, but again, you need to save up for those. https://www.highlightsfoundation.org/

This is only the tip of the iceberg. If you search online, you will find many more. As with any of these, research and check all of the credentials.  Make sure they are legitimate. Read reviews of past participants if you can find them. Research the organizers as well. It doesn't hurt.

Also keep in mind, writing is subjective. Feedback can be hard to take so you must learn how to see what is constructive and what is opinion. You know what is right for your story.

Does anyone have any other links to share? I'm sorry if I forgot any.

Have a great day!











Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Traveling the seas of publishing


For many of us writers becoming published is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The big catch. The prize is shiny and can be distracting. Once we start, it's not easy to understand the massive seas ahead. I have to say, it is one business not like any other.

Even though I've been writing casually for about 20 years, it wasn't until 7 years ago that I decided I wanted to take my writing one step further. I didn't know much in the beginning, but once on board, some holes poked through. And even today, I'm no expert.

There are things I see now that I never expected before. In fact, I was sort of shocked to hear about them. This most likely goes for all of the professional arts. If you're the creator, there is a sea of opportunity, but you never know what is under it or when a storm will brew. It's the unpredictable nature of it that can scare the pants off you.

Many of the stories we see are successes, which are awesome and those folks should be applauded. Once you're in the open ocean, you know how hard this is to come by. Writing the book is hard enough, but prepping a query and synopsis is like pouring salt into a wound. Once these are to your liking you send it out to agents if that is your path. There are other channels to go into if you chose, but the prep is pretty much the same. Other boats may forge ahead of you and that's okay. It's not easy to watch, but the respect is all the same.

The waiting is difficult. Let's face it, if you are shipwrecked, you are waiting for a sign of rescue. You have sent the message, but the bottle hasn't return. You can check the waves every minute, but it won't help. You need to distract yourself. Get off the usual routine (if you're not really stranded on a beautiful oasis, that means get off social media). Open your eyes and take a walk or visit somewhere new. Take in your surroundings and give your brain the chance to recharge. Don't allow the boat that passed you at the start hold you back. They may have hit a storm as well. Keep going forward and write something new or do something different like weaving palms to build yourself a house.

There will be many false hopes (rejections are never fun), but sometimes there will be a ray of sun through the clouds that may lead to something even better. It may be the lifeboat you are looking for or it may be a glimmer of what is to come. The request may not end up the way you hope, but it may be a sign to show you how far you have come and that something better is on it's way. It could be a cramped wooden fishing boat that will get the help you need to get off the island.

The point is--Publishing is only a small part in your journey to thrive. It is never the same for everyone. There is no right path. In today's world, there are so many different opportunities and avenues to take. You have to decide which one to pursue and even then the first one you think is right may not be for you. The thing is you must try and not ignore the other opportunities. Keep writing, and write for you. Grow and learn. Challenge yourself. Rejection is not failure. That is the hardest lesson to learn. We sometimes seek this acceptance by publishing approval. Writing is subjective. What you can't sell now, may sell in a few years from now. So, be you and write your heart out.

Happy New Year! Has it really been this long. One of my many goals this year is to blog a little more. Hopefully I'll do better, I've been a bad girl at that. I'm also going to focus more on my writing and challenge myself. My many years of rejection have set my path off track. It happens. It can happen a lot more than you like, but learning and growing from it is another focus for me in the year to come.

What is your biggest challenge in your writing journey?

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Playlists, pictures and writing

Whoa! It's been a while. As usual, life has taken over my summer. I finished a manuscript and needed a mental health break. A story can take you over and suck the life out of you. I'm trying to start something new and rework a fantasy I started over a year ago. Writing is funny like that. Inspiration can take hold of you and a squeeze you dry. It's a strange feeling when creativity takes a back seat. The whole rollercoaster ride on the tracks of writing. I'm a visual writer. I see a lot of the story in my head so I need to find things to ignite an idea.

I have one idea that's been in my head for a year. The problem is the character isn't really talking, only showing me snippets. It can be frustrating, but I write down what this shy lady is showing me. What has been a wonderful help is music. It amazes me how a certain song will spark the mood, voice, and scenes of a story. For me this is key. It gets me excited about an idea. I will play an inspiration song over and over till I get something. It's funny how it can just click. I will go into a distant stare and let the vision take over. Don't do this while driving though.

Anyway, this idea is starting to take shape, which is a good thing. I currently make playlists on Spotify. I can label which book they are for and add songs to each. I have made playlists for every book I've written. It's crucial for my process.

Another thing that's good to do is make a visual chart. Pictures can help you visualize your characters, scenery, even clothing. Pinterest is my go to for this. I have a board for each book and put inspiration photos under those headings. You can also use Scrivner for this.

Getting outside is another help. Even visiting a new place helps. It opens your eyes to the world and people. I tend to observe more than I interact. It helps when writing your characters.

Well, there you have some tips on reigniting your muse. I'm sure I've written about this before, but it always helps to be reminded.

Any tips you have to make an idea pop?

Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Working through the kinks.

Writing is one of those things where words can be flying onto the page one minute and turn bone dry the next. I've been working on a manuscript for about a year. The first draft mind you. I'm not super proud of that time line but it's something I'm trying to figure out. I was super passionate about the project when I started. I did get feed back early on, which may have slowed my process and hindered the flow. I put it aside for many months, hoping that I would get those fuzzy feels for it again. It took a while and now there are some tingles in my belly for it. I am struggling though. I think I'm overthinking things as I always do.

It's the first draft fright. I'm a reviser. It's what I like to do. First drafts scare me. It could be the perfectionist in me, but I like revising. First drafts are messy and disorganized. You would think I would be an outliner, but no, total panster. This might make you think I would love first drafts. I don't. So how do you survive them? I don't think there is a straight answer. This is my fifth novel and I still squirm when I open a blank page. I listen to the voice and plug along, but then that scene comes where you have no idea how to connect it to the ending. Did I mention I write out of order? Yep, guilty.

Right now, I'm at that point. I have 43,000 words. The beginning, most of the middle, and the end are written. I just have to connect (think big climax) the middle to the end. I know what has to happen, it's just getting something down so I can read through and fill in and polish. My brain is having a hard time with it. My solution is to keep going. Even if I develop a twitch in the corner of my left eye, I have to accept that I can write the word "transition" or "needs something here" and continue on. It's okay to do this.

Working through a first draft, for me, can be tedious. The thing is-- we all have our own process. As we hone our skills and write our babies, we figure out what works best for us. It's getting over fears or at least calming them down, taking a breath, and jumping in. So here I go. I'm off to write a big battle scene.

How do you get through your first draft?

Have a great day!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year!

Well, it's a new year. I have to say, I'm in good spirits. I think I'm at a point where I'm settled with my writing and with my life. It's always a juggle but I've come to a point of accepting things and dealing with them.

Writing seems to have taken on new meaning for me. It's about strengthening. That's my focus. My focus is not on validation or racing to publishing. It's about honing those skills. So this year is all about becoming a better writer. I have plenty of material to work on so whipping them into better shape is what I'm going to do.

What I'm going to do with this blog, I'm not sure. I've focused on many things from teaching what I learned to promoting others to life and feelings of a struggling writer. I'm not sure what to put on here. For a while, I felt as if I was repeating myself. I did enjoy the community I once belonged but many of them have left or are busy. So what to do next? Not sure. I don't call myself an expert and I still need to own the title as writer. It's something I struggle to call myself. It's a lack of confidence/imposter feeling. I don't even know when one can call themselves an author.

So here are a couple of questions for you.

1. What are your goals for this year?

2. What is the blog world missing? What would you like to see?

3. In your eyes, what is the difference between an author and a writer? To me it's if you are published or not, but I could be wrong in that line of thinking.

I'm hoping to start doing something here again, I'm just not sure what yet.

Happy New Year!

Have a great day!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Swallowing the bitter pill of querying

Whoa. Yep. I'm still alive. I have to say things are coming into view. I'm not sure how much that makes sense. Maybe I'm maturing (who would've thought). I see things differently now. Some things are less significant while others take priority. Still not understanding?

When I started my path to publication, I was wide eyed and believe it or not, optimistic. Well, as optimistic as a pessimist could get. I wanted to belong and be respected. I blogged and felt like part of a community. It supported me and I felt as if I belonged. I gather with locals and engaged in writerly conversations. Deep down, I wasn't sure if I was this writer everyone kept saying I was. I went through the motions, writing and revising, critiquing and being critiqued. All because I wanted to be published. I wanted my book in print. I knew it would take long. "At least ten years," many would say. I guess my na├»ve nature was like a mask. It only pulled over a false sense of belonging. I heard stories both good and bad about the whole industry. I researched the business and followed the trends to know what was out there. I scrolled on Twitter more than I like to say, which bombarded me with more information than I wanted to know. I never said I was an expert at anything and maybe that was my problem. I always felt below. I wrote four books in four years (not that any of them are good). I pushed myself and broke down a lot. I fought depression regularly, which held me back. And I posted it about it on my blog more times than I like to admit. Yes, embarrassing. I took things to heart and felt deep guilt that I wasn't cleaning a room or that I was taking time away from my kids to write. But I wanted to query.

So I did. To date I've queried three times (3 books). Over 150 rejections. I did have a few partials and fulls, but so far nothing. Now, I know my story is not one of woe. Many have had worse. I know, because I hear the tales. I hear how horrible it can get. What I want to stress is to not let it get to you. Easy for me to say, right? Not so much. Querying has crumbled me. I'm a person who needs validation. I thought I could get it through querying. That I could actually get something that would say that I was a good writer. I relied on the professionals to determine if I was worthy or not.

Since I wasn't getting anything other than--"it's not right for me" or "it's not sellable," I began to wonder what was wrong with me. Do I suck that badly that they can't even tell me? It's a blow that for those with weak confidence, can throw you so far into a hole, climbing out of it doesn't seem worth it. Let's face it, in my mind, I'm only going to continue to get rejected. The thing is my story isn't that sad. I do have a couple of poems published and my crit group can't be more supportive. They are awesome! It's me. It's something that I have to over come to get through it. Querying can leave a bitter taste in you mouth. One that you don't want to taste again because it has made you sick over and over. But it's one you have to overcome to continue.

It made me not want to write for a while. I'd open up documents and shut them. Like I was mad at them for not being good enough. The problem is I love those stories. I needed to believe in them. I needed to get better. I've distanced myself from many things that I used to enjoy in the writer community. I think I needed to reconnect with why I love writing in the first place. It's the story, the character, the idea of traveling somewhere that may or may not exist. I must swallow that bitter pill and get over what querying can do. Fill it with sweet candy (preferably chocolate) and immerse myself back into the worlds I love. Look at querying as just a stage. If they don't like it, they don't know what they're missing.

Have a great day!!