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Posts tagged “Writer Resources

The Only Thing That Can Make You A Writer …

Really, in the end, the only thing that can make you a writer is the person that you are, the intensity of your feeling, the honesty of your vision, the unsentimental acknowledgment of the endless interest of the life around and within you. Virtually nobody can help you deliberately — many people will help you unintentionally.

Santha Rama Rau

*Originally posted October, 2012


Still Aspiring?

Aspire: to long, aim, or seek for.

Aspire is one of those words with an embedded escape clause.

“If I really suck at this, or if I just give up, it won’t matter because I’m only aspiring.”

GHAACK!

Do you love to write? Does it speak to you?

Then WRITE.

Aspiring isn’t goal setting. It’s an escape hatch. It is scribble, scribble, blah, blah … What was I talking about?

If you want to write then write. If you want to become an author work your ass off at it. It’s hard and it will make you want to scream one second and cry the next. But writers write. It’s what we do. Don’t be afraid to put a label on it.

~ Author Unknown

~ Author Unknown


It Is Impossible To Live Without Failing …

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

~j.K. Rowling


Writers Who Are Readers and Readers Who Are Writers

Which one are you?

I’m the latter. Definitely.

Although I’ve always written, my love of the written word began before my sentence structure did. My imagination of worlds far and beyond sparked at a very young age. Writing the stories I imagined in my own head, came later.

Books

Books (Photo credit: henry…)

I realized recently, after having a conversation with a fellow writer, just how different the above breeds of writers can be. When I began my novel and truly delved into learning craft, I found reading for my usual enjoyment difficult, and suddenly lacking. Instead of the story I saw sentence structure, grammar use. I would hear myself questioning the decisions the author made and wondering what I would have done differently. I couldn’t see the stories anymore. I’d lost the magical quality that had originally turned me on to writing. I’d lost what I craved most. The story.

Writers who are readers pick stories apart. Readers who are writers, read. For the sheer enjoyment of it. To be transported. To live in someone else’s shoes.

I learned that when you are only looking for errors, they are all you will ever see. And when you are editing your book as a writer, they are all you should see. But when all of that is done–you should see your story.

Now, I have to shut off the writer brain (as hard as that is sometimes) and turn on the reader one. If I don’t, I find myself reading as I would a text book. But if I do… I remember why I love to read. Why I love to write, too. I have worlds I want to share. Characters and  plots. I have to stories to share. That’s the aim, right? To share good stories? And at the end of the day, after all the edits are done and proofreads have been finished, I want to be able to read my book through the eyes of a reader. If I can’t do that — if I can’t still feel the emotion that sat me in front of the laptop for months on end — if I can’t see and feel what I need the reader to see and feel — well, what exactly have I been doing? Remember that readers read because they want to be carried away. You need to see your book not only through your eyes as a writer, but more importantly, through the eyes of your readers. They are the ones who matter. They are the ones who will make or break you as an author. Every single time. And readers, the vast majority of them, are story cravers, not editors, not writers, just readers.

Write the best book you can. Get the best editor you can. Nit pick the crap out every tiny detail in your novel. Then go back and read it. And remember why you wrote it in the first place. The best grammar in the world will not save a crappy story. But…an awesome story will trump a few overlooked grammatical errors. Check out some book on the best sellers list. Readers aren’t looking for perfect. They aren’t looking for the same things writers are. They’re looking for that one story that digs into their soul. The one story they can’t stop thinking about. The one they read over and over again. That’s the book we as writers should be writing.

WRITE ON, WRITERS! And tell your stories.


The Publishing Roller Coaster

A few days ago I received an email. A request for my manuscript in full to be sent to a publishing house I queried. And then I received another one.

YES!

Am I thrilled? Absolutely.

Do I feel terrified and on the verge of throwing up? Definitely.

I remember the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I completed TIED. Edits, beta readers, and all. It was as if a weight lifted off my shoulders. For about an hour. Maybe.

A few weeks later, I queried my first publisher with shaking hands, and terror replaced accomplishment. Still, I sent it anyway. I had to. All of us writers have to. This whole process is well…part of the process. I think we need to go through it. It makes us a little stronger.

Now, after sending off my baby that I’ve loved and coddled for two years, I have a different sense of accomplishment. One that is mixed with the discomfort of judgement. The word all writers hate. But you know what? It’s a great feeling. It is. Because whether or not they decide to take my book on, they believed enough — and saw enough — to give it further than a glance. And although this could be the only elation I feel in a long run of disappointments — I plan to appreciate it for what it is — THE BEST FEELING I’ve had since I jumped on this roller coaster ride of writing.

I love what I do. And I’m thankful to be doing it. Even more thankful, too, that my betas also love my stories and I’ve been given a small pat on the back by yet another interested party. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. Wish me luck. 😉


Half In Love…

I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down. That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.

~J.D. Salinger  –The Catcher in the Rye

A friend reminded me of Salinger today — I had to share one of my favorite excerpts.

The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s Never Too Late…

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

~ George Eliot

Eliot

Eliot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English novelist Mary Anne Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot.


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


Sometimes You Need To Scrap It. That’s Okay.

I scratched my cornea two days ago. Forgive any typos as I’m writing this with one eye.

As I am rounding out the last of my revisions and running to the final edits stretch of my novel, I’ve hit a speed bump. I have to cut three chapters. Ghaack! It’s about…7700 words. NOT that I’m a word counter. You can read why if you’d like here: Word Count Goals And The Pathway To Hell

But that’s another subject… When you’re a pantster, like I am, and when you write as slow as a turtle, like I do, you may find that what worked a few drafts ago simply doesn’t work in the final draft. That’s okay. Sometimes scenes no longer fit.

Yes, it creates headaches. But I am a firm believer that cutting makes your work stronger. It makes you look deeper, think harder, and search farther outside the box, which in fantasy, is very important. (Yeah, I write fantasy.)

As I’ve said before, if something doesn’t feel write, it’s because it isn’t. Follow your instincts, listen to your gut, and cut the scene (or at least rewrite it).


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


A Week in Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Author Anne R. Allen has a great post up on her blog this week, When Should An Author Hire An Editor?

Author Kristen Lamb is continuing her blog series, Don’t Eat The Butt. Her 4th post in the series, Real Writers Never Struggle

Author Janni Lee Simmer has a post up on her blog, Desert Dispatches. On Publishing and being a writer in the Right Now

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. This week, the focus of conversation has moved back to where it should be: Craft. The actual craft of writing. At the end of the day, we need well written, engaging stories. All the social media in the world won’t save us from ill crafted books.


First up, J.A. Konrath. His post, Writing Matters, is up on his blog, A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing Check it out.

Also on the must read list this week, Bob MayerHis post, THE Secret Handshake of Successful Digital Publishing, is on his blog, WRITE IT FORWARD

And last up today, Chuck Wendig25 Things You Should Know About Word Choice, on his blog, Terrible Minds

WRITE ON, WRITERS. WRITE ON.


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Publishing is the topic of conversation this week. Here are the must reads:

J.A. Konrath has an insightful MUST READ post up on his blog, A Newbies Guide To Self-Publishing. His post:  Amazon Will Destroy You

Kristen Lamb’s post over on her blog, Warrior Writers, talks about The Future of Big Publishing in the New Paradigm–Bracing For Impact

And how could I leave out Chuck Wendig? Check out his take on whether or not FREE is truly FREE in the world of E-books. Is Free A Price We Can Pay? On his blog, Terrible Minds. And be sure to read the plethora of comments that follow.

Good Day Writers 😉


So…You’re a Writer??

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: secretagent007)

“So, you’re a writer?” An old friend of mine asked me this question recently. My immediate and unthinking response was, “Unpublished.” I said it like it was some sort of apology. To whom I was apologizing, I will never know. Maybe myself.

What on earth possess’ writers to say that?

Scrutiny.

There is no need to justify the reason we write. Yet, somehow we feel compelled to do so.

So we explain, or try to explain, what we are writing, what our plans are. Or we simply don’t discuss it all. We keep it to ourselves, hidden from our family and our peers. It’s much easier that way–if we fail, no one will ever know.

I’ve seen the sideways glance, the cinched eyebrows, looks of confusion, the blank stare. Get enough of those looks and it will either drive you to push harder, and PROVE THEM WRONG–or it will drive you to shut your mouth.

First, don’t push harder to prove someone wrong. If people aren’t supportive, it’s their issue, not yours. Push harder because YOU are working toward your goals. Second, writers don’t shut their mouths. The inner workings of our minds are constantly talking, constantly creating, and constantly thinking. Don’t hide what makes you different–bask in it.

If we don’t see ourselves as writers–no one will. We have to take ourselves seriously if we expect anyone else to. And part of that is working on our craft. Everyday. The other part– acknowledging not only to yourself, but to everyone else, that yes, you are a writer.

You chose this path. It’s time to walk it.


What’s in a Beta Reader?

Everything.

Writing

It took about four months before I mustered up the courage to let anyone read the first chapters of my current novel. That was back in August of 2010. I’d been writing since April of that year, and my book was nowhere–and I mean nowhere–near ready for viewing. Even if that viewer was my mom. Now, I realize that everyone says they let their mom read their book first because, of course, our mothers will go easy on us if it sucks. Not my mom. I’m not saying she flat-out told me it was awful, but she didn’t tell me what I was hoping to hear either.

I wanted my mom to read it first because I needed real feedback from an avid reader. My mom also happens to do a lot of editing. The first reviews weren’t good. Looking back, she was 100% correct. The book was a fledgling written by a poet and short story dabbler, not a seasoned novelist.

I tucked my tail between my legs, swallowed my pride, and listened to everything she had to say. And then I used it all. I studied and researched and let the ideas in my head germinate and flow.  I wrote and I wrote until I was sick of it. Until I almost gave up.

It has been a year and a half since that time and my novel has gone through at least eight drafts. Easily. After I’d tweaked, edited, hated it, and loved it, I put it back in my moms possession. And cringed a little.

I have three beta readers now, all doing slightly different things, all slightly different viewpoints, coming from different genre preferences and widely different age groups. I think the wide scope is necessary for a real perspective. I was terrified to let my words, my characters–my world, go. Everything in those pages is me. Everything in all our books as writers, is us. Our imagination, our thoughts—our creation. What if my betas hated my story? What would that say about me? I let it go, despite my trepidation, and faced the fear.

If they did hate the story, if my characters were whack and my voice was worse–I kind of needed to know.

What’s in a Beta Reader? If you’re lucky, a trusted reader who will give it to you straight.

I waited a long time after the initial beta read back in 2010 to release my chapters again. I was afraid to hear the critiques–to hear I wasn’t any good after close to two years of sweat and tears. But how would I ever know, if I was too afraid to let go? And if I was awful at writing novels, well…there was only one way to change that— keep writing, keep learning, and keep putting myself out there.

What’s in a Beta Reader? Your audience. Who without, you have no readership. So ask yourself, who are you writing for? I can say with all my heart, I write for myself. But when you decide to go live, and publish your work, that changes a bit. I write because I love it. And somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to do more than write stories to myself. So, I would be lying through my teeth if I said I wasn’t also writing for my readers. And they, as well as I, deserve the best book I can put out. That’s where the Betas come in 😉

WRITE ON!


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks must reads:

One of THE BEST pieces of writing advice I have ever read is written by Chuck Wendig.  His blog, Terrible Minds, is a must read. Here is his incredibly inspiring post:

25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing: Terrible Minds

Wendig’s blog is R rated, so if you are easily squeamish look the other way. He is however, an amazing writer and accomplished author, and his writing advice is second to none.

J.A. Konrath has an excellent post up on his blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing, The Myth Of The Bestseller. You can read it here: A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing

Konrath’s approach is direct and to the point. He is a numbers guy and a known name in the world of self publishing. Check out his thoughts if you haven’t yet.


A Week In Links

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.  Quotes, excerpts, blog posts, etc…  So today I thought I would share some of the best blog posts I’ve read recently.

**Best selling author, social media aficionado and all around entertaining, Kristin Lamb. If you are a writer not already following her blog, do. She has a very user-friendly approach to the trials and tribulations of becoming an author/blogger/tweeter. Her blog, Warrior Writers and her post, Lies That Can Poison Our Writing Career, can be found here: Kristin Lamb

**I’m not quite sure how I missed David Gaughran, but I am thankful to have run across his blog, Let’s Get Digital. How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should as well as his column at Indie Reader.

David is an Irish writer and author. He is incredibly inspiring, funny and real. One of his must-read posts, Around The World In 80 Drafts, can be found here: David Gaughran

**And lastly this week, NY Times Best Selling Author, public speaker, publisher and novel-writing instructor, the talented, Bob Mayer. You can find his blog, Write it Forward, and his post, 2011 Wrap Up and a Look Ahead to 2012 in Writing & Publishing, here: Bob Mayer Every bit of information he shares is useful and to the point.

Have a great writing day!


This is when writing gets tricky

This is when nothing clicks anymore. When your sentences sound awful, your story doesn’t make sense, you can’t think or concentrate. I believe this is writers burn out. This is writers burn out for me.

This is the point when you wonder for the first time if you should ditch it. Dismantle it all. Everything.  And call it a day. This is where I am. I hate to admit it. Admitting it makes it real.

This isn’t writers block. This is something completely different, completely foreign.

My novel is still on my mind, new ideas still come to the surface. Some days I jot them down, other days I push them away.

I’m pretty sure this is why blogs disappear, novels go unfinished, talent goes untapped or unseen. This is when writers walk away.

Walking away isn’t my plan.

But I have been putting too much pressure on myself. Listening to too much noise. I suppose it’s part of the process–these revelations of sorts. I hope.

So, I believe the only solution is to leave it be for a while. Take a few more walks, run a little farther–a little faster and try to regain the passion that put me in front of my laptop screen in the first place.


What I Know (2)

I know that every day my novel gets one step closer to being finished and that with every hair-pulling draft, it also gets better.

I know that keeping all my thoughts in my head is an impossible task and that writing every little spec of an idea or thought down is close to imperative or they will fly away like dust.

I know that balance can be elusive.

I know that Twitter will likely bury me under a tidal wave of social fervor.

I know that self-doubt is a true part of a writers life but we must overcome it in order to achieve our goals.

I know that no amount of followers will make you a better writer–only YOU can do that.

I know that social media will not get you where you want to be without first learning to write well.

I know the social media contacts, friends and fellow writers are invaluable.

I know that today is a new day and the sun is beckoning me to follow.


Why it takes so long.

I am not a multitasker. At All. Thus, my scattered mind and anti-focusing ability. No I do not have ADHD. People with ADHD probably focus better than I do as of late. I think back on the first six months or so of writing my novel, when all my thoughts were a flowing faucet. When my energy was high and my enthusiasm was higher. When I was positive my story was right on course. I wrote my first draft in three months. The full story. A year later, I’ve rewritten that story probably five times.

I wonder about authors like JK Rowling. She took five years to complete The Sorcerer’s Stone. I wonder how she didn’t lose interest after all that time–how she kept her focus. It’s applaudable really.

Here in the 13th month with my WIP, I am the closest I have been to actually finishing–I’m just not sure how close that is. If I could sit and write for hours like I did in the beginning maybe I would already be done. But the constant questions hanging over my shoulder as I write, quash that possibility. They urge me to look deeper, question more–take longer.

I am trying to embrace my style of writing, find it useful in my progression and learn from it. After all, it is the way I write, frustrating one day, over-exuberant the next. At some point I’ll nail down the ins and outs and reel in the over-bearing devil on my shoulder. In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace what he says instead of fighting him all the time. Or…..I’ll just knock him off;)


Everything in moderation

….well maybe not everything, but social media–for writers, yeah.

During the first six months or so of writing my WIP I only had me, my music, my laptop, the thoughts in my head and everyone around me looking at me like I’d lost my mind. I was running to keep my head from exploding (I still do this) and having no other real outlet for the thoughts and ideas in my head. My family is very supportive. Still. But they don’t really get it. When you say you’re a writer, not everyone really gets what you’re doing or why you’re doing it. Or worse they think you’re just wasting time because in the grand scheme of things, it could go nowhere (I’m speaking of the up and coming authors here). We are counting on and trusting in some kind of blind faith.

I started my blog with trepidation. I’m not the most social person in the world so what would I possibly say? And who would care that I was even saying it? Twitter was worse. But I have found these outlets to be incredibly useful. (Well maybe not Twitter. Yet. That’s a lot of talking!)

Writing is hard. IT IS. And it’s harder if you are alone in your own head all the time. Connecting with other writers in the same or similar boats is invaluable. If I can’t think, blogging can loosen my brain. If I’m overwhelmed, commenting and receiving helpful replies on other sites helps me refocus. If I’m staring out the window and my Twitter alert sounds, it brings me out of my reverie.

These little devices are helpful in forward momentum. In moderation they compliment each other. They help with encouragement, insight and advice that otherwise we may never find in our own heads.


Designing for your audience

I am continuing on my topic from yesterday as I think it’s relevant and deserves some attention.

My blog is pretty straightforward. My page, color scheme, etc… represent me. But I’m wondering , as I peruse other writer/author blogs, maybe my page needs to represent my genre.

If you are targeting a certain audience with your work (and we generally are based on genre), should your blog try to attract them? This of course is in line with how much information about your WIP is too much to post online.

Perhaps having two blogs is the answer. One for your actual work. To vent, find like-minded writers, get support, etc… And another site for your platform. A site dedicated to your current WIP. Thoughts?


How much is too much?

You’ve established your blog, it’s purpose, your purpose…now what?

We are all in the writing game here. Pouring our hearts, souls and minds into our craft, hoping at some point that we connect with other writers and readers in some way. Some of us are happy telling our stories or poems through our blogs. Some are rants or advice and some are simply day to day rambles. All writers having something to say. All worthy of this craft.

What about those of us who are blogging with the intention of creating a platform as an up and coming author? Those who are trying to create a following. How much should we say to our readers, followers, fans, fellow bloggers/writers, etc…. about our WIP?

We want to create interest right? That’s the aim at a certain point. When the novel is complete, that’s the next step. Create the interest. But how do we do that really without giving everything away? Without allowing our ideas to be taken from us? Until our books are actually produced, (traditionally or self published) how much information can we safely feel comfortable giving?

If I gave ten writers the same idea for a story, what would be produced? Ten completely different stories, with different voices and different angles. The way I write will never be the way you write. And thank god for that or we would all sound the same.

Now I’m not saying I think it’s a good idea to post all your ideas and excerpts on your blog. But I am saying that creating interest about your book, is at least part, if not the main reason we start these blogs. Yes, we want the support of other writers (god knows I do) and yes, we need that occasional kick in the ass to stay on course. But at the end of the day, I think, at least for us novel writers out there, we are also looking for a fan base to jump from. A place where we can connect with other writers as well as readers who know the language we are speaking and hopefully want to take the journey we are telling through our books.

So in that light, we need to give tastes of what we are writing about. I’m not talking plot and the first three chapters. I’m talking basics. Interest builders. Genres, fiction or non fiction. Basics. So when all the moaning and complaining (mine) is over and we are staring at the blood, sweat and tears of our finished book, loving every second of it and being washed over with relief…someone else out there will actually want to read it:)


When you don’t know..

My rewrites are numerous. My ideas…off the chart ridiculous. My scope…? I’m not sure it’s wide enough. And honestly, I’m not sure how to figure it out. I know that sounds stupid. Let me say it this way. I can name any number of my favorite books and point out just where they went right. The reasons the story works and flows. I can name a few other books that all but lose me. Or pick me up and then drop me again. The books that I need more from, more detail, more explanation, more feeling.

I read my book over and over with all the rewrites and editing. Some days, I love it. Other days, I wonder what in the hell? The questioning of my work is what messes me up. Really, I’m fine with that part of the process. The questioning, it’s needed to a point. What I’m not fine with is where to cut it off. When you read your own work so many times, it can feel cluttered and clunky. When I walk away from it for a few days, read it again, I see more hiccups and fix them. Again.

That’s just it. That’s the problem. I could do this same drill for months. I know I could. So when do I leave it the hell alone and know it’s where it needs to be? When I have too many thoughts and ideas at once, my head will likely explode. And I think that’s my issue. Too many ideas. I put my novel down, walk away, come back, read it again and “Hey! I’ve got an idea!” Or worse, “What am I saying??” I don’t know how to turn it off. All this second guessing will likely kill me.