Friday, December 30, 2011
StoryFix.com: Make December Your NaNoWriMo Revision Month. Tips on revising your novel, whether you wrote it in November or not.
Publetariat: About Writing (Introduction).
Jody Hedlund: 6 Tips to Make the Learning of Fiction Techniques Less Painful.
Copyblogger: Are Internet Idiots Annihilating Your Productivity?
The Creative Penn: The 12-Step Cure for Writer's Block.
Glimmertrain: Steal This List. Suggestions to help jumpstart a stalled story or improve your storylines overall.
Savvy Authors: The 7 Secrets of the Prolific. By Hillary Rettig.
The Writing Spirit (Julie Isaac): Louisa May Alcott Didn't Need a Computer. Complete with 19th century writing magazine in .pdf.
Justine Musk: Cool Quotes by Badass Women.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The seed of plot I started with involved Sara, the Hunters, and the tattoos used in the story to control the shift from human to werewolf. I also scribbled the last line of the story in one of my notebooks. That line remains almost intact--I think I changed a word or two. There wasn't much else to it when I sat down to write.
When I wrote this story, I just took a pen and a notebook to Starbucks and scribbled the entire first draft in a couple of hours. The other plot elements fell into place as I was writing, and by the time I was halfway through, I knew exactly how the plot was going to wrap up.
Until I got there. I reached a spot in the story where we discover something important about the werewolf Sara has been pursuing. I started to write the sentence that would reveal the secret--and then I stopped.
I stopped because my brain was screaming a completely different sentence at me, one I'd never considered. I sat there for a minute just staring at the paper. Inside my head, things went something like this:
"Yes! JUST WRITE IT!"
"Seriously? But I thought it was--"
"IT ISN'T! LISTEN TO ME FERPETESAKE!"
In the end, my brain got its way. I figured I'd go ahead and write the ending that way and then change it later if it didn't work. But it did work. So I didn't change it.
I submitted the story to the anthology, and it was rejected. Instead, it's found a home at Etopia.
Have you ever had a story that surprised you like that? If so, please share. I'd hate to think I'm the only one who sits at Starbucks while weird conversations go on in my head.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Jane Friedman: Platform and Social Media Must Not Be Your Center.
eReads.com: Publishing Confidential. Interesting information on confidentiality clauses in publication contracts.
WritingSpirit.com (Julie Isaac): 3 Powerful Book Writing Tools: Acknowledge, Allow and Appreciate.
How to Plan, Write and Develop a Book (Mary Carroll Moore): Embracing the Scary Project--Why Bravery on Demand Can Help Your Writing.
The Writer's Technology Companion: How to Set SMART Writing Goals.
The World According to Maggie (Maggie Stiefvater): Dissecting Pages for Mood.
Write it Forward (Bob Mayer): Theme and Intent--Do You Know Yours?
Time.com: The Making of a Romance Novel Cover. A very entertaining short video.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I can't remember when the idea for Darkness first came to me. It's been a long time ago. When I found the story on my hard drive a few months ago, it looked like it might have originated with a writing prompt back when I was an active participant in the writing community on CompuServe. (Yes, I used CompuServe. I'm old. Get over it.)
However, there were two different versions of the story. One is the version that's coming out from Etopia. The other has much the same backstory and the characters have the same names, but the story has a much lighter tone and a very different plot.
At one point in its development, though, Darkness was a screenplay. I can't even remember now if the screenplay came before the short stories or vice versa. There are a couple of version of the that approach floating around, as well.
The thought that hit me the hardest when I started sorting through these old files was how much I'd allowed myself to play with these ideas. Now I tend to focus on a story and push it through to the end, rather than putting it into different molds to see how it fits. In away, this could be seen as a sign of growth in my writing. In another way, though, it seems sad that I spend so little time now indulging in that sense of play. Maybe I should try that approach again and see what falls out.
Darkness is available on Kindle
Friday, December 16, 2011
Write Out Loud: Self-Respect and the Writer.
Melissa Galt: 3 Fast Ways to Find Your Calm in the Midst of Chaos.
We Grow Media: Money and Time ARE NOT Your Most Precious Resources. Creative Energy Is.
Jody Hedlund: How to Prolong Your Book's Exposure. Some good ideas, although I think the "shelf life" of e-books has a different pattern.
Copyblogger: How to Master the Craft of Writing.
Savvy Authors: Picking Up the Pace: How to Write Fast and Well. By Cindi Myers.
Nathan Bransford: Do You Suffer from One of These Writing Maladies? Part One
and Part Two.
Penguin Community Blog: A Writing Exercise: Lost and Found by Laura Oliver
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
This is an experiment, really, both in distribution and in content. I don't usually write poetry, for example, and I don't write to prompts all that often. But I've been doing both with this little venture, and I've been enjoying it. So I hope you'll take a look, and let me know if you like what you see!
Short story: Santa Gets a Job. I wrote this a long time ago, and I don't remember now why, except that I was thinking about kids' stories at the time. It's a goofy little tale about how Santa can't afford to feed himself or his reindeer. After he's done with his Christmas Eve business, he sets out to find a job. Santa, it appears, is a bit of a failboat.
Poem: Christmas Lights
Poem: Snow: A Winter Haiku It's a haiku. About winter...
Short story: Up on the Housetop. A short romance. Four days before Christmas, a man falls off Ash's roof. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship?
Short story: Christmas at Farhallen. I published this story here last year for Christmas. It's a tie-in to the Starchild and Earthchild universe, but stands on its own pretty well, I think.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
|"Hail in the Flower Garden" by pcaputo|
The journey of a story idea, for me, is similar. Ideas come to me in a fairly simplistic form--a character or a basic plot, for example. Then they go away for a while to knock around my subconscious. When they come back, they've collected a few more layers--more characters, or relationships, or subplots. A scene. A few lines of dialogue. At some point, these are enough layers that the idea accumulates the weight it needs to become a full-fledged story.
The amount of time it takes for this process to complete varies from project to project. But there's always a point where I just know the story is ready to go.
For the next couple of weeks, I'm going to discuss the origins and growth of some new releases I either have out or that are coming up. The stories I'd like to discuss had different incubation periods, and grew in very different ways.
What process do your stories usually go through before you commit them to paper? Please share in the comments.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Seth Godin: Drip, Drip, Drip Goes the Twit. Marketing advice. Sort of a slow and steady wins the race kind of thing.
Copyblogger: How to Blog Like Bond. James Bond.
and a companion piece, Dr. Evil's 7 Tips for Achieving Worldwide Marketing Domination.
Wired: Need to Create? Get a Constraint.
Wired: 9 Equations True Geeks Should (at least pretend to) Know. Something makes me want to use these as writing prompts.
Nova Ren Suma: On Inspiration. Guest post by Alexander Chee.
Write it Forward (Bob Mayer): Kernel Idea Examples. Followup to last week's link on kernel ideas.
Editorrent: Paragraph Power...At the End. Interesting, quick post about rearranging a paragraph of dialogue for best impact.
Jody Hedlund: How to Keep Writing When the Honeymoon is Over.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
|photo from bn.com. Affiliate link.|
Friday, December 2, 2011
C. Hope Clark: A Writer is Multi-talented, Multi-directional. Don't limit yourself, peoples!
The Passive Voice: Constructing the Narrative Arc.
Mediactive: Author's To-Don't List. I would add--don't make a big honkin' using the wrong word error in a Author's To-Don't List, but that's because I haven't had my coffee or my Zoloft yet this morning. Still, good advice. (Extra points if you spot the error and post it in the comments.)
Carina Press Blog: Angela James: Don't Turn Your Passion Into an Obsession. Advice on avoiding burnout.
Livia Blackburne: Showcase the Sexy, but Don't False Advertise (and other lessons I learned writing my book pitch). Self-explanatory.
The 99 Percent: Op-Ed: In the Particular Lies the Universal. About finding the power of your own gifts and voice.
OpenForum: 11 Radical Slogans that will Change Your Business.
Copyblogger: The 5 Keys to Content Marketing Mastery. Applies to any sort of writing. Or other ventures, for that matter.
Write it Forward (Bob Mayer): The Kernel Idea: The Alpha and Omega of Your Book. Aimed at NaNoWriMo-ers, but solid advice for any writing venture.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
|photo from sxc.hu by christgr|
Friday, November 25, 2011
Jane Friedman: 10 Phrases to Purge from Your Speech and Writing. I mildly disagree to a couple of these, but others are high on my list of pet peeves. And seriously, how could anybody not care about ice hockey? I mean really.
Write2Publish: What's Wrong With Traditional Publishing and How to Save It. Discussion of changing business models and the disadvantages of venture capital approaches.
Glimmer Train: Territory. Discussion of thinking about the "territory" of your work--common themes you keep coming back to. I tend to keep writing about bitter divorcees. What is that about?
Findability: Twitter Automation Tools. Honestly, I debated including this link because it looks to me like THIS is the person who doesn't "get" Twitter. I mean, why the heck can't I tweet about what I had for dinner? (Last night it was Sonic. Again.) And OMG, don't use automatic DMs when people follow you. That's just annoying. But there are some tidbits here that I think I'm going to poke around with and see what falls out, so I'm passing the link along. Your mileage may vary.
Puck Daddy: Cool First-Person Hockey Practice, Now With Stick-Cam! This is just cool. You're welcome.
Jeff Goins: Why You Should Tell the Ugly Parts of Your Story.
Novel Publicity & Co: Look at Your Writing Through Somebody Else's Eyes. Thoughts on distancing yourself from the work during the editing process. And part II of this post is also a good read.
TN Tobias: 10 Ways to Create a Plot Twist. Has some spoilers for some films, so avoid if you're spoiler-phobic.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
|photo from www.sxc.hu, by royalshot|
- The Outlander series, read by Davina Porter
- Neil Gaiman—self-read and Anansi Boys
- Sookie Stackhouse series
- The Help
- Davina Porter—Hamish Macbeth series
Friday, November 18, 2011
|photo from sxc.hu by hugoslv|
Baekdal: Busted: The 99 Cents Book Failed Miserably. The title is misleading, imo. Read the whole article for the important part down at the end.
Lindsey Donner: 4 Clear Facts About the Future of Digital Content. Aimed more at businesses, but still an interesting read.
iamnoveling: NaNoWriMo: Breaking Through Writer's Block.
CIA Tracks Revolt by Tweet, Facebook. Fascinating read. Makes me wonder if you could write an entire international espionage novel that was nothing but Tweets and Facebook posts...
Writer Unboxed: On Rejection. Guest post about one writer's struggle after her first publication.
Drunk Writer Talk: Building a Platform. Should you? Shouldn't you? When should you? Why should you? Why am I not drunk right now?
Bubblecow: Editing Your Own Book: Top Ten Tips.
Steven Pressfield: The 10,000 Hour Rule. What it really means.
The Fall of Print: Why Future Self-Publishers May Tend to Earn More by Writing Less. Interesting breakdown of the evolving self-publishing model.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Athletes train. Well, duh, you say. Of course athletes train. Everybody knows that.
I knew that, too. But until my Evil Best Friend dragged me into the dubious clutches of hockey fandom, I didn't realize how extensive, pervasive and consuming that training was.
I don't know what I thought, really. Maybe that they worked out an hour or so per day on off-season, maybe a little harder during the regular season, made sure they didn't gain too much weight, etc., etc. Honestly, I hadn't thought about it that much.
Then, between the end of last season and the beginning of Blackhawks training camp, I watched some video that was released into the wild documenting the regimens of several hockey players during the off-season. Heavy, carefully targeted workouts to help recover from injuries or surgeries. Skating while attached to bungee cords. Balance exercises. Yoga. Pilates. Shoving an entire weight rack across a parking lot (with the weights still on it, I might add). Eating 7 to 8,000 calories a day, mostly chicken and protein shakes, to deliberately build 20 pounds of muscle. Weightlifting—while wearing skates in the gym.
Seriously. These dudes are hard-core. Duncan Keith spent the summer working out with a trainer, and when he showed up for medical testing before training camp, he broke the bike. (That part isn't a metaphor. There was a bike. He broke it.)
The workout and training portion is every bit as important as the part where they go out on the ice and fight over the puck. Maybe more so. Because without that extra muscle, without the heavy conditioning and the balance and coordination and stick-handling drills, they can't perform when the puck is dropped.
My question, then, is why don't writers pursue the same kind of practice? Musicians do—they spend hours and hours at the practice space working through every detail of a song before they take it on stage. Painters spend years learning basic shapes and forms and emulating the work of established classical artists. But all too often, writers just scribble a story down and send it out, without considering the elements that make it work, or the basic skills they give a story strength and staying power.
I think many of us should reconsider this. Where are your weaknesses in your writing? Where could you focus to refine your abilities?
There are a lot of ways you could develop this training program. Take a workshop, online or in person. Read a book about craft. Read someone else's book and analyze their techniques. Figure out what works for you in other people's writing and incorporate it into your own. Pick a successful author and emulate his or her style for a short piece to see how it “feels.”
I think too often we get wrapped up in producing work to sell, and don't think about writing as a practice. Try it for a while—intersperse some craft building activities into your regular writing schedule and see what happens. Do it in the gym, on skates. Break that damn bike. And if you figure out how to work in that eating 7000 calories a day thing, let me know
Friday, November 11, 2011
Patricia C. Wrede: To Sell Out... Thoughts on writers who think they have to "sell out" to land a best-seller or a contract. (To the commenter--no, that shouldn't be a comma. If it were, it'd be a comma splice, and comma splices are the work of Satan.)
Blue Rose Girls: How I Edit. An interesting breakdown of a professional editor's process. Mine's a little different, often because my deadlines are tighter than a bass player's leather pants.
Gigaom: On the Death of Book Publishers and Other Middlemen. Interesting discussion of self-publishing as well as the new models represented by Amazon and Kobo's direct contracts with authors.
Justine Musk: One Reason you Should Give Yourself Permission to Work on Your Badass Creative Project. Sing it, sister. Starting to realize I really, really like this blog.
paidContent.org: Kindle Free Book Lending Holy Sh*t! I'm seeing a lot of mixed feelings about this development. Me? I think it's awesome. Still some kinks to work out, of course, but yeah. Awesome.
Write for Your Life: Open Your Writing Mind with the Morning Papers. A discussion of the benefits of writing morning pages, a la Julia Cameron and The Artist's Way. I've tried these before with mixed results. Any insight from those who've had success with this practice?
Justine Musk: Are Fiction Writers Screwed, Part 2. This is about building platform, except it's not. Excellent post.
Jane Friedman: Self-Published Authors Have Great Power, But Are They Taking Responsibility? Didja really think we were going to make it through the week without a Jane Friedman link? If you did, you were sadly mistaken.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Basically the same way.
Here’s what I do:
- Follow the link. Watch maybe a minute of the video to see if it appeals (unless it’s really short—then watch the whole thing and see if it’s something you want to keep)
- Download it to a folder. Organize these folders by topic and/or presenter
- Collect numerous themed videos
- Watch later, like a lecture series
Do podcasts the same way.
The only tricky part of this is the downloading bit. Some places really don’t want you downloading their video. I figure if they don’t want me downloading their video, then they’re not that committed to getting me to watch it. So I download it myself. (Please note—FOR MY OWN PERSONAL USE.)
There are several tools available to download video from YouTube and other places. Many of these work for almost any embedded video. If you’re on Firefox I recommend Download Helper or DownThemAll. If you’re not on Firefox, I apologize but you’ll have to Google your own tools. I never did find anything for Chrome that I was happy with, and if you’re on Explorer you have more problems than I can deal with here.
Anyway. There are also conversion tools you can use to convert video so you can play it on your iPod. (Some video is immediately playable on the iPod without conversion, and most podcasts are.) Going to the gym? Load up the iPod with video or podcasts on blogging success or how to turn your freakish obsession with vampires into profit and fame and plug it into the TV on the elliptical and have at it. We call that multitasking. It’s supposed to be bad for you, so I do it as often as possible. Or listen to podcasts in the car while you’re driving to the store for your vital medication (I don’t recommend watching video in the car unless someone else is driving).
I hope this helps you utilize some of the information you’re undoubtedly collecting, to make it easier to access and more relevant. Hopefully it’ll help us all get to step 6 more efficiently.
Friday, November 4, 2011
ProBlogger: 65 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Blog. Some of these look useful. Some just look silly... lol. Your mileage may vary.
Convince and Convert: Don't Ignore Social Media's Research Value. Interesting stuff.
Poynter: What Movies, Comic Books and Songs Teach Us About Writing Powerful Scenes.
Rachelle Gardner: Novelists, Stop Trying to Brand Yourselves. Thoughts on how to present yourself as a fiction writer.
Jane Friedman: Back to Basics: Writing a Synopsis.
Kirkus MacGowan: My Path--Why I Chose Self-Publishing.
Justine Musk: Why You Have to Give it Away to be a Successful Creative.
Emery Road: Learning to Call it "Good Enough" So You Can Grow as a Writer. Good advice. Annoying pop-up.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
--The Police, Too Much Information
The best thing about the Information Age is that there is SO MUCH STUFF!! If you’re like me and you love STUFF, it’s a veritable gold mine.
The worst thing about the Information Age? SO MUCH STUFF!!
As evidenced by my Friday link posts, I spend a lot of time following links from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc., looking for nuggets of Useful Information. Some of the stuff I find is great—it jumpstarts ideas, clarifies problems, helps me get my procrastinating rear end on a better path. But a lot of it is just crap.
For a while, I was sifting through blog posts and printing out everything that looked marginally interesting, then putting it in a pile. I’d read it later, I figured, and find all the wonderful nuggets of wonderfulness contained therein.
Well. That produced a really big pile of paper. So I tried a different approach.
I like Staples. I got there a lot, and I come out with notebooks, pens, folders, binders, sticky notes…it’s a sickness. But I was looking at my pile of papers, then at the bag full of folders I’d just come home with from Staples, and I had a thought.
I sorted the papers into piles according to subject: Blogging, Social Media, Writing Tips, etc. Then I punched holes in them and put them into folders. (These are the 3-hole punch folders with the metal tabs in the middle, so when you’re done you have a sort of compilation rather than a bunch of loose papers in a folder.) Sometimes I download free .pdfs of material that seems useful. The larger of these I put into separate folders.
So. That produced a large pile of folders. Next step?
Implementation is a good word here, because it sounds really important. I mean, if you’re implementing, you’re really Getting Shit Done, right?
Let’s hope. Anyway, I looked through each folder and decided what looked extra useful and what didn’t. I tossed stuff that didn’t hold up. Then I picked up one folder and started working through all the articles and blog posts there and taking notes. Everything that sparked my brain is now in a notebook, where it can foment and percolate and grow Important Intellectual Bacteria, or whatever it is that ideas do to turn themselves into Action Items. In this case, I ended up with a list of information and ideas on brand definition and development and how that ties in with platform.
I also followed a lot of links that brought me to more interesting material, which I then organized into its own folders, both on my computer and in hard copy. I’m kind of looking at each folder as a mini-course in the relevant subject. I take a “course” every few days by sorting through these themed collections.
So here’s the process, in a nutshell:
• Collect anything that looks interesting
• Cull anything that proves not interesting
• Sort by topic
• Compile notes
• Form action items and plans to implement what you’ve learned
Next time: Information Overload Part II—applying this process to video and podcasts.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Rachelle Gardner: Master the Craft of Writing. Please. Before you send me your manuscripts. (Editor hat off.)
PsyBlog: Why You Should Keep Your Goals Secret. Not sure I agree with all of this, but I definitely have noticed similar things happening to me personally.
Derek Haines: When Your Writing is Crap.
Jeff Goins: Don't Avoid Painful Writing. I've also read a lot of advice that says not to write out of your own pain because it's too self-indulgent to ever be any good. As usual, I think both thoughts have merit, and both thoughts are wrong. Was that helpful?
The High Calling: LL Barkat on Writing. I haven't read her book, and I disagree with her statement that some things just "shouldn't be published," but there's some good, meaty thoughts here on writing and finding the depth and guts of a story.
Social Media Examiner: 5 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page.
Jane Friedman: My Secret for Battling Procrastination. Yes, I know none of you ever procrastinate.
Social Media Explorer: Education is the New Marketing.
Jenny Hanson, guest post by Jody Hedlund: Four Steps for Organizing Plot Ideas into a Novel.
SF Gate: Mark Morford: Hurry Up, Get More Done, and Die. Should probably be required reading for, like, everyone.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Also—wtf is that picture?
Well, I’ll tell you. That picture is French toast with real, organic butter, organic maple syrup, a banana, and some shredded cheese.
If you’re like most people, you were hanging along okay until I got to the cheese. At the cheese, you probably went… Okay…why cheese?
Trust me. It’s really good.
When I was a kid, I lived near Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. There was a restaurant in Champaign that served French toast with bananas and cheese. (They also topped it with whipped cream, but I always thought that was overkill.) They called it a Cinderella, and it was fabulous.
Here’s another food story. We used to drive down to Olney a lot to visit my cousins. When we spent the night, they would make pancakes and put peanut butter on them. (And syrup. The “overkill” ingredient is vital for this one.) I thought it was weird at first, but when I tried it, I got hooked. Pancakes with peanut butter is awesome.
What’s the point? I think it’s something like this: if you’re writing a story or a book or a poem, you often find yourself moving down tried and true paths. You’re okay with the French toast with butter and syrup. Banana? That’s fine—fruit’s a traditional accompaniment for French toast. But cheese? With the banana and the syrup (and whipped cream if you’re a purist)? That’s just weird!
And then you taste it. And it’s fabulous.
So what’s the cheese you can toss onto your French toast book? Or the peanut butter for your traditional novel pancake? Is it a super quirky character you don’t think would ever work? A romance hero who doesn’t like to be touched? A powerful warrior with claustrophobia? Play with ideas. Eventually you’ll hit on something that sounds like it would never work but which, in practice, works perfectly.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Writer's Digest: The Geyser 5-Step Approach to Revision.
Jane Friedman: Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen? Good, common-sense advice, as usual from Jane.
Tribal Writer: Why You Need to Write Like a Bad Girl, Part One.
Write to Publish: Good Reads 101: Part Two.
Happy Place: How to Keep the Grammatically Challenged off the Internet. This made me laugh.
The Business Rusch: New Paths
Jane Friedman: The Story Bible--What it Is and Why You Need One.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
|Photo from bn.com. Affiliate link.|
If you're not into yoga, or feel that a spiritual practice just isn't your thing, much of this book won't make much sense, and will probably make you roll your eyes a lot. But if you benefit from the integration of spirituality into your regular routine, this book will give you several new ways of looking at how your creativity works, how it ebbs and flows, and ways to harness a steadier, more reliable flow of ideas and production.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Many, many links today...
The Passive Voice--What You Don't Know About Find and Replace in Microsoft Word. This information is both awesome and frightening. Use with care.
Fiction Groupie--The Post In Which I Rant About Blogging, Platforms, and the Pressure on Writers. This is an excellent post with much food for thought.
Erastes--Believe in what you write—even if it is “only for money”. Some words of wisdom.
Jane Friedman--The Evolving Model of the Entrepreneurial Novelist. Fascinating take on self publishing from Sean Platt.
Aliventures--7 Habits of Serious Writers. Amazingly enough, I do all these things. Go me!
Dystel & Godrick Literary Management--Writers with Imprints. Interesting development. I want my own imprint! Somebody give me one!
The Story Prize--Patricia Henley on the Rational Part of the Writing Process. There's a rational part to the writing process? Who knew?
Julie Isaac--How to Write Daily More Easily. Some great tips on increasing the consistency of your productivity.
The Guardian--Romantic Fiction's Passion for E-Books.
Patricia C. Wrede--The Hat Lecture. Great advice here for serious writers, and I love the presentation.
Livia Blackburne--The Psychology of Attraction: Uncertainty.
The Fall of Print--How a new survey of ebook discovery habits lends hope to self-publishers and tips for better marketing. Some interesting stats here.
Adam Westbrook--What Monty Python can teach the next generation of publishers. Good article, although not about all of Monty Python. Focuses on Terry Gilliam's creative process.
World Policy.org--Innovation Starvation. Neal Stephenson talks about the obligations of a science fiction writer. A meaty and thought-provoking read.
Last but not least: A friend of mine recently lost her job, and is working on building a Pampered Chef business. If you like Pampered Chef products (I think they're fantastic), consider dropping by her personal Pampered Chef page to place an order.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Whatever the opposite of a Luddite is, that’s my son. If he needs to do homework and there’s no computer available, it doesn’t even occur to him to work on the essay longhand.
I often hear writers bemoaning the fact that their electricity is out so they can’t get any work done. I look at my pen and notebook and can’t figure out how electricity outage is keeping them from working. During the daytime, at least. At night, candles don’t quite cut it, and they can set your notebooks on fire.
The truth is, I’ve always composed longhand. Of course, back in the day, I didn’t have much choice. It was either longhand or a manual typewriter that made my wrists ache. Later my parents bought me an electric typewriter, which was easier on my wrists, but I still wrote my first drafts by hand.
I like specific pens. I like certain kinds of paper. In high school I liked rolling ball ink pens and looseleaf paper. In my twenties I preferred Bic sticks and steno pads. In the last few years I’ve switched to Moleskine notebooks, composition tablets, and Sharpie pens—the kind that don’t soak through the paper—and Sharpie liquid graphite erasable pencils that turn permanent after day or two, because they’re the coolest things ever.
I like the flexibility of writing by hand. I can stick a notebook in my purse and write anywhere. I also like the way it feels. There’s just something about the feel of a pen sliding over paper that makes writing feel more real to me.
There are disadvantages, of course. I have a tendency to misplace notebooks. A lost notebook can undermine my productivity for days at a time. (Or months. I’m great at losing things.) And then there’s transcription.
When I mention to my editors or other writers that I’ve got a story finished except for transcription, I’m often met with a O.o (an O.o? Who knows…). And looking at a full notebook that needs to be transcribed is kind of like looking at a sink full of dirty dishes. It takes time. And until recently, it was uncomfortable.
I recently made the leap to dictating software, though, which has made it a lot easier. My decision came largely because of carpal tunnel syndrome. I was waking up in the middle of the night unable to feel my hands. I’d try to pet the dog and end up pummeling her with big, numb clubs. She didn't appreciate it very much.
With dictation software—I use Dragon Dictate for Mac—I can just read the story into my computer. It’s actually faster than typing—and I type 100+ words per minute—and the dictation mistakes can be really entertaining.
I’ve written books on the computer, but I don’t think I’ve ever written an entire story on the computer. At some point I always end up with pen and paper, especially if I’m having trouble getting the words to flow. When I was spending more time drafting on the computer, before my wrists got worse, many, many stories started with several scenes written by hand before I started lining everything up in Scrivener (or Word, back in the Bad Old PC days). So when it comes to my current most efficient method of writing, longhand it is, no matter how many O.o’s I get.
If you’re a longhand girl (or boy) too, stick to your guns. Some days it seems there aren’t many of us left.
Monday, October 10, 2011
There’s no question about it: sex sells, and the current romance market is thriving on more explicit content than ever before in the history of the genre. However, readers are discerning, and even the most daring content will fall flat if it isn’t integrated into the story on an emotional level and on a story level.
This course will show you how to write sex scenes that not only scorch the pages, but carry the story forward and reveal important plot elements or provide in-depth characterization. No more cookie cutter scenes—each sex scene will be integral to the story and specific to the characters involved, drawing the reader into your story and leaving them thoroughly fulfilled—in more ways than one.
Register for the course at Savvy Authors. I hope to see you there!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Anyway... on to the meaty linky bits.
Breaking In Before Breaking Down: Promotional Tips for Self-Published Authors
Will Boast: Cutting Out the Bad Bits. Via Jane Friedman, "Write More Raw Material Than You Need"
Rachelle Gardner: 10 Tips About Author Platform
Fuel Your Writing: Crowdsource Your Book With Pubslush. I'm fascinated by this new publishing model.
An Internet High Five. 'Cause we all need one.
Digital Book World: Social Media--The Art of the Nudge
Tribal Writer: 6 So-Called Rules for the Badass Creative Woman
Livia Blackburne: Revision Adventures: Building Strong Characters and Emotional Depth. Some great tidbits here that I plan to use.
AdAge MediaWorks: As Devices and Distribution Compete, Content Enjoys Renaissance I wonder if we need a new royalty/artist compensation structure to keep from driving the content distributors/aggregators out of business.
Jane Friedman (Guest Blogger Biba Pearce): 3 Tips for Professional Ebook Covers
Publish Your Own Ebooks: The Importance of Building an Author Platform. Yes, I'm a little obsessed with this topic right now...
The League of Reluctant Adults: Responding to Negative Reviews. This is FANTASTIC. Especially the art work. :-D
Wow, Barnes and Noble? REALLY? Maybe I'm not so excited about trying to keep you in business after all.
Have a great weekend!! And I think everybody should go to B&N and demand copies of Watchmen and Sandman. Just to see what happens.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
A splash of gold
On pine-swathed breast;
The mountains lay
The fall to rest.
If you live in the mountains in Colorado, there are certain things you can be sure of. During the summer, to avoid traffic, go down the mountain on Friday and up the mountain on Sunday to avoid campers going the opposite direction. This applies doubly to Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends, except shift the Sunday to Monday.
Oh, and it’ll happen again on one weekend in mid to late September or early October.
That last was tricky. It’s never the same weekend, so you have to pay attention to the news or other media outlets to find out when it’s going to happen.
It happened this past Saturday. I was driving the kids downtown to celebrate my first anniversary of self-employment and my son’s eighteenth birthday, which will happen on Wednesday. Traffic was backed up in front of the road where I turn onto the highway. In fact, it was backed up nearly ten miles, in some stretches slowed to stop-and-go.
“What the heck?” I said to the kids. I saw no sign of an accident, and Saturday afternoon isn’t prime camping traffic.
Then it struck me.
The traffic was backed up for ten miles because everybody was heading into the mountains to look at the trees.
Growing up in the Midwest, I always had lots of trees to look at in the fall. Oak, maple, poplar—they smeared every fall landscape with reds, oranges and yellows.
In Colorado, it’s the aspens. Just the aspens, in masses and patches of brilliant gold set against the deep green of pines. It’s really quite stunning to see them high color. Aspens share root systems, so they grow in groves, all of which change color at roughly the same time.
This weekend was the prime weekend. That’s the thing about the aspens. If you went this past weekend, you will have seen the glorious display of hundreds of golden leaves shimmering in the breeze. Next weekend? It’ll all be brown, dead and gone. It’s a fragile thing. The beauty of the color depends on vagaries of weather, including temperature and rainfall, that I’ve never been able to figure out. People in the news media here do calculus while standing on their heads to determine the exact day that the color will be at its peak.
The color is vibrant this year, a darker, richer gold than I’ve seen in a long time, probably because we had a crazy-wet summer. But we didn’t go up the hills to Kenosha Pass or Guanella Pass or Mt. Evans. Not this year.
Instead we went around about our regular business. At the library, I looked up to see two huge patches of aspens in the peaks beyond, stunningly brilliant against the surrounding deep green. More golden splendor lurked between peaks I see every day, now transformed so that I couldn’t help but look and marvel a little as we drove down to lunch. At Meyer Ranch Open Space Park, I saw patches of red among the gold. And following the bends in the highway, I saw streaks of aspen groves like molten gold poured down the sides of the mountains.
It’s nice to go somewhere special to see the aspens. At Kenosha Pass, there are huge groves, so everywhere you look, there’s nothing but gold. At Mt. Evans, the swathes of gold highlight the towering, rugged flanks of 14,000-foot peaks.
But seeing that same gold scattered over my familiar landscape struck me more deeply this year than past treks to Kenosha have. This year the aspens were a special gift, one I didn’t have to seek out, but that instead was scattered all around me, in familiar places that were made special, gilded by the dying leaves.
I think I liked it better this year.
Monday, October 3, 2011
So, coming up tomorrow, I blog about why the traffic was horrible in my neck of the woods this past weekend. There will be pretty pictures...
Friday, September 30, 2011
Linky linky McLinkerson...
Nathan Bransford talks about contradictory characters and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Bob Mayer--The Perfect Storm Is Coming in Publishing.
Writing Integrated Sex Scenes--Romance University.org
Writer Unboxed--Why You Should Only Query 6-8 Agents at a Time
Learning to Love Book Reviews--some good resource links here on how to write reviews, although the article itself is fairly sparse.
Publishing Perspectives--How Self-Published Authors Get Their Covers Right
Judging Books by Their Covers--I think this is the first time I've seen a hedgehog on a book cover. Follow this one with More on Covers, at the same blog.
Blogging Tips--Keep Social Media in Mind When Writing Your Opening Paragraph
Writing Physical Descriptions--Hair Colors. Some interesting tidbits here.
Write more ebooks to prepare for the Kindle Fire--The Fire is Coming!! (ok that wasn't even funny)
What is a Writer's Minimum Viable Product?--Interesting idea, but my automatic reaction is don't downgrade your content.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
I remember being in a cave. It is dark and close, and I feel like I’m alone. There are vague lights here and there. The darkness isn’t threatening. It just is
I remember lying on a mattress watching TV. On the screen is a rocketship in a scaffolding, ready to launch. There is a black cat. The room I’m in is small, and I have to look up to see the TV, which is sitting on a dresser.
I’m not sure where the memory of the cave comes from. I know my family visited Carlsbad caverns when I was very young, but whether this cave is related, I’ve never managed to find out. Maybe it was a dream. Maybe I’m remembering the womb. Maybe it’s nothing significant at all.
The TV sequence was a real event. The show was Star Trek, and the episode I was watching was from the third season, not long before the original series was canceled.
Is there a point to this? I don’t know. Maybe that reality is so subjective we can’t even be sure our memories feed it back to us accurately. Do we really remember what we think we remember? If we’re made of our memories, does this inaccuracy have a fundamental effect on our psyche?
In the end, does it really matter?
Friday, September 23, 2011
Using an Agent to Get on Kindle--John Carpenter's publishing journey. An interested snapshot of a changing marketplace. Also I think I'll get this book for my son. Jane Friedman's blog.
Life Stages of a Writer--interesting take on how to look at your work. (Terrible background color--I used readability.com to keep from getting eyestrain.)
Tips on Successful Blogging--Creative Penn. These are both podcasts, but if you scroll down there are links to .pdf and online transcripts if you'd rather read. Blogging Basics and Advanced Blogging Tips for Authors.
Certainty Anchors. This is an excerpt from the book Uncertainty, by Jonathan Fields, about how ritual helps anchor creativity. Jane Friedman.
Product vs. Author Brand. Part 3 of the series on branding I linked to last week. From Write to Publish.
But What About the Quiet Ones? Writer Unboxed. About the challenges faced in promoting the "quiet" novel.
5 Stephen King Quotes Every Writer Should Heed. Because Stephen King is awesome, even though I don't like all of his books.
Marketing is Dead. Traditional marketing vs. "Tribe Building."
5 Timeless Insights on Fear and the Creative Process. More on how ritual enhances creativity, this time with five recommended books on the topic.
Downtown Trains... Oh, never mind. That's all about hockey. Moving right along...
15 Prompts to Help Kick-Start Your Story. Some useful tidbits here if you're looking to start a story or deepen one you've already written.
And that's all for today. Unfortunately it looks like I might have opened as many tabs as I closed on this round. Sigh...
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I visited a blog recently and talked about my mantra of allowing yourself to write a ‘crappy’ first draft and how much this changed my writing output overnight. I really think writers put more pressure on themselves than any editor, agent, reviewer or reader ever could so when I discovered how much more I get written when I stop obsessively editing, it was SO liberating!
But are we ever happy with our writing? Do we ever fully believe we haven’t written the best story we possibly can? Do we fully embrace the potential to receive five star reviews for all those thousands of little words that we spent weaving into a novella or full-blown novel?Nooo, of course not!! That would make sense. It’s far better just to beat ourselves up and constantly rant and rave that we can’t write, we’re not good enough or how would anyone want to spend a weekend of their time, sitting on a couch with a cold glass of wine and one our books. Yes, this is said with my tongue in my cheek…but it isn’t entirely untrue. Well, not for me anyway. But I digress…the topic of my blog today is synopsis writing and how I write mine. As a result of that author visit I mentioned at the start of this post, apparently the stage in the writing process when I write mine is rare, as opposed to my method so I thought I’d share both. When do I write a synopsis? BEFORE the first word of the story is written, of course. Don’t you? No? Okay, well, I never claimed to be normal or I wouldn’t write in the first place, right? ;) How do I write a synopsis? The general rule of thumb is as follows:
First paragraph – I start with my blurb, this is my HOOK. If you can get this job done now, it will help you massively once you’ve typed ‘The end”. Try to summarise you book in a single paragraph, keeping the mood and tone of the story as your focus.Introduce your hero and heroine – and most importantly their ‘problem’ or goal. In other words, here is where you establish, Goal, Motivation & Conflict (never easy!) Next, you establish the high points of your story – the pivotal moments. The best tip I was ever given when writing this stage is every high point should include an ACTION, REACTION and a DECISION. Finally, the resolution – how is everything tied up into a nice neat package leaving the reader happy and satisfied. Easy, right? Well, I never said that did I? ;) But why writing this BEFORE I start the book works for me is because I have a ‘skeleton story’ established that I can refer back to if I get lost, but also gives me the freedom to change and go with the flow as much as I want. If I change things along the way, or the characters take the story off in a different direction, that’s okay. I just remember to update the synopsis as I work so when my story is finished, so is my synopsis (more or less!). Good, huh?
Rachel’s latest release is Paying The Piper, available from Lyrical Press on September 19th.
Blurb:Nightclub manager Grace Butler is on a mission to buy the pub where her mother's ashes are scattered but the owner wants to sell to anyone but her. And that owner happens to be her father...who has a secret she will do anything to discover.
Social worker and all around good guy Jimmy Betts needs funds to buy a house for three special kids before their care home closes. Time is running out and he's desperate for cash. He agrees to to a one-time 'job' for bad-man Karl Butler. But in a sudden turn of events, Jimmy finds himself employed by Karl's beautiful, funny and incredibly sexy daughter, Grace. Their lives couldn't be more different, yet one thread binds them: they're both trying to escape the bonds of their fathers. Maybe the only way they'll be free is by being together, instead of alone.
Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Having always believed there’s someone for everyone, Rachel started writing her own tales of love once her children were at school. Since then, she’s had several books published with The Wild Rose Press, Eternal Press and Lyrical Press. She has recently acquired a US agent with her second Victorian historical. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, Rachel cannot imagine her life without romance or writing!
When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family.And in the evening? Well, a well-deserved glass of wine is never, ever refused…
Check out Rachel's work, and if you'd like to guest post here, drop me a line.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Six From the Heart
Zoe's Voice--He's not sure who she is, but if she'll keep talking to him in that voice, he'll give her everything.
Second Chances--He had something important to say. She misunderstood--bigtime. He wants to try again--this time without his foot in his mouth.
The Test--The test is positive. What now?
Hope, and Glory--Glory moved away a long time ago. Now she's back, and things are looking up.
Dinner for Two--Lauren won dinner with the third-grade teacher. Her daughter thinks she should go, but Lauren's not so sure.
The Gift--Affrick has loved Gilly since they were children. How will she catch his attention now that he's decided to wed again? (Scottish historical.)
Amazon (Kindle edition)
Barnes & Noble (Nook edition)
Smashwords (Multiple formats)
1PlaceforRomance (Multiple formats)
All Romance eBooks (Multiple formats)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Anyway. I have tons of tabs open in my browser, so as I close them down I'm going to share. (I kinda sorta stole this idea from Neil Gaiman, but he has lots of ideas so I'm sure he won't miss it terribly.) It's a wide variety of STUFF, so I hope there's something in here you'll enjoy.
A really embarrassing typo happens to an author. Susan Andersen's hero becomes altogether filthier after memorable editing error.
My friend Jennifer's Deviant Art page, with pictures for Halloween.
A breakdown of the first ten pages of the script for Inception.
Fear is the Downfall of Publishing. Blog post by Bob Mayer.
Epic Black Car--Social Media is a Tool, Not a Magic Bullet.
Epic Black Car--Romance Novelists are a Secret, Epic Army. (I found this one really entertaining.)
Livia Blackburne--How to Self-Promote Without Selling Your Soul.
Write to Publish--Branding: Where to Begin
Write to Publish--Branding: Part 2--The Basics
Write it Forward--The Real Gatekeepers in Publishing Now? Authors. More from Bob Mayer.
Husbands: The Series. A new web series from former Buffy the Vampire Slayer scribe Jane Espenson, et al.