Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Wild Rose Press is Five-Years-Old

The Wild Rose Press is blowing out five candles today. Congratulations to all the people who've made this e-publisher a success, and I'm kinda proud to be a small part of it.

Join the celebration by going to one of the following links:
Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

M-O-T-I-V-A-T-E, Find Out What it Means to Me

Lately, the motivation to write has been lacking, which is frustrating, to say the least.  I have a plot in mind.  I have characters who are coming alive in my mind.  But lately, we're all in a waiting pattern, and life is a busy airport.  Between my day job as a teacher with all its necessary planning, grading, meeting, and lessons, my counseling internship with its daily meetings and paperwork, my home responsibilties (clean clothes and dishes are so overrated), my motherly duties (food prep, homework guru, storyteller, calendar checker, and so many other crazy tasks I never saw on the job description), and my husband would like to sit down with his wife at least once a day.  So what goes by the wayside?  Yep, you guessed it, the writing time.

Scott Eagan tried to enforce the idea that the writers who make it are the ones that make writing a priority.  They're the ones that make it clear to their friends and family how important writing is to them.  He even suggested setting aside at least three hours each day for writing.  Three hours?  I don't have three hours to rub together (or something like that).  I'm time poor currently.

So how do we stay motivated?  How do we keep moving forward on the WIP without feeling like we're stealing time from so many other important things?  What are your best time management tips?  What works for you?  I'm interested to know.

Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Speakin' the Lingo

A funny thing happens when you're a middle school teacher.  No matter how old you get, you always seem to know the current slang.  You can't help it because it's everywhere, everyday.

Today I heard a term I'd never heard before, but it rolled off the kids' tongues like a loose grape, and my vocabulary was expanded.  The term is Screamo and refers to a type of music.  Turns out though, I just hadn't been hanging with the "wrong" crowds because Screamo has been around since the 1990's.  It's described as using "typical rock instrumentation, but is notable for its brief compositions, chaotic execution, and screaming vocals. It has been described, by music journalist Jason Heller, as 'graft[ing] spastic intensity to wilfully experimental dissonance and dynamics,' indicating a kinship with noise rock."

So what does all this have to do with the price of gas?  Absolutely nothing (and don't get me started on the price of gas), but it does bring to mind an important aspect of writing--voice.  See, music is a great place to begin to understand how voice works in writing, and how writers develop their own distinctive voices.  I don't know if I'd start with Screamo necessarily, but whatever works, right?

For a class assignment a few years ago, I had my students listen to different artists singing the same song.  Believe it or not, there are quite a few renditions of Billie Jean (first introduced my the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson).  And by listening to the other versions, I was able for the first time to begin to grasp the idea of voice in writing.  You see, Michael Jackson has a very distinctive singing style that is different from a version of Billie Jean sung by Chris Cornell, former lead singer of Soundgarden, which is different from a version sung by Tony Bennett (Yes, that Tony Bennett).  Obviously, many things about the songs are the same, but you would never mistake who was singing a particular version because their voices and styles are so distinct.  You can find versions of all three on

So, the next time you're trying to stay true to your own voice, don't worry about whether or not you've got the correct lingo, just know that you have a distinctive way to say things, and that's okay.  Will everybody like your voice?  Afraid not, but if you create a distinctive enough style, those that do will hopefully crave it again and again.

Have you figured out your writing voice yet?  It's an ever evolving process for me, but I can see a huge difference between my early work and my short story, Into the Fire.  And, maybe an occasional middle school slang word or phrase might slip in, but only when the scene would be ruined without a loud, screaming, emotional (Screamo) kinda vibe.

Happy Writing!

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Thick Is Your Skin?

I finished my edits on Into the Fire and sent them off to my editor.  Wow, I always imagined using those words, but the reality is way better.

Of course, within a day of this mood-elevating event, I received another dreaded rejection for a paranormal story pitch for Harlequin, and drew a relatively realistic conclusion that I didn't place in another contest.  Even with all the good things that have been happening lately, these rejections still hit me hard.  I literally wanted to cry because it brought up all my fears of not being able to make my writing more than a hobby.  I want to make it a career, and I thought I was on a roll.

BUT, something is different.  When I received a rejection before, it took me weeks to recover, to want to write again, but this time I couldn't wait to get back in front of my latest WIP.  What was the difference?  Has my skin grown thicker?  Actually, the truth of what it means to be a career writer hit me.  One acceptance doesn't mean I'll never have to feel the sting of rejection again, but it does mean that a rejection doesn't have nearly the power over me that it used to.

I've written about rejection quite a bit on this blog, mostly because I am early in my career, and I know it will be a concern to me for a long while to come, so that's why I refuse to allow a rejection to keep me from writing.  The true key to a long-term writing presence is not acceptance after acceptance.  It is persistence in the face of rejection.

So is rejection getting you down?  Are you thinking of throwing up your hands and giving up?  What keeps you going?

Happy Writing!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Editing is Not a Quick Process

So, I'm editing my manuscript right now and figuring out how to use track changes all over again.  It has been a slow process because I'm re-reading, blushing at my obvious errors, and making more changes as I go.  As the process got more and more tedious, I was tempted to just throw my hands up, accept all the changes, and send it back to my editor.  The truth is though, the perfectionist in me wouldn't let me do something like that.  But today, I read a blog by one of the Wild Rose Press editors at and it became clear that there are authors who do exactly what I was tempted to do and send back the manuscript the next day.  Unfortunately, this sends the wrong message to the editor who worked so hard to go through the manuscript, trying to make it publishable.  The authors who did this though argued that they needed to get their books out as quickly as possible, and it takes months to actually publish, even online.  Yet, if your goal is to build an audience, wouldn't the best possible product, one that the author really cared enough to make as perfect as possible, be a manuscript that had been gone over several times.  As the editor from Wild Rose Press expressed--it's not a fast food kind of process.

What do you think though?  Is a quick publication worth a rush on the editing?  Is there a hard and fast rule when it comes to quality?  I'd be interested in what you think.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Mysterious XXXX

Ever been writing, words flowing on the page easily, when you come to a spot in the piece where the details get fuzzy, and you're not quite clear what you want to write, right there?  Maybe it's a name or a description, or just something that catches you off guard, and everything comes to a halt.  What do you do?  Do you stop and work it out or go to a source to research, breaking your momentum, but getting everything just right?

I'm going to let you in on my little secret.  Now, I didn't come up with this on my own.  I saw it in another author's writer tips, but it has served me well.

Here it is:  I don't stop for those time-stealers, and I don't waste time racking my brain for what to put there.  I use XXXX to mark the place, so I can come back to it later, and I keep moving forward.  But anyone who reads my draft and doesn't know what this is about might get the wrong idea, thinking that maybe the ring finger on my left hand sticks sometimes.  It doesn't, in case you were wondering.

When I read about this originally, I was skeptical.  I mean, shouldn't you try to get everything right the first time through, so that rewriting will be easier later?  Yes and no.  For me, if I tried to get it just right on the first draft, I would never write the words, "The End."  I have finished four drafts, and in my most recent ones, I used this technique.  Needless to say, they went much quicker, and I stuck with them more consistently.

And the funny thing was, when I did my document search, using XXXX as the search item, by the time I got back to that particular spot, my brain had often worked out what had tripped me up before, and the creative juices flowed to create a solution to my previous problem.

So, how about you?  How do you handle the dreaded halt in the flow of your thoughts?  Do you do something similar, or do you have to get it right in the moment before you can move on?

Happy Writing!

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chasing Trends

I'm sure there have always been trends, but I think after the recent vampire craze, writers are convinced that if they can just write a book that follows the latest trend, they'll get published.  The latest trend:  YA (young adult). Some authors have been trying to write the next best YA, even though they've never actually read one.  I have met authors who are truly writing YA and have been long before the supposed trend started (Hi, Amy), but others see it as what agents and editors want, so they write a story with a main character who's in high school and dealing with a whole bunch of angsty things.  Surely that's all it takes to write a great YA?  But, two things are wrong with this theory:  first, YA is not just a regular story with younger characters, and second, by the time a writing trend becomes a trend, it's on its way out.

YA's are about the characters and stories, but they're also about the voice, the character mindset, and so many other things that are hard to nail down.  You can't dress up an adult romance in Abercrombie and call it a YA.

Also, by the time you grasp the trend, the publising world will be moving on to the next one.  Vampires-OUT, Werewolves-OUT, Shapeshifters-OUT, Zombies-still a little hot but soon to be OUT!  Does that mean if you write vampire, werewolves, or yellow, polka-dotted shapeshifting unicorns, that you'll never find a publisher?  Not necessarily.

If you want to get published, write the best book YOU can, no matter the trends.  Either you'll chance into the next trend, or someone will recognize the love and attention you put into the story you cared enough to write well.  The only trend you should follow is your own, oh, and the yellow, polka-dotted shapeshifting unicorns.

Happy Writing!

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Failures Have Served Me Well

I LOVE Top Chef, probably to an obsessive degree.  My children know it as "Mommy's Show."  But, due to circumstances beyond my control, I didn't get to see the finale until yesterday (thank you, DVR).  I won't give anything away, but one thing Richard Blais, one of the final competitors, said toward the beginning of the show stuck with me.  He said, "My failures have served me well."

Let me give a quick history, so you can understand where I'm going with this.  You see, he competed on the show once before.  This season was an Allstars show, and the competitors were all the great contestants who didn't win the title of Top Chef during their seasons.  Hands down, Richard was the favorite to win during his season, but, in his words, "choked."

But, rather than go in with the attitude that he had to redeem himself (although there was a little bit of that), he really tried to focus on cooking his food, his way, and admitted losing the first time had given him an insight that his other competitors didn't have.  He'd had an "epic fail" the others hadn't, and his drive and focus were unwavering this time around.

So, have your failures served you well?  Mine have, and they still do.  I wrote a manuscript that nobody but my mom liked.  I've entered contests where I didn't even come close to finaling.  I've been rejected quite a few times, by agents and editors.  But from each of these experiences, I learned something and grew as a writer.  I know my failures aren't over.  There will be many more, but my attitude toward them has changed.

In this month's RWR, J. R. Ward discusses something similar.  She is open and honest about how devastating it was when her publisher dropped her years ago.  It felt like the end of the world, and she tells about crying in the parking lot of Whole Foods.  But she didn't stay down.  She started writing The Black Dagger Brotherhood series to do something new and different--to reinvent herself.  It was perfect timing and great writing.  Without a doubt, you probably know the rest of the story.  She is now Bestselling Author J. R. Ward.

So what does this mean for you and me?  How can we learn from our failures?  Start small.  Find someone you trust to read your work.  Let them give an honest criticism, and get ready for the feeling of failure.  But don't let it discourage.  Let it encourage.  Sure, there will be things to fix, but if you really are trying for a writing career, now you're one step closer because you've learned something about the craft of writing.  Rather than shut yourself off from failure, embrace it.  Find the kernal of goodness in what didn't work with your writing, and make it better.

Agents and editors want to see your best work, but in the end, it's all subjective, so the more eyes that see your writing before you send it out, the better you'll be able to weather a few problems along the way and make your story the best it can possibly be.

Happy Writing!

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