Tag Archives: Writer

Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #2: It Ain’t Easy, Baby

You will not get published by accident.  You need to go to workshops, and send your stuff out.  No one will accidentally read your manuscript.

Now, I need to admit that I have a friend who posted an excerpt from her novel on her blog, and a publisher happened upon it.  He asked her to send him a full, and he eventually published her.

It does happen, but the chances are so slim I can’t think of a number that small.

There are people out there who walk around carrying “Writer’s Market” hoping someone will see them and say “are you a writer?”  Seriously… it’s not going to happen.

You need to submit.  Press that little submit button.  I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but it can be done.

Go ahead, stick those pages in that envelope.  Send your baby on its way.  It won’t get anywhere if you don’t let it leave home.

You need to decide if you are a recreational writer, or a professional writer.  Either one is fine, but professional writing is work.  You need to apply for jobs… no different here.

(Unless you go for self-publishing, but that’s another story completely)

Note:  The above are Jon Gibb’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.

Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books:  FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.

Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School.  Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.

Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com

Website: www.acatofninetales.com

For my present… I want you to write a story with me. Happy Blogiversary to me! Hop on board!

Are you ready to write a story together?  Let’s go!

Yay!  It’s my Blogiversary!  A year ago when I started this little writer’s haven for my monotonous mind, I had absolutely nothing to say.  My first post was “Okay, I have a blog.  So now, what”.  Very funny.

So, Let’s talk about my present.  Yes, I want a present.  Why not?  Don’t you give presents?  Hey, I deserve it.  I’m working hard here!

On March 17, when I hit 10,000 hits, I joked with Gloria Richard, who I met on this blog, that for my Blogiversary I wanted to double my hits.  At the time, achieving another 10,000 hits in four months seemed like a joke.  Ummm… not so much of a joke anymore.  I’m now over 28,000.  Thanks so much, guys.

So, since I don’t have to ask for 20,000 hits, this is what I want.  You’re a writer, right?  How about we write a little story together?

Sound like fun?

My Writing Bud Jenny Keller Ford did something similar to this recently, but I’m going to make it a little easier and less stressful.  (Because you won’t have to worry about someone posting before you finish what you’re working on.)

If you want to play, just click here.  Comment that you want to join, and include your email address (if you are worried about email grabbing software, type it in this format:  Jennifer-eaton (at) Comcast (dot) net.  We will be able to contact you , but the bots won’t get you.  If you are hopping on to this late, go ahead and add your name.  The more the merrier.

We will start off with an opening of about 250 words (about a page 12 point double spaced).  Then person #2 on the list will be up to bat.  They will add 250 or fewer words.

Notice I said “or fewer”  If you are tight on time, and you want to post 100, or even fifty, that’s fine… as long as you are pushing the story forward.  Likewise, if you need an extra ten words to finish your thought, that’s okay.  This is for fun, but don’t go crazy… give the next person a turn.

Once you are done, post your addition to your blog, and send me the link so I can include it in the page list.  Then don’t forget to tag the next person on the Comments List.

I will post the link to your site on Tuesdays, sending people to your own site to read your installment to the story.

Rules:

1.       CLICK HERE  to add your name to join the group.

2.       Post only after you have been tagged to make sure that the person before you has presented their installment.

3.       If you can, post your addition to the story on your blog within four days of being tagged.  If you do not send your installment to jennfer-eaton (at) Comcast (dot) net by Sunday 4:00PM EST there is a possibility that you post will not be scheduled on time for the Tuesday update.

4.       Send the link to your blog post to “Jennifer-eaton (at) comcast (dot) net”, and tag the next person.

5.       MAKE SURE YOU INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. SOME PEOPLE DON’T HAVE “CONTACT ME” OPTIONS ON THEIR WEB SITES. We need to be able to tag you to let you know you are  “up”.

6.       If you do not have a blog, or you don’t want to post your installment on your site, you can email your addition to me and I will post it here and add it to the story-roll.

7.       You may direct your readers to “Write a Story” for links to earlier installments, or to add their name to the comments list if they’d like to join.

8.       When we get to the end of the list, person #1 will be up to bat again.  We will keep going until we end the story, or interest wanes.

9.       If the muses aren’t poking you with their magic word wands, please pass to the next person in the list. We will come back to you when we start the cycle over.

10.   No cussing.

11.   I will post weekly (probably Tuesday) a link to your blog so people who are following the story can read the next installment.  If we end up ahead of ourselves (finishing early) the weekly post will appear behind to those contributing.  That’s okay.  It will make room for hiccups if someone does not submit on time.

12.   If you bow out, and others continue, you still agree to allow us to use your words and ideas in the project moving forward. Your name will be credited for the work you contributed.

13.   If interest wanes, and I need something to keep my creative juices flowing, I may finish it on my own… unless it is in a category I don’t enjoy.  Then I will let it die.

14.   Most importantly:  Have fun!  That’s what writing is all about.  If you can’t do it when your number comes up, no harm, no foul, just pass on to the next person.

Note:  If you finish in a day, please submit that same day and tag the next person.  This will keep the “weekly post” ahead of schedule in case we hit a bump, like someone getting sick, or on vacation, or forgetting to tag the next person.

#1:  Many writers want to try flash fiction, but don’t know how to start.  This will give you a prompt coming from someone else, and a pre-determined story to build on.  How great is that for flash fiction experience?

#2:  I originally thought of just posting the installments on jennifermeaton.com for people to read.  But if you post your work on your own blog, it will drive more traffic to your site, and also to your fellow authors and we have higher visibility to draw others in, which will make it more fun.

So, what are you waiting for?  Jump on the list and let’s have some fun!

Guest Post: Writing Inspiration and Creativity By Kristin Battestella

Writing is youth.  It isn’t outside the box.  Stop thinking about all that advice that says break the rules, twist the genre, create something no one has ever created before!  Get rid of all those ultimatums in your head and actually do it.  Open that Toy Box!

Writing in many ways is play-acting.  You are creating an imaginative world. Even if you describe a real world setting that you know intimately,  one must put a spin on the senses, invoke feelings, and let strangers reading your books know what it is like to be here or there ten, fifty, one hundred years from now.  How can you do that if you simply sit at your desk, K-cups, internet and all? Even when writing a completely serious decidedly non-childlike manuscript, you should behave in a child like manner during the initial writing composition.  Return to your youthful memories, sense of wonder, and life altering experiences to make your paper world come to life.

Does your character hate au gratin potatoes and fish sticks because you yourself had horrible experiences with gross cheese clumps and limp, pasty fish?  Write it down!  It’s not dumb.  Never think anything you write is too dumb.  So long as it says something important about the character’s mind and personality or motivations in your text, any quirk or mannerism that creates a fully developed person and reader embodiment is a good thing!

And speaking of embodiment, how can you expect readers to inhabit your work if you don’t do so yourself?  I’m not saying you have to kill someone for your horror or sleep with many people for your erotica, but finding ways to experience the times, places, thoughts, and feelings of your characters and manuscript environment should be paramount.  How do you know if your character hates corsets unless you try one on yourself?  Maybe she-or he!- actually finds them quite comfortable because you went to a fancy lingerie store and got fitted yourself.  And hey, check out those adult shops to spice up that erotica or use Weird NJ as your roadmap to creepy or notorious places.  And what do you do with all these newfound experiences of yours? Write them down!

It’s all fine and dandy to write with a quill on antique paper as your players may have done. Dress up like them before the pc, even!  Don’t scoff. Just ask yourself, ‘Why not?’ Try wearing a wig in your character’s style to the grocery store and see what happens.  Do your neighbors already think you’re a whirlwind of fun? Or will you surprise someone, maybe even yourself?

Use the physical freedoms and whimsy already about you to free your mind and imagination.  After a seemingly drastic character embodiment experiment, it becomes easier to find your story sources in everyday things.  Can you fit in your kitchen in a hoop skirt? Would your glamorous blonde ever do the laundry?  Open yourself to creative foreplay and experiences for a magical writing experience!

http://vampfam.blogspot.com/

     

“Your Mileage May Vary” Guest Post by Jennifer R. Hubbard

The other day, I made the mistake of reading a blog that tends to speak very authoritatively about what authors need to do to sustain a career. I don’t visit that blog often, because it makes me depressed and anxious. Occasionally, I’ve found useful industry information there, but more often I feel doomed, as if I’m “doing it wrong” and have no future. My writing style is not that author’s style. Our genres and audiences are different; our career goals are different. In fact, one piece of advice from that blog made me miserable when I tried it.

Most blogs about writing and publishing acknowledge that “YMMV” (“your mileage may vary”); I try to do that on my own blog. Whether the issue is how active to be online, how to obtain and use feedback, whether to get an agent, whether to self-publish, whether to use a pen name, or whether to outline, most questions don’t have one-size-fits-all answers. If I’ve learned anything from knowing other writers, it’s that there are many, many paths through this business. If there were only one path, one formula that worked for everyone, we’d all be using it and we’d all be rich.

But it’s so easy to get sucked in by authoritative advice, especially when the source is successful in his or her own right.

Of course, the solution to my own problem here is something I said earlier: “Our career goals are different.” Someone may press a map into my hand and urge me to follow the route marked on it. But if the destination is not where I want to go, why on earth would I follow that map? Even when the destination is also mine, I strongly suspect there are alternate routes.

So I really need to stay away from that particular blog. It doesn’t help me. I imagine it helps many other people, and that’s great. One reason I’m not naming the blog is that I don’t think other people necessarily need to stay away from it. Just me.

And in the spirit of this blog post, please feel free to disregard anything I’ve said that is not helpful to you. YMMV.

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Bio:

Jennifer R. Hubbard (www.jenniferhubbard.com) is the author of Try Not to Breathe (Viking, 2012), the story of a boy’s recovery from a suicide attempt, and The Secret Year (Viking, 2010), about the consequences of a secret relationship.

Stupid things your Beta Readers Find: Letting Your Villain Off The Hook Too Easily.

This is one of those “type things out to clear my head” posts.

I’ve written before that if one person makes a comment, consider it.  If two people make the same comment, seriously consider it.  If several more people make the same comment, revise.

I’m wavering on this one, though.

When I request beta reads, I ask for people to express the emotion they feel in each chapter.  A few people have said that my villain gets off the hook too easily.

Now, are they expressing an emotional response, or do they think that’s an error on my part?  That is what I am trying to figure out.  Even after questioning them, I am still not quite sure.

For one thing, they all would have squawked at my first seven or so drafts, where he completely got away with it.   I’m at least happy with my decision for him to get caught.

I can’t have him die a horrible death though, because then he can’t come back with a vengeance to really screw with Magellan’s head in another book.

I guess the visceral reaction of people is that if someone kills almost a hundred people with no remorse, he should get no less than that in the end.  The problem is that my villain is just too much fun.  Everyone has said that he makes their skin crawl, but they love it.  He is a great character, and I want him to come out and play again.

I think the problem might lie in the fact that you see him get caught, and you see the initial “punishment”, but you don’t get to see the aftermath… but if I do go and show the reader that aftermath, it will get red-lined because that is not intrinsic to the main-plotline for a POV character to be there to see it.

I don’t really have to show you the aftermath… I can show you the emotional response of the aftermath from another character’s POV.  I can intertwine that into the main plotline as the characters move into the final scene.

That’s it!  I got it!  I knew talking to you guys would help. You are all so smart!

Gotta go!  The idea is bursting out of my head, and I need to write it down before it disappears!

Confusing Me and I… Ahhh the never ending quandary of a writer

There was a great article on Dictionary.com this week about confusing “I” and “me”

Click over here if you’d like to take a look.   http://hotword.dictionary.com/youandme/

Misuse of these two words is really common.  I hear people do it all the time.  Even in my own house, which I try to keep as grammatically correct as possible.

The words “I” and “me” get my husband and me into a rumble once in a while.  He will correct one of my sons, and then I will correct him, because my son was right.  In our culture in the USA, there is so much “overcorrection” of the word “I” that it is starting to sound right when people use it incorrectly.

Let’s take the first sentence in the previous paragraph.  “The words get my husband and me into a rumble.”  It sounds wrong, doesn’t it?  I actually typed it incorrectly the first time (yeah, I am admitting it) because “I” just sounded right.  I then went back and corrected it.

How can you tell if you are wrong?  Take out the other person, and leave the sentence the same.  Let’s try it.

The words get my husband and me into a rumble

The words get me into a rumble.

The second sounds correct, so we did it right.  In this example, “My husband and me” is correct.  Now, let’s do it incorrectly

The words get my husband and I into a rumble.

The words get I into a rumble.

Oh!  That didn’t work too well, did it?  In this case “My Husband and I” is incorrect.  If you are ever unsure, just take out the second subject and see how it works out.

Need an example when “I” would be correct?  Well, ask and ye shall receive!

George and I should have dinner sometime

I should have dinner sometime

That sounds good.  Okay, how about “Me?”

George and me should have dinner sometime

Me should have dinner sometime.

Oh, Yuck!  That didn’t work at all.  So, in this example, “I” is correct.

The problem is, that “You and I” has been so OVER-CORRECTED, that the word “I” almost always sounds correct.  Even to me.  In the first example, I really wanted to write “My husband and I.”

This is a case of English being an evolving language.  As a writer, you need to make a choice to follow the natural progression of language, or to adhere to “correctness”.

Honestly, between us… your reader probably won’t even notice.

The questions is— which camp your editor/publisher is in?

Ahhh… the quandaries of a writer.

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Confessions of a Suddenly Smiling Stepper:What stupid writing thing did your Beta Reader find this week?

I have to reiterate that Beta Readers are just the greatest thing EVER.  Especially if you can find someone who is almost as anal as you are!

I just had a beta reader finish a 50-page excerpt.  She made some good comments, but the best thing she did was highlight every time I used the words “Step”, “Smile”, and “Suddenly”.

I read over her comments, and initially thought “it’s not that bad”.  Then, like a good little author, I closed it, took a deep breath, and came back to it another day.  What I did the second time, is used my favorite “Search and Replace Tip” to count how many times I used these words.

For those of you who have not read my previous article, here is the trick:

First ***SAVE YOUR DOCUMENT—JUST IN CASE***

Find the word you want to count.  Let’s use “suddenly”.  Open up the “Find/replace” feature in Word.  Search for “suddenly”, and replace with “suddenly”.  JUST MAKE SURE YOU TYPE IT EXACTLY THE SAME WAY so it replaces it with exactly the same word.  When you “Replace All” it will give you a count of how many times it replaced “suddenly”.  BOOM! You now know how many times you used your word.

I found that I used “suddenly” 13 times in 50 pages.  That means one of my characters “suddenly” did something every four pages or so.  I didn’t even realize it.  Absolutely unacceptable!  The funny thing is, I was able to delete almost every one with no other changes, and it was fine.  It was just an unnecessary word.

She is the second person to point out that my characters smile a lot.  So I did my little trick.  YIKES!  Someone smiled 30 times!  That’s once every page and a half!  I sure to have a lot of happy characters, although many were smiling while thinking mean thoughts.  Yes, I went thorough and made some changes.

Next check:  the word “stepped”.  Holy Cow!  In the 50 pages, it counted the word “step” 94 times.  That means someone “stepped” almost twice on every page.  I knew I had characters “stepping” but not quite that much!  Most of the time it is just to get movement into the story, so I need to work that out, and give them different things to do rather than walking around all over the place.

Confessions of a Suddenly Smiling Stepper… even when you know not to do stupid things, you may just read over it when it is your own story.

Beta Readers… they are worth their weight in gold.

If you don’t have a Beta Reader, go get one… but keep away from Ravena.

She’s MINE!  Mine, do you hear me?

***she cackles***

MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE!

I’ll set her free in 300 pages.

Thanks Ravena!

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