Monday, April 30, 2012

Special Blog Guest Chelsey Emmelhainz

When my acquiring editor left my publisher, I worried that whoever I got would be freaked out by my (**cough**) steamy writing and crazy sense of humor. I was told many nice things about Chelsey, but the most important one that stuck out was how she had a great sense of humor. Whew! That helped calm me more than anything. And they were so right. So please welcome Chelsey Emmelhainz, Editorial Assistant, Avon, HarperCollins Publishers.

Let's start off with the usual question. So tell us a little about your background? 
I initially went to school to become a journalist, but I always knew I loved fiction too much to pursue it seriously. Eventually I relented and accepted my fate: I was an English major, through and through. Several years, hundreds of books, and 2000 miles later, I found myself in New York working for HarperCollins. Though romance was not an area I saw myself in, I quickly realized that it was a natural fit and am proud to claim it as my genre today.

 

English major. Sounds like a perfect fit to me.  Is there any type of story you're hoping to find but not seeing in your submissions?Here are a couple: A sweet, upbeat sports romance; a nerdy-girl-gets-hot-(and secretly adorable nerdy) guy story; and a regency twins tale. Keep an eye on www.avonimpulse.com where we’ll be updating our submission “wish list” with our latest wants!

Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned the website. Certainly everyone needs to visit. You can submit your completed manuscript on the website. Easy-peasy. Well, sorta. Speaking of website, how often do you select manuscripts from the "slush pile"?
The best part of working for Avon Impulse is the ever-present possibility of finding an undiscovered gem. We’re reading submissions every day, so there’s always a chance that we’ll find one that we can’t live without!

Hey, she dodged that one like a pro. :-) I will remind everyone that I was fortunate in being Avon Impulses's first slush pile find. The angels were looking down on me that day. Next question is, while reading a manuscript, how long does it usually take before you know whether or not you want to request the full? Why?
For me, I can usually tell within the first ten pages. While we may not want to judge a book by its cover, I can generally tell fairly quickly whether or not the writing is clicking. My advice to authors? Grab ‘em early and really showcase your writing!

Such great advice. And what do you consider the most important qualities of an author?
A good attitude and a great sense of humor. Believe it or not, I find that those two qualities come through strongly in your writing. Plus, they’re essential to handling the stresses that come with being a published author.

OMG! You have that right. So true. Plus friends, lots of sweet long-suffering friends who put up with whining for only so long. Of course, that's a whole other post. So if you had to give an aspiring author one piece of advice, what would it be?
Even if writing is your second, third, or fourth job, make it a priority. Set goals for yourself and do your best to achieve them. Get a cheerleader (a friend, spouse, coworker, etc.) who knows you write and can help hold you accountable. Make them ask you if you’ve written yet today! Oops. That was more than one…

That's okay because we need all the advice we can get. See a good friend(s) is an important key to success.  I'm so blessed to have so many. Now what question do you wish someone would ask? And what's the answer?
Question: What can I do to make my book truly marketable?
The answer: Make sure your book is high-concept, witty, and memorable. This goes for everything from the plot to the title and synopsis. Then, carry those attributes throughout the first book and into a second and third. Truly marketable books, series, and authors are those that readers remember when they’re browsing in-store or online.

Here are a couple fun questions…

What book or books do you like to reread every year?
I rarely read books more than once for fun—there are just too many to choose from! However, I read all kinds of books and some of my perennial favorites include: Blindness by Jose Saramago, Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, and young adult books by Christopher Pike and Francesca Lia Block.

Have you ever become star-struck when meeting an author? If so, who?
We get a lot of authors in the offices here, but I remember awkwardly tip-toeing in to meet Gregory Maguire, who wrote the Wicked series. He was so kind when I handed him my torn, dog-eared copy of Wicked—even though I was dopey and awe-struck. He even drew a picture of a witch in my book along with signing it!

I love it! That would tickle me to no end. I know that I've been privileged to meet and become friends and/or friendly acquaintances with a few of my all time favorite authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Linda Howard and Anne Stuart. And plus I got to meet the divine Susan Elizabeth Phillips at RWA's conference in Orlando. Gracious and so kind. Can't wait to corner ... uh ... meet her again in Anaheim (this year's RWA conference).

Thank you so much for visiting Southern Magic's blog and answering our questions.

Everyone, here's your chance to ask an editor from AVON what you've always wanted to know.  Don't forget to check out the website, www.avonimpulse.com, and at the bottom of that website is the FAQ.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Background Baseball

I know a lot of writers love to have background music going on when they write. Some create playlists or soundtracks for their WIPs. As for me, I've never been able to do that. Music distracts me. If it's a movie soundtrack, I'll revisit the movie in my mind. If the music has words, I'll sing along. If it doesn't have words, I'll be transported back to my high school and college symphonic band days (not places I want to visit too often!).

But I have found that the best and most productive background "music" for me is an Atlanta Braves baseball game. It's the perfect structure: I can only write in 2- or 3-hour spurts, about the length of a game. I take breaks at the commercials between innings. During the season, there's a game almost every night, which means I'm writing almost every night. When the Braves have an off day, I vacuum and dust.

I was never a big baseball fan growing up, but came to love Braves baseball shortly after my mom passed away. My dad was a huge fan and lived in a nearby retirement community. I would go visit him almost every night, and we would watch the game. There wasn't a lot of conversation, but we were together. I grew to love the game.

Maybe that's why writing to baseball works so well for me. It still connects me with my dad. Even though he's been gone for seven years, I can feel his love when I watch those games. And that love continues to inspire me.

Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, two outs. I sit with my laptop, confident I can hit a writing grand slam. Whether I will or not, remains to be seen. But I'm playing the game.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back in the Chair

Exercise.  Hum.  Good for the body.  Yet, for me, despite knowing the benefits and loving the rewards, it can be so hard to start back once I've stopped for a period of time. There's always the promise to do it tomorrow.

Same is true of my writing.  I have been knocked out of the chair for quite some time now.  I've had a few false starts only to stall out.  Sure, I have reasons.  Same as exercising, there is always some reason not to write today.  This happened.  That needs done.  Life continues no matter what.

So tell me, what do you do to get back in the chair and stay there?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice (Come Sit By Me!)


 
Everyone has that one friend who is brutally honest and makes no apologies for it. In college my best friend was Mary Nell. She was the person I took shopping with me when I had to buy a new evening gown for a concert or recital performance. Sales ladies cringed when they saw her coming.


Me : "What about this one, Mary Nell?"
Saleslady : "Oh, that shade of brown sets off your lovely complexion."
Mary Nell : "Makes your a** look like two pigs scrambling for the last corn cob in a mud hole."


Saleslady : "Madam definitely makes a statement in this shade of red."
Me : "Really?" (Turns to admire self in three-way mirror.)
Mary Nell : "She makes a statement in it alright. Fifty bucks an hour or
one hundred bucks for the night."




I can't even begin to imagine what Mary Nell would say about this lovely wedding party. Probably something along the lines of  "Friends don't let friends dress drunk."  or  "The only way I'd make my bridesmaids dress like that is if they'd all slept with my fiance."
  

Here is a great post by Nathan Bransford on editing (critiquing) someone's work.
 
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/04/ten-commandments-for-editing-someones.html

I hope everyone takes the time to read it, because it gives some great guidelines for doing the job professionally, thoughtfully and most important - with an eye to truly helping the writer improve their work.


As writers, we say we want someone like my friend Mary Nell to critique our work. Someone who will be brutally honest.  Yet sometimes we lose sight of that. I know I have. A good critique partner is worth their weight in gold. And if you have one who is willing to give you their honest opinion, no holds barred, even when it hurts, hang on to them. And learn how to take a critique ! That is what this post is about. Here are some of the things I have to tell myself when reading a critique. I am not always successful. I am still learning to be a BIG GIRL when it comes to my writing. How the people who critique my work put up with me, I will NEVER KNOW. So I tell myself with each critique :


Don't take it personally! It's about the work, not about you.

Don't explain. If you have to explain to your critique partner, you will have to explain to your reader. Will you be sitting there to explain when the reader reads your book? No? Then your critique partner is probably right.

Sometimes your critique partner is wrong or maybe only half right. Take what you can use and don't argue about the rest. A good critique partner knows it is your book and will do the same when you offer him or her suggestions.

Listen. Carefully. Don't react. Read the critique a couple of times. And realize this person gave your their time - time they could have been writing. This person gave you the consideration and value of their intellect - which they could have used on their own work. This person gave you the respect one gives a writer intelligent enough to accept constructive criticism. Try to be worthy of that respect.


How about you? Did you read Mr. Bransford's post? Did it resonate with you? What other advice can you add about how to take a critique with grace and intelligence and how to make use of a critique of your work? 





Sunday, April 22, 2012

After The First Book...

There are steps to the writing journey that have to met, there is no escaping them and they include:

Step 1:  FINISH the book.
Step 2:  Revise the book.
Step 3:  Repeat step two, include edits, minor panic, a possible meltdown, addiction to chocolate, some sobbing, and long conversations with critique partners. Enter contests. Revise again.
Step 4:  Query. Query. Query.

Now comes a critical part of the whole writing process. If you miss this step, it could be detrimental.

Step 5:  Brainstorm and START writing the next book.

Well, I brainstormed. Wrote a synopsis...started writing the second book in the series stopped when I started getting the rejections. Now I am brainstorming a new series.

Step 6: Finish second book.

Step 7:  REPEAT from step one.

I stumbled a bit. I didn't dive into the next series. I let the rejections hit me in the solar plexus. I have to admit, those rejections got to me. I thought they didn't but as I stared at the computer, or blank page of the notebook, my hand froze, my brain stopped working.

I thought. "Am I a one book wonder?"

No.

They say the first book is the hardest to write, but I'm thinking the second book is a leap of faith. The first book is the learning book, the one you just blissfully wandered into like a fly into a web. Now, older, wiser, and more aware of the expectations the second book awaits.

For those of you who have written more than one book, published or unpublished, what is your take on this?  What did you do after you finished the first book? Do you stop for awhile or keep writing onward?

Tell us your second book or even third book story, I'd love to hear it.

Me, I'm stocking up on chocolate, coffee, and wine. Because my second story awaits.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Who Are You Aiming To Please? by Christy Reece

This is a post Christy did 8/17/06 and I think we all need to remember.  Enjoy.

There's a lot of advice out there about what to write. Some say, write the book of your heart. Others say, write to the market. Still others say, write what you love but keep an eye on the market. It's hard to know who's right, though I suspect that at some point that advice is right or wrong, depending upon who you are, what you're writing and what the market is at the time you're trying to sell. Clear as mud? Of course it is. That's the beauty of advice. Take it however you want to take it.

What about the stories you write? Forget whether you're writing to the market or the book of your heart. Who is your target audience? And what exactly do you want to give them?

Recently, a well known author has indicated that a much loved character from her very famous books might meet his doom in the last book she writes in the series. I haven't read the books, so I don't think it'll bother me too much, but what will it do to the millions of people, a good many of them children, who do read and love this character? Is this a good marketing strategy or career suicide?

Many blogs ago, I mentioned that I've boycotted a very famous author for almost twenty years because she killed off a beloved character in a sequel. I've yet to buy another of her books, even when they're on the bargain shelf. Childish? Maybe. But I took what she did very personally and felt as if it were a slap in the face to her many fans who cherished her books and the characters she'd created.

I didn't really want to see the author suffer. Well okay, maybe I wanted her to suffer just a little. She didn't. She became an even more popular author, hitting the NYT bestseller's list time and again. I'm quite sure she never noticed or would care that I never bought another one of her books.

Not everyone has to have a happy ending. As a former bookseller, I was shocked to discover that some people actually wanted books that would make them cry or disturbed them. And that's fine, to each his own.

But do authors have an obligation to write what the reader expects from them? Doesn't an author grow a readership by supplying their fans with the kinds of stories they've come to enjoy?

What about you? Are you writing to entertain and satisfy the masses? Do you write to please yourself, please the market? Would you care that millions of people or perhaps just one person, never bought another of your books because of how you ended your story?

In other words, as my granddaddy always said, who are you aiming to please?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Cleaning Your Novel

Spring is here and the air is getting warmer. Now that the cold days of winter are behind us so should the slowness of our writing that next book. Oh yes, I admit I'm guilty of the worst writer's sin. Winter writing laziness. I've got a dictionary's worth of excuses. There is no excuse. I just got lazy and made up excuses. I'm now getting back to where I left off before Christmas and continuing with the second book in my series. You're right I said Christmas. Now I did work on it a few days in February. Yet that's not what I should have done. Persistence with writing is the only way for me to get past that lazy loafer inside me. Please join me in warming up to your computer and get back to writing? What is the penance for being a contrite lazy writer anyway?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Southern Hauntings

I love ghost stories, especially Southern ghost stories.  My elementary school librarian told my mother I used to check out Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham at least once a month.  To this day, when I go to Montgomery, I drive by Huntingdon College and remember the tale of the Red Lady, and you bet your sweet bippy every time I have court in Pickens County, I swing by the old courthouse to take a peek at the "face in the courthouse window."

What is your favorite ghost story?  Share it with me. One commenter will win a copy of SUMMER GOTHIC, a collection of summertime ghost stories from Alabama authors, including Southern Magic's Suzanne Johnson and Ingrid Seymour.  I will announce the winner  in the comment section on the evening of April 17. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

An Ancient Story Comes to Life

Before Southern’s Magic’s 2011 Reader’s Luncheon, I asked Birmingham author Teresa Thorne to tell blog readers more about her award-winning novel, Noah’s Wife, named the 2009 Historical Fiction Book of the Year by ForeWord Reviews Magazine.


Our correspondence fell into an unpredictable cyberspace wormhole, but I’m delighted to report that we ultimately managed to connect, and thrilled to bring you the interview.


The blurb:

Noah’s Wife is the story of Na’amah, a brilliant young girl with a form of autism we know today as Asperger’s Syndrome. Na’amah desires only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey--a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother, the love of two men, and a disaster only she knows is coming.


The interview:

Q. To begin, let me admit: I’m both a writer and a fan, and I’m totally intimidated by your accomplishments. You not only have achieved admirable things in real life--you’ve garnered a novel-of-the-year award and earned a slew of other writing credits. And you’re making your home city a better place. And you have a personal life. How have you managed to ride herd on your competing interests?


A. Thank you for your too kind words, Chris. I guess part of the answer is that I am not good at relaxing. I figured that out one day when I went onto my front porch, which looks down into a beautiful valley, and sat in a rocking chair to “practice” retirement (no book; no laptop; no cell phone). It lasted about 30 seconds before I had to get up and “do” something. On the other hand, I rarely watch TV. (I am socially-challenged if conversations head that way.) And I am a terrible house-keeper. (So fortunate in having a husband who enjoys cooking, does laundry and puts up with me working in seclusion for long periods of time.) Another factor that helps is no (human) children in the house, only four dogs, two cats and two horses.


Q. What was the genesis of Noah’s Wife?


A. A friend of mine wrote a poem called “Noah’s Wife.” She was inspired to write it after learning that in the Bible, Noah’s wife is not even given a name and only allotted one line. I thought that needed to be “fixed.” I wanted to write a story that reflected what might have really happened, the source of the Noah’s ark tale, so I started researching it. To my excitement, I learned about a great flood thousands of years ago that transformed a small fresh water lake into the Black Sea and flooded the plains of Mesopotamia. I researched the time period, placed my character in ancient Turkey, and traveled with her for four years to see what happened. It was a wonderful ride.


Q. What was the earliest answer you remember to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”


A. An astronaut. I wanted to make “first contact” with cool aliens! Wrote a letter to NASA when I was eleven years old asking what courses I needed to take to be in the space program. Back then, that was impossible for a woman, especially one with bad vision (too many books), so I decided to become a social worker, only a funny thing happened along the way, and I ended up in a 22-year career as a police officer in Birmingham. Go figure. In those days, we always had a partner, and mine usually drove. My job was to look out the window for signs of break-ins or suspicious people. In between bursts of adrenalin, this got boring, and I don’t do boring very well (see above re: rocking chair). So, I would stare out the window, looking alert and daydream about plot and dialogue for a novel. To this day, I do my best “thinking” in a car.


Q. What came first, life experience or the urge to write?


A. My first story came at about age ten, so if you don’t count my first decade as “experience,” the desire to write came first for me.


Q. Among all your projects, do you have a favorite?


A. I can’t pick one, but of my novels, my favorites are Noah’s Wife; Angels at the Gate: The Story of Lot’s wife, my forthcoming novel; and a science fiction novel, Snowdancers of Veld. I was also fortunate to have the experience of turning one of my short stories into a screenplay and seeing it made into a film (Six Blocks Wide). That was almost too much fun!


Q. Would you tell us about your adventures in publishing? I ask because I notice that you have had two publishers--Chalet and Blackburn Fork--in a short time. As many of the Romance Magician blog subscribers are also writers, an account of your journey would be enlightening.


A. Sure. “Adventures in publishing” is an apt phrase. The short version of the story is that originally, Noah’s Wife was picked up by Chalet Publishing, a boutique publisher in Arizona, however, they had to close their doors, so I chose to publish Noah’s Wife myself (Blackburn Fork) because people are still asking for it. Meanwhile, I am shopping a home for my next novel, Angels at the Gate. An agent is reading it as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


Q. When you consider how easy it is to email and blog, we may be living in a new golden age of letters. Do you have any advice for writers who aspire to be novelists?


A. My advice is old stuff, but true stuff: Read. Write. Study the craft of writing. Don’t give up. Listen to your characters. Don’t baby your characters; they can’t grow if they don’t experience pain. Put things together that you wouldn’t think would normally go and see what happens. When I “discovered” my character had Aspergers Syndrome (a form of autism), it was a surprise, and my first reaction was, I can’t give Aspergers to Noah’s wife! But my character insisted that was right and I listened to her … and she was right.


Aside from the “Big Six” publishers, there are choices now (small presses, self-publishing, eBooks) that were not available years ago. That is a good thing, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can succeed without the work that needs to be done to be the best writer you can be. The path is a hard one, sometimes bitter, frustrating and even painful. But it is also a path of joy, and I wish every writer the amazing experience of giving birth to a “child” with wings to fly out into the world--apart from you, but always part of you.


Thanks, Teresa, for answering the questions, and best wishes with your agent search!


More about the author:

T.K. Thorne served with the Birmingham, Alabama Police Department for more than 20 years in a variety of positions, including as a detective and precinct commander, retiring with the rank of captain. Today she is the Executive Director of City Action Partnership, a business improvement district in downtown Birmingham. Noah’s Wife is her debut novel. A film from her screenplay, Six Blocks Wide, has shown at film festivals in Alabama and Europe. She lives on a beautiful mountain in north central Alabama with her family of people, dogs, cats and horses.

For more information about T.K. Thorne and her work visit her web site, www.tkthorne.com or her blog, T.K.’s Tales, www.tkthorne.wordpress.com. You can find Teresa on Facebook as Teresa K. Thorne, and also as Noah’s Wife.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beginnings are a Tricky Thing

I've officially rewritten the first 5k words of my WIP twelve times now. It still isn't right.

I've made it first person. I've changed it to third. I've given my main character a quirky compulsion. I've made her unbearably boring.

I've got the first few pages to shine...and they are beyond dull.

So I'm back to the drawing board.

I read on a blog recently that you should begin with a change. I've read that you should begin with action. Personally, I've always started with voice. If the voice isn't right at the beginning, I can't get very far.

Digging through all of the many notes and files I've made for this (my NaNoWriMo) WIP mess, I found a voice that I like. It's compelling. It's kind of edgy. I'd want to read this girl's story. So what's the problem? This girl is telling a different story than I thought I was telling. Her chronology is all off and will entail stripping everything down and recreating it in a different order.

There's not really a question about whether I'll do it. I just wish I hadn't been so stubborn for the last few weeks. I should have known--I did know, actually. I felt something was off with what I was trying to polish and shine. I was putting on spackle when I should have been doing major demo work.

I'm off to find a sledgehammer now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Prayer of a Prepublished Writer by Naima Simone

This was such a beautifully written post (March 16, 2008), I thought worthy to be revisited.

Dear God,

I rise out of my bed this morning and head out the door to the job that pays the bills while working towards becoming a published writer, I ask for several things. Please help me to give my job at least six hours today instead of the five I gave yesterday while editing my latest chapter and surfing the net for contests and workshops. Also, Father, please increase my hand-eye coordination so that when someone comes up behind me, I click on "minimize" swiftly and accurately instead of hitting "maximize" by mistake. It's pretty embarrassing.

Speaking of increase, please add to my strength, enabling me to resist the temptation of Debra Webb's newest release so I may complete the chapter that has been giving me fits for the past week. By the way, I know I should have been writing when I watched "Moment of Truth", but that was purely for psychological research into the human mind for my manuscript. I'm sure you understand.

God, help me to forgive the judges of the contest I entered who didn't score my entry high enough to place. I mean, obviously, they didn't recognize my brilliance and unique style...its not their fault. I'm apparently ahead of my time. Take my word for it, switching point of view three times in one paragraph is going to catch on any day now.

And, finally, Father, I thank you for the gift of creativity and imagination You have blessed me with. Thank you for the ability to paint the images in my mind through words instead of brush and easel. Thank you for choosing me...I promise to only use my powers for good.

Amen

P.S.-Oh, and God, when my manuscript is finally published, please don't let my supervisor recognize herself as the person offed in the first chapter...it's strictly creative license. I promise.

[Niama Simone received the call three years ago. You can see below she's as beautiful outside as she's inside.]


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Renaissance Men


Release Date 6/5/2012
One thing that’s been surprising to me after my first book was published is the number of men who are willing to read it. It is a romance. So far I know of two men who have read it or they said they did. And a couple others are claiming to be reading it or plan to read it. That’s cool.


Available Now
No, I didn’t ask them about the hot scenes. Funny thing is I like hearing what the women think about them. Usually, that consists of “Oh, wow! That was hot!” But I would feel a little uncomfortable discussing any aspect of those scenes with a man besides my husband. Now if I could get him to read it (NOT!), I’d gladly talk about them.

Does your husband, boyfriend or special male friend read romances?  I think men who do are very smart.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Steps to Success

Driving home from work a while back, I listened to an interview with Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, those bodyshaping undergarments many women swear by. At the relatively young age of 41, Sara is now a billionaire, thanks to her simple idea of coming up with an undergarment that helps a woman look better in her clothing.

Now, I've never worn Spanx a day in my life. The undergarment that would help me look better in my clothes hasn't been invented yet. But I really enjoyed listening to Sara talk about the steps she took to grow from a simple idea to a successful and lucrative business.

Step one was deceptively simple: come up with a great idea. Sara said that too many people worry about things like focus group and what's selling, rather than depending on their own experiences. Sara created Spanx because she hated the way she looked in her white pants, but she didn't like wearing pantyhose with sandals. She tried cutting the feet out of pantyhose at first, but the hose kept rolling up her legs. So she set out to create a garment that would give her the barefoot look she wanted while still shaping her body more flatteringly underneath her clothes. Sara saw a need that she knew other people shared, and she took steps to fill that need. That's the essence of a great idea, isn't it?

Step two, for her, was finding a way to create the garment she envisioned. She had to go to a lot of textile mills before she found one that could help her make a prototype. Most of them told her no, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. Let me repeat that: she wouldn't take no for an answer. To achieve success at anything, you can't give up when you hear the word no.

Finally, once she got her prototype made, she threw herself into selling her idea to companies that could help her get it out to the buying public. Thinking about this from a writer's viewpoint, it's not enough for me, at least, to just write a good book. I want to share that book with people who read, which means I have to put myself and my work out there to be judged and consumed. I loved Sara's story about approaching a buyer at Neiman Marcus, trying to convince the woman to distribute her product in their stores. She said she convinced the woman to come to the ladies' room with her so she could show her the before and after. As Sara put it, "Talk about putting your butt on the line."

No matter what your dreams and goals are, I think you can learn a lot from Sara Blakely's steps to success. Every once in a while, you can come up with an answer that nobody's asked the question to. But most of the time, success comes from finding a need to fill and then filling it better than anyone else.

I love a good success story, as this blog post would attest. What about you? What are the success stories that have inspired you?

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Mistakes I Made In Writing My First Manuscript


1. I started in the wrong place. Over and over again. I must have rewritten the beginning of that darn book twenty times . . . in twenty different places.

2. The first draft was too long. I had no clue about acceptable word count. Basically, my first “draft” was something like 160,000 words; in other words, a tome!

3. I knew nothing about genre when I started writing. I had a story in my head and I started putting it down, with no clue that agents, editors, and booksellers have to know HOW to shelve your book in order to sell it to readers.

4. I didn't understand point of view. Didn’t figure it out until I was on the third or fourth draft. The light bulb actually went off for me after receiving a critique from an on-line group.

5. Ditto on dialogue tags. I was snorting, gasping, wheezing, growling, snarling, rasping, whispering, scoffing, scolding, shouting, and chuckling all over the place.

6. Double ditto on the overuse of adverbs and adjectives, she admitted wryly.

7. I didn’t know the difference in passive and active voice.

8. I didn’t have a clue how to “show” rather than tell. Still struggle with that one, I must say.

9. I info dumped all over the place!

10. I didn’t realize that, even if you’re writing a series, each book has to stand alone.

11. It was originally written in third person omniscient, which is rarely used these days. (See number 4 about POV).

12. I wasn’t willing to kill my little darlings, even when they didn’t serve a purpose or move the story forward.

13. I became too attached to the story. I couldn’t believe no one recognized my brilliance. Snort! It was only after I walked away from it and tried something else that I sold.

14. I wrote in a vacuum for too many years with no feedback or constructive criticism. I should have joined a writer’s group and RWA sooner, and learned about networking and craft workshops.

These are just a few of the mistakes I made. What about you? What have you learned about the craft of writing through trial and error?

Monday, April 02, 2012

Gibbering Like a Monkey


In about seven days, my debut novel will be unleashed on the world. Yay! It’s been more than two years since I sold the darned thing—it’s way past time. In four days, I hit the road to pimp it around various places to, well, I hope at least crowds of one or two. This is my seventh blog of the weekend. I have eight more to write by tomorrow.

Even I am totally sick of hearing myself “talk.” I suspect I’m being repetitious. I might be coming across like a gibbering monkey, which is kind of how I feel at this stage.

Apologies to my family, who barely see me anymore. That really is me you hear puttering around upstairs in my writing cave.

Apologies to my dogs, whose nails need clipping, ears need cleaning, and I really will pull all those oak tree wormy things out of your tails. Soon.

Apologies to the Sunday School class that is convinced Satan’s minions have spirited me away. I will be back. You’ll see.

Apologies to the wonderful folks at Southern Magic, whose great programming I haven’t been able to enjoy. By June I will resurface.

Apologies to the men of “Swamp People.” I have the entire season DVR’d. I will watch all the episodes soon and once again dream of finding my long-haul ice road trucker who spends his free time gator-hunting. Yeah, I’m a redneck geek—choot me!

For those whose apologies I’ve missed, I apologize.

Off to blog some more.