Sunday, January 31, 2010

Letting Your Baby Go

Yep, it's that time, Red Hot Fairy Tale is off in cyber space on it's way to the editor of the anthology call I wrote it for. Letting your baby go can be the most difficult part. Truthfully, you could edit and edit and edit and edit and never let it go. Something could always be found to be "fixed" whether the fixes actually make it better is debatable. On the other side of the coin is when you send it off before it's really ready because you are anxious to be done and send it out into the word.

Striking that right balance can be difficult. For me, with this one, it was a date, I had to have it written, edited, and sent off by a certain date so that took some of the pressure of is it too edited or not edited enough out of the process. But I've been on the other side, sending something that I later discovered wasn't ready to have gone out and also editing something for so long that it lost that spark that it originally had.

How do you know when your baby is ready to brave the real world?

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Fear is something I was thinking a lot about yesterday. namely, my own fear. As the deadline for Red Hot Fairy Tales loomed I have become more and more stressed. I finally admitted my fear to my husband last night who asked "Will it be ready in time for the deadline?" Yes, it will, he was then confused on what I was afraid of. I had to explain that it was the fear of letting my baby go. This book has been a stretch for me both in the short length and in attempting to write "hot". LOL. Or I should say, just going with the hot instead of my normal, nah, it's too early in the book for that. I got rid of that little voice on page 10.

I found myself working on taxes on Monday and Tuesday, why? Because I had to take my mind off it. The book is done and out with beta readers to catch anything I missed. But I couldn't stop obsessing. I know enough about myself that I couldn't start a new book, just yet, so what do I do. Taxes. Ack. I gotta get a more interesting life. And I couldn't even finish the darn taxes because most companies don't send out all those tax forms till the end of January.

Back to fear. I wrote my first draft of my synopsis and query letter yesterday will polish them up today. I start worrying abut the title. Nothing had come to me while I was writing it. The darn thing doesn't have a title. You can't submit a book without a title. And there goes the fear again. Plus, I need a name. I'd already decided that I was going to submit this book under a pen name since my nonfiction book is written under my real name and is geared toward YA readers - this new book is not YA at all. This is where my husband found me, obsessing about titles and pen names.

With his help I settled on both last night. Actually picking the ones I had been leaning toward, but needed that little push to solidify my decisions.

What I noticed most as I thought about the urgency I felt was that these were things that, yes, I had to get done and done before I send in my submission, but the fear added stress and urgency to the mix that wouldn't have been there. And quite frankly it didn't move the process on any faster.

I don't have any advice on handling fear as I'm still working on my own though I will say that I took an excellent course called Warrior Writer that talks a lot about this which I think is why I was able to identify the fear so quickly and figure out the underlying cause of the fear.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Storytellers You Admire

After watching the profile on Nancy Meyers I began to think about storytellers that I admire and why.

Carrie Fischer is someone who's led shall we say an interesting life and it shows in the work she's produced. She's written books, screenplays, and been a script doctor. I've always found inspiration from the interviews she's given on writing and creating. She is one smart and funny lady.

Stephen Sommers wrote, okay adapted, two of my favorite movies. The Adventures of Huck Finn (my fave film as a teen) and The Mummy. The Mummy is still one of my favorite romantic adventures. Movie makers and writers should note from that movie how to weave in a realistic romance into a straight action movie (so many movies do it so badly and this is one of the few that got it right). Interestingly, the original script the romance felt more forced and I wonder what changed between the original script and the final product. Was it the actors? A rewrite? The direction? Yes, I actually wonder about these things. LOL. I also love Stephen's women. Look at how he portrays women in his movies - beautiful, strong, and they know who they are. Also wonder, does he employ the same make-up artist for every movie? LOL

Linda Howard wrote one of my favorite books and heroines within the romance genre, To Die For. Whenever I need a laugh, I pull out TDF, and get lost in this wonderful and hysterical character. One of the few books that Linda has written in 1st person. Also, a great study in how to do 1st person and how to do it well.

John Hughes. I was so shocked to hear that he'd passed away this last summer and that I somehow had never heard till fall. What surprised me even more was the number of people that said "Who?" when I asked if they knew that he'd died. I guess they weren't as affected by his movie making as I was. But I don't think we can look at current movie making without seeing his influence in the teen and family comedies. He was and will always be a genius. Okay, just to show you how influential I will list the movies he wrote that I love: Mr. Mom, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Christmas Vacation, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Great Outdoors, Uncle Buck, and Home Alone. The list goes on and on with other family and comedies that he wrote, produced, and directed.

Jayne Anne Krentz, Jayne Castle, Amanda Quick - Here's an author who's been through a lot in her career. She herself talks about her career enders and how she reinvented herself. She also speaks about writing in a no nonsense, there are no secrets, just sit your butt in the chair and write, way. She's written a few of my favorite books that I read over and over again. I think her sexual tension is some of the best written.

So, who are some of your favorite storytellers and why?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Revision Draft Done

I finished my revision of Red Hot Fairy Tale last night. I cut out 8,000 words and added in the three missing scenes. I still have another 510 words to cut as I read it in my paper draft. Making this story fit 25,000 words has been such an interesting and wonderful learning experience. I'm so glad I decided to write for this anthology call as I'm taking so much away just from the process. My paper draft is currently being spit out by the printer and I'll go over it today catching all those things that we don't catch on the computer screen as well as looking for spots I can loose another 500 words.

Why a paper draft? Well, for me, I have to do my final edit on paper as I will find mistakes. Mostly incorrect word choice that I just scan over in my most careful reading on the computer screen. Someone told me that every writer should do that, but I'm always wary of rules for "every writer". So, I'm curious do all of you do your final edit (or other edits) on paper? Or have you gotten to the point where you've trained your eyes to catch those mistakes on the screen?

Just watched pieces of a profile on Nancy Meyers (in between Little Daughter calling for me as she played in the backyard to show me various items). A woman screenwriter, producer and director who writes wonderful movies. Including one of my faves, Baby Boom. Someone who has faced a lot of rejection, including her first film, Private Benjamin, but she kept going and writing what she likes and what she thinks is funny.

Friday, January 22, 2010

When Life Gets in the Way of the Flow

So, life keeps getting in the way, I'm happily editing along and I have to stop to run the kiddos to an activity. Oh, why oh why, I cry in my head. Things are flowing. It's all coming together and I have to stop for life. Ack. And sure enough I can't get out of the book the entire time I'm driving. It's not that I'm editing, plotting, or writing in my head, it's that I'm stuck in my character's heads. They won't let me be and truthfully I don't want them to let me be. I want them to stay with me as intense as they are.

Do you have days like that? The muse is with you, your characters are living and breathing over your shoulder, and you CAN'T work. Oh, the frustration just climbs as you run you errand, make chit chat with people (some of them are friends), but you aren't really there, your stuck in your book. You race home hoping that they haven't abandoned you and in this case they haven't and you can pick up right where you left off. Whew.

Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Just last month I had a day of flow, had to run out for an entire evening, but the time I could get back to them, they had packed up and left. Oh the frustration and agony. Used to be I'd take a long break or wait for the flow to come back, but since getting serious with my writing, nope, I sit my butt in the chair and write anyway, frantically hoping that they will return.

We all have lives outside of our stories. Kids, spouses, possibly jobs, a house that won't clean itself, errands that need to be run. And most of that stuff we do happily when the flow isn't there, but when it is what do you do? The idea of hiring babysitter, or a mommy's helper, crossed my mind as I was driving for keeping the kids entertained, fed, etc. But I've a busy schedule between the two kiddos and those things can't be easily shuffled when the muse decides to pay me a visit. So, what do you do to try to keep life from interfering with the flow?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Writing the Darn Love Scenes

So, I'm deep into my edits of my Red Hot Fairy Tale, and I have to say I'm really liking my characters. As I'm revisiting them they are just growing on me more and more. He's so flipping sexy and she's spunky and fun and doesn't take sh** from the hero. Ah, the torture I'm gonna have to put them through, I almost feel sorry for them, LOL. And I've discovered, I gotta write another sex scene, sigh, the work never ends. LOL

Sometimes they just come to me and other times I can't help but think, shoot I've already had them do it do I really need to describe it again. LOL. I think I need to go read some other sexy books and look for some inspiration cause I got to the next sex scene and went, yeah, I'll take care of that later. I'm having too much fun with their sniping at each other. Plus, I'm getting to the part where the heroine finally gets to be one step ahead of the hero. LOL

Yes, I'm amused tonight. Not sure why, but I am. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Interview at Avid Readers Who Write

Elizabeth Fortin interviewed me for her blog, Avid Readers Who Write, swing on by and say hi.

Avid Readers Who Write

The Pros of Rewriting

So, I said I'd talk about another element of editing/revising today. Rewriting - when you're doing more than fixing dialogue tags, spell checking, etc. You need to be careful not to edit or revise the life out of your manuscript, but sometimes something just isn't working the way you wrote it. It could be a scene, a chapter, a whole section of the book, or even the entire book itself. What do you do when this happens?

I've had a couple of instances where this occurred and I was able to fix the problem by rewriting instead of trying to edit or revise.

My mafia romantic suspense had this occur with the beginning. I had written out the first two chapters and enrolled in a novel course. Through the pre-work the instructor had me do on character development, plot development, etc. I decided that I didn't like the first two chapters. I evaluated them, pulled out a couple of pages of dialogue and scrapped the rest. The dialogue was pulled out more for the information it gave as I ended up rewriting those dialogue lines as well. I ended up with much stronger beginning chapter than I had started with.

My YA fantasy had a similar beginning. This is one of those books of the heart that I'd been working on in fits and starts for years (before I got serious about my writing). When I settled down to finish the book, I discovered that though the basic storyline and characters would remain the same I really didn't like what I'd written. Some scenes were salvageable, but a lot of it was junked. So, I just started over from scratch, copy pasting the few scenes I felt fitted my new vision for the book.

My first NaNoWriMo, oh so many years ago, LOL, was finished and yet I hadn't hit the 50,000 word goal. So, I looked over it, and discovered I had a much better idea for the opening chapter, I wrote it, and the beginning was way stronger than it had originally been.

My space opera was written originally with a completely different plot that made it more of a long short story. When I decided to make it longer I realized I'd have to scrap the plot all together and go in a whole new direction with the same characters. I didn't even try to re-write or edit what I'd already had. I started from scratch.

I could go on and on. Kinda sad that I could go on with other examples from my own writing, but it is what it is. I've noticed a pattern in my own writing in the last couple of years. I tend to scrap my first couple of chapters a lot. And it isn't like I intend to this when I first write them. It's just what ends up happening. I have a feeling it has to do with me getting to know my characters in those first couple of chapters and seeing everything much more clearly once I've written the entire story. Suddenly, those first few chapters are not the beginning of the story anymore.

How about you? When do you know that your book or story needs more than some revising, but a full blown rewrite?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Editing or Revising The Work

Every writer seems to have their own method of revising/editing. Some revise as they write, redoing the chapter before they start fresh or going back to change something to relate to something new they wrote. Some dump out their first draft and then have various stages of revision that they go through. Others just kind of jump into revision blindly. And I know there are many more methods.

I fall into the second category. I prefer to write my first drafts fast. I've mentioned before if I don't know something I'll put a note in CAPS within the manuscript and keep going. Those are what I tackle in my first go thru which I try to do on the computer. Filling in the blanks is how I look at it. I also fix dialogue tags. Move and clarify description and action (description being my enemy). But the basics stay the same. The dialogue might be tweaked a little bit, picking a better word here and there, and pulling out back story character description dumps that were for my benefit (not the readers - gotta weave that in). Run the spell checker.

My third go thru I do on paper. I wish I could eliminate this one, but I can't. I am always catching obvious things on paper that I missed on my first round. Usually these are the wrong word types of mistakes that the spell checker didn't catch because it wasn't misspelled. This is also where I have to fix any plot holes that I've been struggling with or scenes that feel off to the story as a whole. Then off to my beta readers (this is a new thing for me).

In the past I've had multiple drafts, and multiple drafts can serve a purpose, but there's a danger in that. This danger being editing the life and heart out of your story. I've recently discovered as I was adapting a screenplay back into novel form that I'd done that to sections of the script. This script went through a tons of drafts (and I still found mistakes, word usage, etc. as I was switching it over) and through three screenwriting classes. I made many of my classmates suggested changes (the workshop approach) and now looking back, the flavor, the spunk, and the fun of so many scenes was gone. It's still a good story with good characters, but I was, I admit, a little heart broken to really analyze it as I switched it over. This little project is going to take me a lot longer than I originally thought.

But that's another story, back to my current rewrite. I just finished rewriting the first chapter of my Red Hot Fairy Tale and I'm happy with it. I was afraid that editing so soon after finishing the first draft was going to be a mistake, but being on a tight time crunch I don't get the luxury of it resting. I plan on doing at least a chapter a day to get it edited in time to send to my beta readers with still time to get it back and polished to send to the editor. As usual, I pulled out several info dumps, fixed some dialogue tags, and changed some telling to showing. Onto Chapter Two.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Research Can Be Fun

So, I sat down to get the background info I need for my Red Hot Fairy Tale. What I already knew:

  • Takes place in a major city like New York. 
  • The offices of the company are in a big high rise, a really nice high rise that is more than the company should be spending on offices. 
  • The heroine lives in a nice apartment complex within walking distance and must have a doorman. 
  • The heroine's sisters go to a boarding prep school and Ivy League college that are within a couple hours drive of the city. 
  • The company was originally located in a rural community an hour to a couple of hours outside of the city in a very pretty area. 
  • The hero is staying in a super nice hotel near the offices of the company.
  • The hero has purchased a house within two hours drive of the city that sits on a lot of wilderness.

So, I start out with trying to find the company location. I switch the city to San Francisco as I feel it will match the company better (and I know more about the surrounding area). I search business district and through wikipedia find a website profiling the Financial/Business District of San Fran. This website leads me to the perfect office complex right near the waterfront that is actually a little mini city and there's a very high end hotel right next to it (perfect for our hero's temporary home). I find an apartment complex close to the companies headquarters but it seems a little too nice for my heroine. She's practical and would have a hard time spending that much money, but then I find a second one even closer than the first (one short block away) and it's nice but not super nice. Perfect and it even says in the brochure that it has 24 hour doormen  (Yeah!). I give her father the first apartment complex I found as he is more a dreamer and likes to live beyond his means. Another crucial scene occurs in a romantic restaurant that needs to be close but not too close (scene in car negates it being too close). Low and behold a "one of the most romantic restaurants" looks to be the perfect location.

Now, outside the city I have two other crucial locations which is where my general knowledge of the area comes into play, I pick a seaside community know for the artsy, crafty, free thinking, etc. LOL for where she grew up and the company's original location. I decide to go in the different direction to locate his remote house about two hours away from the city in a very beautiful area.

The sisters are now going to Stanford, one Freshman and older in grad school (I was getting irritated with trying to find a prep boarding school that fit what I wanted, I know, I could have made one up, but I think this might actually fit the story better).

So, there you have it, my location for my story has been mapped out and I'm feeling good. I even printed up a google map that shows me all the crazy one way streets in San Fran.

Will all these street names, etc. end up in the story, probably not, but it gives me a better feel of the length of scenes as I have a lot of running back and forth between various locations.

Now onto naming...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Joy of Naming Characters

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the things I'll be doing in my rewrite is naming all my secondary characters, a few companies, and finding the perfect last name for my heroine. I'm usually pretty methodical when it comes to naming my characters. I keep a name sheet for each and every character that is assigned a name as well as three letter lists.

A letter list is where I keep track of the first letter of all the first names, last names, and first and last names. Why do I do this? Well, it started with trying to make sure that the names of different characters weren't to confusing for the reader. If you have an Andrea and Amber who are secondary characters it's easier for the reader to mix them up versus if you have an Andrea and Candace.

Now, sometimes I do want characters to have the same letter name or the names sound different enough that I don't worry if the first letter is the same.For instance, in one story I specifically named the siblings Andrew, Amber, and Ashley, because people do that and I felt it fit the character of their mother.

For years I've used baby name books to name all of my characters. Sometimes I'd just pick a name that "sounded" right as I'd thumb through various letters. Other times I'd know I wanted to use an Irish name and I wanted it to have a certain meaning like "light". This was a little difficult with the baby name books, but now we have this wonderful tool of the internet and there are so many ways to search for names now that I can search by definition, origin, first letter/last letter, etc. I still have two of my trusty name books - all highlighted and crinkled with my favorite names ready to go.

Some characters are born with their name while others try on several different names before finding the one that fits. When I'm writing I usually know all of my MCs characters name and any heavy duty secondary character names before I write the first chapter. Other secondary characters are named on the go. If a scene is flying along I'll just put in NAME or what they are to remind myself later on to look up a name for that character. If the scene isn't flying, I'll pull out my trust baby name book and flip to a specific letter and pick a name that will work for the character.

For RHFT, I knew very clearly that I wanted my heroes name to mean something specific, so I searched for names that meant beast or other wild animals. If you want to search for names by a certain category here's a great site. It was not as easy as I thought it would be. First, I didn't like the names that I found so I grew more and more frustrated as I expanded the search. But then I found one name that was perfect - Leandre. It's French and means lion. I knew instantly this was his last name. So, onto finding a first name to go along with it. Another fruitless search until I thought about my character's core personality and searched warriors/defenders. And there it was - Alexander - definition "defender of mankind."

Alexander Leandre was born. Doesn't the name just flow. :-)

I started my search on my heroine, actually started and stopped as I was so frustrated with my hero, again I searched by meaning - beauty. I looked and looked and looked. I didn't particularly like a specific name. Some were possibilities and I noted them down, but it just didn't seem right. I felt that her name had to mean beauty as it had in the original fairy tale. My first choice was Bella, but there's a very famous Bella right now in popular fiction and I didn't want the same name. I didn't even consider Belle, since Disney had already used it, but when I looked up the original title of the fairy tale, low and behold, La Belle. So, Belle was born.

Can we guess what fairy tale I adapted? LOL

Friday, January 15, 2010

First Draft Done

Sorry, I haven't been here in a couple of days, I've been cramming on finishing up the first draft of my Red Hot Fairy Tale. When I get close to the end, I can't think of or really do anything else as it just takes control. I just wrote the final sentence, WOO HOO!!!, it always feels good to finish up that first draft. I'm already anxious to go back and implement some things that I noted while working (and didn't allow myself to go back and rewrite). But I'm gonna let it sit for at least today, LOL, I've got two weeks to polish it up to get it to Samhain by the deadline.

So, to pose a question, what do you do in preparation of polishing and fixing a first draft? My current plan is to read a couple of my fave books to study how the authors wrote certain types of descriptive passages before I go back in and fix those parts. Then I'll do a read through to look for the plot holes. I know they are there, but I'll need the overall picture to catch them and fill them in.

Also, names, man I gotta fix a lot of names. Usually, I know most of my characters names before I start to write or I take a break to research names while I write, but with this one I didn't want to take the time since I was working against a deadline, so after naming my MCs I just jumped right in and there are lots of DRIVER, LAWYER, DOORMAN, SISTER, etc. all of whom need to have a name. Some characters are more important than others and those are the ones I'll be spending time trying to figure out a name that suits them and the story.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing to A Target Market

So, as some of you may know I am currently writing a novella to a targeted market. I found an anthology call with an e-publisher and decided to try my hand at it. So far it has been an interesting and fun experience. I spent a day researching the subject matter and began to panic as I went through fairy tale after fairy tale trying to find something that was familiar, but not to famous. I did find one and began working on the idea in my head, but another idea based on a super famous fairy tale just kept butting in and insisting that I listen to it. I finally gave up that night and allowed her to tell me her story and the hero to tell me his (I didn't get a lot of sleep that night as they would not shut up). What's funny is I still fought it the next morning. I kept insisting that I didn't want to do a famous fairy tale, but this time it was my hero that wouldn't shut up. He wanted his story told. I'm now almost at the required word count though still have several key scenes to write to finish it up. I'm glad as I know the beginning was filled with a lot of fluff and back story so I can edit that and condense it without fear of going below the minimum word count requirement.

So, have any of you produced to a direct idea? Was it to a particular publisher that you wished to be published by? Was it to a contest? A short story or anthology call? How did it go?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Getting Back On The Horse

So, how do you get back on the horse so to speak? This week hasn't been the most consistent, with family visiting, getting back into a schedule after the holidays, and an illness striking the house for a couple of days, all of those things (or excuses LOL) added up to a couple days of not meeting my word count goals.

Today I got caught up while grandpa took big daughter to a movie and grandma played with little daughter. This gave me a big block of time that I could sit and focus and thankfully I followed through and did write instead of the usual procrastination activities.

If you find yourself behind, do you just give up and let the pattern continue? Do you add a little bit to each day to get caught up eventually? Do you shake off those bad days and just start fresh? Do you do a marathon session to make up the time lost?

In the past, I've either used it as an excuse to throw up my hands and give up for an extended period of time, or start fresh with new goals or deadlines for myself, or do a marathon session. Depended on where I was mentally in my writing habits at the time and also just how far behind I found myself before I got back on the horse.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flus, Colds, and Viruses Oh My!

So, what do you do when those germs and viruses hit your home? Do you take time off from your writing or do you shoulder through the icky feeling to get those words on paper?

Ours started yesterday at one in the morning when little daughter woke up throwing up. Needless to say a very long night for me. Thankfully she was on the mend by morning and seemed pretty well recovered by the late evening. I was able to get a bit of writing done while she slept for several hours during the afternoon and also while sitting with her and watching My Little Pony over and over again. :-)

But today I woke up with a sore throat and upset stomach. Thankfully it hasn't progressed past that, but I'm worried about tomorrow. I got a lot done on my nonfiction project today as it didn't really require a lot of creative thinking, but so far I haven't even attempted to work on my Red Hot Fairy Tale.

Crossing fingers and knocking on wood that tomorrow everyone in the house is back to feeling normal, but I'm also preparing for the fact that it could be the exact opposite.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Murder, She Wrote

So, who here remembers the classic writer's show Murder, She Wrote starring Ms. Angela Lansbury? The show was on from 1984-1996 and several TV movies followed in 1997-2003. I grew up on Murder, She Wrote (Father Dowling Mysteries followed as a close second in my families favorite TV shows to watch together).

For those that never watched, MSW featured the mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher who solved a murder once a week. The joke became that it probably wasn't good to consider Jessica as a friend, because you would either be murdered or accused of committing a murder and Jessica would rush in to solve the crime. I recently rewatched the final seasons of MSW on Netflix and was quickly sucked into the various cases that Jessica solved. Some of my favorite episodes revolved around her trying to meet a deadline for a book, either to write or revise, and someone getting knocked off and completely interrupting her schedule. :-)

What about you? What's your favorite TV show or movie that features a writer as the protagonist?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Keeping on Track

So, how is everyone doing with their writing goals? Are you sticking to each of them or a couple of them?

I'm doing good with my main goal. I missed my writing time yesterday and it bugged me all day. Even though I scheduled missed days into my writing goals (a tip I learned this year) I couldn't stop thinking about it. I got on a couple of times to start it, but had things (life, LOL) pull me away. I feel better as I got my daily word goal today so am back on track.

But I'm having a much harder time with my secondary projects goals. It's not that I'm not working on it. I have, but it's much more sporadic, like once a week, and that is not enough according to my projecting finish date. It bugs me when I think about it. So, I'm thinking I'm going to need to restructure this goal or come up with some sort of incentive to really make me put in my daily page goals with this one.

My nonfiction goals haven't been as steady or hit and miss. I took a couple of days off in a row, but besides that I've stayed steady and got several of my to dos checked off which felt really good as they were the ones I was worrying over.

So far in my journey of figuring out my best schedule I've discovered that writing first thing in the morning works for me with either one of my fiction goals and again late in the evening after DDs are in bed (but not all of it as that keeps me up too late). For the nonfiction, I find I do better if I get a little done here and there during the day as I'm doing some other task, like waiting for dinner to finish cooking, while DDs are doing school work where they don't need my assistance, etc.

So, have you figured out a schedule of sorts that helps you reach those writing goals you set?

Oh, and I'm excited to say I was given my first blogger award today. Thank you to Kristi at Random Acts of Writing for her generous words and spirit. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sharing the Joy

Another element of finding others who share in your passion - people that can understand your steps forward and triumphs. Only another writer can really understand the huge step sending out your first query is, getting your first short story accepted in a magazine, getting an article or column in your local paper, getting a partial request from an agent, etc.

They get it. Someone who shares your passion knows the work that it takes for each step that you accomplish. They get excited with and for you when you let them in on your good news.

On my first partial request from an agent, I immediatly emailed a writer friend before I told anyone else, why? Because I knew she would get it. She would understand what it means. I then told my husband, LOL, and he congratulated me, but didn't really understand what that meant.

Keep those people around you that can not only share and help you through the struggles, but that can pat you on the back and say good job when you email off that query or can jump up and down with you when you get that request or publication. The pat on the back and the jumping up and down can be done over the 'net too. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Talking With Other Writers

I had an interesting conversation with several other homeschooling moms today. The conversation revolved around the things that we tend to worry about and surprise, surprise, we tend to worry about much of the same stuff. You know it's good to talk to others who participate in an activity similar to your own not only for a sense of not being completely and utterly alone, but also because you begin to realize that others have gone through what you're going through and survived.

Whether you're the person making assurances to someone else or that person is making assurances to you, it's a relief to know that at least one other person has found "this" challenging, difficult, hard, etc. This can apply to all areas of your life whether it's being a parent, a homeschooler (referencing what brought this topic up), or as a writer.

Talking to someone who has been through something you are currently struggling with can give you the fortitude to carry on. Or it can show you that it really isn't something to struggle through, but might be kinda funny. For instance, we were discussing cram days, the days in which we try to cram all the work we forgot to get done into one or two days before we have to meet with our CT (something required for those that homeschool through a charter school). This has become a joke between myself and several other families I know. Don't call, try to schedule a play date, or anything else, because I (and my daughter) will be cramming on these days every month.

On the writing end, how many of you have started novels, decided they were awful, got a bright new shiny idea, ditched the awful novel idea and started the new novel idea to then discover that one is just as bad as the first one, then rinse and repeat however many times you can take it?

A lot of you I would guess (based on the number of writers that have admitted it to me). I was one of those as well. Imagine my surprise when I found out this was a common writerly infliction and has a single cure - keep writing that "awful" idea. It isn't nearly as bad as you think. There are various names to describe this issue - I like to call it the bright and shiny new idea problem. Learning that others had this same problem is what finally gave me the tools to work around it. How did I learn others had this problem, I read about it in an article, then I went hunting online and sure enough there were plenty of writers talking about the "this sucks" syndrome and the "shiny new idea" syndrome. Why were these writers published even though they had the same problem? Because they refused to stop and let those two syndromes take hold of them.

What would have happened if I hadn't been able to search out others who shared my passion and learned of their experiences? Would I still be writing the first three chapters of novel after novel? I can hope not, that maybe I would have somehow gotten past it, but who knows.

Reach out to other people that share your passion whether you do it online or in person doesn't really matter. The reaching out and connecting does.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Finding Anthology Calls

Someone asked how I find anthology calls and other submission calls, so I thought I'd share how I found the ones I am planning on submitting to. Basically, the old fashioned way, I looked up each publisher's submission guidelines and found them listed there. I have in the past seen calls listed on various writers blogs, but honestly I didn't save them because at the time I wasn't too interested. Now I am. If you know of any easier ways to find out about submission and anthology calls from legitimate publishers (a concern expressed by one of my blog readers) I would love to know about them.

I do know of one email list, the Creative Writing Opportunities Group, that posts submission calls. I'm not sure if they vet the calls so it is always wise to double check every publisher you consider submitting to if you have not already heard about them.

Here are the ones that I learned of in my recent search of romance publishers (I freely admit that I have just started looking and there are many publishers I haven't checked yet):

Samhain Publishing - Anthology calls for Red Hot Fairy Tales and Steampunk Romance.
The Wild Rose Press - Their Crimson Rose line is calling for "Jewels of the Night" romantic suspense novellas and novels that feature a blue diamond.
Cobblestone Press, LLC - Seasonal submissions of erotica for Octoberfest 2010, Naughty November 2010, 12 Days of Christmas 2010.
Red Rose Publishing - Holiday themed romances and erotica.

Do you know of any anthology or submission calls? Please post them in the comments section.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Anthology Calls

This year I'm trying something completely different with my writing. I've always written where the muse took me. In the last couple of years I've learned to see a project through even as the muse went on vacation and taunted me, but I always started with the muse.

I was double checking the submission guidelines for an e-publisher that I was interested in possibly submitting a WIP to and I read over a call for submissions for an anthology they are putting together. I've seen them in the past, but usually didn't pay very much attention if I didn't already have something written along those lines. But for some reason this time I stopped and read over the guidelines carefully and wondered about writing something specifically for this anthology. I then did what I do best, I started researching. I pulled up other publishers website looking for other "calls for submission" and I actually found several that had other anthology or novella calls. All of which are e-publishers. I haven't checked out every publisher, but the few print one's I looked at didn't have any such calls on their submissions pages.

I was intrigued with the idea. What if I wrote something specifically for a particular publisher and submission call and had to make that deadline (they are all in the first couple of months of 2010)? I can't wait for the muse to saunter into my office. It will take a firm commitment from me to meet the word count goals each day that I will need to meet the deadline. It's way too easy to miss self-imposed deadlines, at least for me.

I'm already thinking up alternative publishers to submit to just in case the story isn't exactly what the editor is looking for in the anthology.

How about any of you? Have you written a story, novella, or novel strictly for a certain submission call? Would you want to? Would you not want to?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking Forward Into a Year of a Writer

Most of the writers I know are either posting their 2010 Goals (we don't call them resolutions as those are too easy to break) or are choosing to not set any for the upcoming year. A few like me, haven't really finalized our goals for the year. I have some concrete ones and some vague ones. If you're looking on how to set realistic writer goals or have set goals in the past, but always found you ended up giving up on them I would highly suggest you stop by Dean Wesley Smith's Blog and start at Motivation #1 and work your way forward. He actually has practical suggestions for actually reaching your goals instead of just those hazy thoughts or if you're like me, setting completely unrealistic goals which you will not be able to meet and then you get discouraged because you didn't meet them. If you're looking to take your writing (or even life) to the next level I'd suggest swinging by Bob Mayer's Warrior Writer website and check out one of his online or onsite workshops. I just finished his online one and wow the things you will learn about yourself.

So, here is a bit about my goals. I have been working on figuring out exactly how many words (pages) I can write in an hour. Having this knowledge will allow me to set a very realistic goal for my finished works for 2010. But here is a snapshot of what I plan to complete:
  • Red Hot Fairy Tale for an anthology call is due February 1st. I am 25% complete on that so am way ahead of my word count goals of hitting 1,000 words a day by Jan. 20th. 
  • Finish Space Opera by March. I had originally planned on completing it now, but as in the past I set an unrealistic goal. I will now do 500 words a day and have the first draft done by Feb. and the second draft critiqued and edited by March. 
  • Mafia Romantic Suspense. I have been playing around too much on this one (wasting time). As soon as Red Hot Fairy Tale is done, I will switch half of my 500 words a day time to cleaning up the plot holes and filling in the blanks to have it ready to be critiqued and edited by March. 
  • YA Fantasy is currently finishing up one round of critiques and I am now sending it out for a second round of critiques to see if the same problems are pointed out (I have a feeling they will be LOL). As soon as I get those back I plan on implementing the fixes and submitting to publishers. Plan to do this by mid-Feb. I will also use my 500 words a day from the Red Hot Fairy Tale for this clean up. 
  • will be launched within the next 60 days. I have written down a to do list on the exact things I have to fix and write up for the site to launch. I spend about an hour a day on each task (sometimes more depending on how much I am home).
At Dean's suggestion, I have factored in missed days and life just getting in the way in my goal setting. None of these projects HAVE to be worked on all seven days in a week. Which allows me to stagger some of them.

This is where my writing goals get fuzzy. I have some other anthology calls that I am thinking of writing and submitting to. This is something new I am trying out for 2010. I have always been a where the muse takes me kind of writer, but I've decided to try to write to a submission call that has a set deadline and a set format for the types of stories. The different submission calls are in different genres so it will also stretch me as a writer as I figure out which genre I fit into best.  I have other WIPs in various stages sitting in the background that I can finish up for later in the year. I just haven't sat down to figure out if I will pull out the WIPs or stick with new things.

So, how is your goal setting going? Are you making sure that you are setting realistic goals that can help you get closer to your dreams? Are you making time and factoring in life, illness, loss of job, etc. that could interfere with your goals? Do you have plans set up to not allow those issues to derail you from your dreams?