Monday, February 27, 2012

The Key to Success

Never give up.

I just watched the movie Hoodwinked Too with my kids. Was it as good as the first? Not hardly, but there is a priceless quote I had to share with you.

"A person cannot fail without giving up."

Simple. Don't give up. If you want to get published, write twenty books, see your name on a cover...don't give up. Giving up is the first step to failure. As long as you're working on your goal, you're in the right direction! Each word you write, each conversation you type, they're all getting you one step closer to your dream.

Dream big, set goals, and never give up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Voice Coach...

Every time my favorite singing show comes on...I have to post about it. Why? Because it relates SO much to writing. And it's just awesome.

I absolutely love this show. It's filled with wonderful singers that are judged purely on their voice during the blind auditions. Never seen it? You should. The contestants sing to four judges who have their backs to the singer. The contestant is judged on their voice and if the judge wants them on their team, they push their button and turn around.

I love it when more than one judge wants the singer on their team. When this happens, the decision is left to the singer to decide on their coach.

So, what does this have to do with writing? First of all, your work is based on your voice! Imagine the whole query process as a chance for you to put your voice out there to win a coach from your top options. So many times a query comes down to concept, writing, execution, and most of all the VOICE! 

If you don't have a unique and appealing voice, you'll never get an agent to turn their head. Just like a singer on this show will never get a judge to turn their chair if they don't have the voice.

Which is why you want to make sure you are giving your very best. You need to do your work, research, rewrites, put your manuscript through all you have...twice, three times, or six (like the one I'm querying) and then you can try to get a coach.

One thing I didn't focus on last time I posted about this show, that I want to emphasize this time, is the coach. These aren't just people who kind of know the writing market. Yes, they're people just like all us, but they really know their stuff. Most agents go through extensive internships before even becoming an agent. They know what will sell, how to make it even better, how to get an editor, and which publishers to target. 

Just like the experienced and well-known singing coaches on The Voice, literary agents are experienced and ready to do the work for you if they like your stuff. So give them your best. Make your voice stand out. Get your work in their hands and let them be your coach!

Remember, whether it's singing or writing, it's business. Be respectful and remember that not every coach is right for every person. Sometimes the singers on The Voice are great singers, but they just don't connect with any of the judges. If your query goes unnoticed, it might be that it's just not ready. But it could be that it's just not the right fit for that agent. 

Work on your voice and be willing to work for your coach!

Good luck :)

Anyone else querying? It's a long, slow process...but we can go through it together! You never know, you might be one of the lucky ones that gets more than one coach that want you. And then you get to pick!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Nothing says love like...

Flowers? A card? A box of chocolates? What says love to you?

I realize this post is late for being a lovey dovey Valentine's Day post, but I've been busy doing heart shaped hair-do's, buying Valentine's gifts, making homemade bread, making Valentine's dessert, and making homemade heart shaped pizza's. It was a good day but I'm ready to do nothing tomorrow.

The pizza's were a success. The dessert? Well, let's just say when your sister tells you to pour a "thing" of chocolate syrup on top, it might be a good idea to clarify what a "thing" is. Or you could end up pouring a whole 24 ounce bottle of Hershey's syrup when all you really needed was an 8 ounce can. Yeah, it was rich my!

Anyway, back to what says love to you. Personally, I don't want flowers or a box of chocolates. If any of you remember my sugar of choice, it's fruity candy. And as far as flowers go? Keep em. They die and I'd rather use the money for something else.

Here's the real question. What would your character's prefer? Going through each in my head, Emmarie wouldn't mind flowers, Brielle would love a doughnut or a certain lamp, Triz would kill for a box of permanent markers, and Mella would like a quiet picnic by the lake with Ev. 

Oh, and my upcoming MC (no name yet) would love a binder and some mechanical pencils. That has love written all over it right? Totally!


Whatever says love to you, I hope you got it today.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Email Stress

In which I vent about my email for a minute in hopes that someone else has the same problem and can give me some advice. Maybe I'm not as tech savvy as I thought.

After my first batch of queries, I checked the emails in my sent box to make sure they were formatted right. They weren't. Despite the fact that I copied it from my document, pasted it to my email, and double checked it before I sent it, the font size was all over the place. And one of my sentences was cut in the middle and put on the next line. 

Not to mention that my indentations on the pasted pages below the query were all over the place. If the format of my email shows anything about my editing skills, I'm doomed! 

I tried something different in this next batch of queries and after checking it, I realized it did the same thing. Gah! I could be ruined.

But for all its worth, I want to reassure everyone that I do know how to format a query and manuscript. Apparently I need lessons in "perfecting the email 101."

Thanks for letting me vent! Has anyone had else had this problem?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A cluttered home...

My house is small. And thanks to the housing market, our two year plan is prolonged for an undefined period. We're going on five years and will probably be here for at least three more. 

What's the biggest problem? Space. See, we only have 970 sq ft to work with. And now that our fifth child's on the way...let's just say we have to get creative. 

Not to mention we have to get rid of anything that isn't necessary! We just said goodbye to the entertainment center that held many treasures behind its closed doors. Where did all those treasures go? Either to a different spot in our house or out of the house completely. 

What does this have to do with writing?

Let's say our book should only be 970 sq ft...or 70-80,o00 words max. So, what if it's over that? We have to dejunk and get rid of the unnecessary. Even if our manuscript isn't that long, each word needs to be there for a reason. Each scene needs to be completely essential to moving the plot along.

And if it doesn't, that's where the reader will wade through slowly and get stuck. Just like a cluttered area in a house. 

Cut the clutter. Get rid of the junk. Create a space that is easy to walk (read) through and will be enjoyable :)

Do you have a hard time cutting the junk during revisions?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Musings about...well myself.

Is that selfish? Like I just announced that I'm going to spend a post talking about myself and I think you all should read it? Okay, probably sounded like that. Here's my thought process.

Since I started querying (oh last night around midnight), I had to choose something to keep myself busy. And even now that I've got the perfect thing, I still check my email every five minutes. I know. Pathetic. I swear I'm not that impatient. Just excited about the possibilities.

Right after I finished writing Smoke and Ashes (the book I'm querying) in Jan 2010, I decided to finish another book I had started. So I did. I finished it in a month or two. And then, pretty sure I just tucked it away so I could focus on revisions for the first book.

Well, yesterday I decided to get that second book out. It's called Dael. And after reading through the first few chapters, I instantly fell back in love with it! 

And then I remembered an interview my friend did of me while I was writing that book. Here is my favorite question and answer (the pictures weren't in the original post...but I couldn't help myself).

Random writing question: If your current main character were to run into Edward Cullen at school, how would they react?

They pass each other by the back window and Mella stops. Edward nearly runs into her, distracted by what she's thinking.

Edward: "How do you know I want to eat you?"

Mella: "How do you know I know you want to eat me?"

Edward: "Uh, I don't."

Mella: "Wait. You want to eat me?"

Edward: "I need to go."

Sun comes out and the diamond skin sends a million sparkles through the air.

Mella: "Well, that's a new one. Does that attract the girls or scare them away?"

Edward: "Uh..."

Mella: "No worries. It has no affect on me."

Edward goes to take a step past Mella but he stops when he sees the look on her face. She's staring at his eyes.

Mella: "Nice eyes. I've seen better, though. Just sayin'."

Mella struts away and never looks back.

Love it! I love my characters in this book. If you want to read the full interview, check it out here on Chantele Sedgwick's blog.

And that got me thinking about other things I've written, mostly for Campaigner challenges through Rachael Harrie's blog.

I love the writing challenges she issues. That's the main reason I join the group. So, if you want my three favorite pieces of flash fiction from this last campaign, here they are.

Nowhere to Hide.


Super Ninja Imago.

And in case you're wondering more about the Platform-Building Campaign, Rach is about to launch the fourth one soon! 

And if you want an embarrassing High School story I told in Shallee McArthur's teen tales. Go here. Yes, it applies to writing. I promise :)

See, I didn't only talk about myself. All three of those fabulous ladies are worth following if you don't yet! 

Have you ever gone back to an old WIP and fallen in love with it that quickly? Have you ever tried to write a flash fiction? How about a flash fiction with crazy requirements like made up words and specific details?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baby Steps.

No, this isn't about real babies...even though that is certainly on my mind. I just wanted to talk about ways to achieve goals.

The key, for me, it to set small goals. Yes, I'd like to have an agent. And I'd love all my books to reach perfection without several revisions, but that's not realistic.

So, set small goals. Try to write so many words or chapters each week. If it doesn't work, lower the goal and work toward that. Keeping a goal in mind will help you work toward something. Which is better than working toward nothing and just hoping something gets done.

When you set small goals and achieve them, it will give you more motivation to set other goals. And along the way, you'll be closer to your end goal than you ever thought you would! 

It's rare for a soccer goalie to score a point for their team. But if they set the ball rolling and give it direction, the ball will make it from one point to another until it smashes the net on the other side.

Make realistic goals. Achieve those goals. And find yourself closer to your dreams then you ever thought possible! 

What goals are you tackling? Anything that could be more achievable through smaller goals?