Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hospitals Aren't My Favorite Place

But they sure do provide good fodder! As most of you know, I've been on a break from social networking. I want to express my gratitude for all of your well wishes while I was away. The reason for my break was my father's unexpected admission into the hospital nearly two weeks ago. I won't go into any details, but he has multiple health issues. For the first week, it was pretty touch and go. We truly thought he was going to die. I'm happy to say that he is recovering and should be fine. He's still in the hospital and has some major physical therapy ahead of him, but the scariest part is over. Despite his improved condition, I'm still spending much of my time at the hospital. It's been a great research tool for writing about emotion. You see all kinds of people feeling all kinds of things. The sad but relieved relatives of an elderly person who has just passed onto a better place. The happiness of new parents as they leave with their tiny bundle of joy. The fear of families like mine in not knowing if their loved one will survive the night. Don't get me wrong--writing didn't even cross my mind until we were certain my dad would be okay. But after that, I thought a great deal about it. Is that wrong? What about you? Have any of you ever been thinking about your writing at what might appear to be an inappropriate time?

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Unexpected Break

Due to an unexpected family emergency, I won't be around on blogger until after the Thanksgiving break. Hope all is well, and I look forward to catching up with everyone when I return. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about some helpful websites that might help you through the torture of SYNOPSIS writing. Today, I'd like to pass along some links for the other torture chamber, better known as writing THE QUERY LETTER. Dun-ta-Dun... (In case you don't get that, it's supposed to be the sound of peril.) No really, query writing is not that bad, especially if you do your research. The first impression an agent has of you is based on your query letter, so you better put as much effort into it as you did your manuscript. That being said, I'd like to pass on a few good places to start. Of course, there is the infamous Elana Johnson, brilliant author of FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL. Her formula for the query letter simplifies the whole process into something understandable. Then, there is the notorious Janet Reid, better known as The Query Shark. Her query template provides the low down on what an agent really wants to know about your manuscript. My recent favorite is Jill Corcoran's information about her specific likes and dislikes when it comes to the query letter. And, finally, for entertainment purposes, you should check out my query blunders from almost two years ago. Yeah, they are laughable! In addition to these sites, I want to stress the importance of researching particular agents before querying them. Each agent has their own preferences when it comes to receiving queries. Hope this was somewhat helpful to all of those out there in the query trenches. Anyone have any other helpful sites to share?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yeah, it's another empty shoebox...

I have to go work at my paying job today, so I may or may not be around the blogosphere. Those of you who work full time, write part time, and manage to blog/twitter/facebook consistently amaze me. It's hard for me to keep up with even on the days I'm home. So, kudos to you! Anyway, I'll leave you with a quick Tuesday Tip before I head off into the executive world... If you don't have something of value to blog/tweet/facebook about, then don't post anything at all. I obviously should have taken my own advice before posting this because I've got nothing! Have a great day, and I'll be around if at all humanly possible.

Monday, November 15, 2010

So Many To Choose From!

What shoe shopping, car buying, and agenting (yeah, I don't think it's a word either, but you get what I mean, right?) all have in common: We've been car hunting for my daughter for about six weeks now. We've come across several acceptable vehicles, but none of them screamed, "BUY ME! BUY ME! BUY ME!" Some looked nice on the outside without a dent or a scratch, but were seriously flawed on the inside with carpet stains or cigarette burns in the seats. They were kind of like a beautiful pair of shoes that are tortuously painful to wear. Or, like a manuscript that catches an agent's attention with a wonderfully written query letter, but disappoints with terrible writing. Some of the cars we looked at were nice on the outside and immaculate on the inside, but lacked mechanical stability. They were like an eye-catching, comfortable shoe that you would never wear because you have nowhere to wear them to. Or, like a manuscript with an attention grabbing query and a beautiful writing style, but a horrible premise. Finally, we came across a vehicle that was flawless on the inside and out, and was mechanically sound. It's like a stylish yet comfortable and functional shoe that people would stop to compliment you on. Or, a manuscript that grabs an agent's interest with an awesome query, brilliant writing, and a knock-out premise. Guess which car we chose? Which kind of manuscript do you think an agent is looking for? Don't even think that they will settle for less than the best. After all, we didn't.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ah, Shucks... You Guys Are The Best!

You all made me feel so at home on Facebook and Twitter, I decided to take my shoes off and stay a while. In the spirit of Friday Fluff, I want to give a big heartfelt shout out to all my on-line buddies. I was leery of taking on more social networking, but I broke down and did it. You know what? It's been amazing. And I have all of you to thank for that. That's all for today, but I hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Putting Your Shoes Out There

So, I'm on a roll with this whole social networking thing. Yesterday, it was Twitter. Today, it's Facebook. That's right--I have a new Facebook page. You can follow me there and on Twitter by visiting the links on my sidebar. What's with all the new social networking? You might ask. Well, I think it's important. For today's Thursday's thoughts, I want to dive into this topic. How important do you think social networking is for aspiring authors? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think it's highly important. Maybe not for the reasons you think, though. Here are my reasons to actively participate in social networking sights. #1: You meet people of like mind. There is nothing more valuable to the aspiring author than others who are in the same boat. My guess is, most of us don't physically interact with other writers. If we do, it's on a limited basis. Why not connect with people just like us on line? It makes sense, doesn't it? #2: You learn a lot in the process. Whether it's a tweet, a Facebook status, or a blog post, everything you read garners knowledge. Maybe it's about the industry as a whole, a particular agent or publisher, or a specific writing technique, there is valuable information to be gained from others. #3: You form a connection with people of importance. I know from experience that agents and editors do, in fact, check in on the on-line presence of prospective clients. The aforementioned may not choose to represent you based on the level of your on-line presence, but they do appreciate the fact that you have one. It builds a professional appearance if nothing else. #4: You are laying important groundwork. Whether you are published or not, the greatest marketing tool you have is your name. It's not one book you are selling; it's you as the author. (This does, however, require that the writing is good, as well.) Anyway, the more people who recognize your name, the more people who will choose one of your books over another on the bookstore shelf because your name is familiar to them. Why not start getting that name out there now? #5: You are having fun. Yes, you read that right. The most important part of social networking is that it's fun. It's like going to a party without having to get all ready. You can wear your pajamas for all anyone cares. No need to pull out the make-up and high heels. After all, no one can see you. Okay, so there you have it. My thoughts on social networking. Please share yours.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.

So, I finally tackled Twitter. It was one of my goals for 2010. I put it off for almost 11 months, but I'm now an official Twitterer. Now, if I can only figure out how to get a link to my Twitter site on this blog. (Hey, I said I tackled Twitter. I didn't say I conquered it.) For now you can get to my profile page here. Please follow me so that I can follow you. Anyway, for today's Wednesday Website post, instead of sharing a new website with you, I'm hoping you will share your Twitter tips with me. I'm new to this game, and I haven't quite figured the whole thing out yet. Consider me Twitilliterate. Any advice, tips, secrets, etc. would be greatly appreciated. Happy Twittering!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fast is better, right?

Or is it? Writing isn't a race in my opinion, but I do understand the whole NaNo concept. Especially now that I "unofficially" joined in. Most of you know that I recently put an old project to the side and started a new one. With a NaNo mentality, I dove in head first. I outlined for the first time ever, and on November 1st, I started writing like a mad woman. There was just one problem--my pesky little head-case of an editorial mind kept butting in. Every sentence was up for scrutiny. I only managed to write a measly 400 words the first week. I have to give all of you credit who actually succeed in the NaNo challenge. Writing 50,000 words in 30 days is definitely an accomplishment that I doubt I'll ever achieve in this lifetime. But, you know what? I'm okay with that. It just isn't my style. I prefer the slow and steady form of writing--second guessing every word, editing as I go, etc. In the end, I'm happier with my day's work. My point is this--write how you want to write. Whatever works for you is the best method no matter what anyone else is doing. If you're comfortable cranking out almost 2,000 words a day and going back to edit later, then do it. If you prefer to write a lot less and edit as you go, then do that. Either way, we all get to "THE END", right? My humble Tuesday Tip for this week is to write how you are comfortable, not how someone else you know writes. Whether you are the tortoise or the hare, you will make it to the finish line so long as you are determined. So, what kind of writer are you?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Football, Football, Football...

That's all I hear around here. Between the high school game on Friday night and the K-State game on Saturday, not to mention the Chiefs on Sunday... it's all about football. Don't get me wrong--I love football. I will say this, though, when a team is losing, they like to blame it on bad calls. To me, this is a joke. Yeah, sometimes bad calls make or break a game, but they don't make or break a season. If a team is good enough, they find a way to win more than they lose. Same goes with writers. Sure, we may have a lot of things going against us, but if we are good enough, we will find a way to win a game or two, hopefully the whole season. A bad call here and there isn't going to make or break us. So, go out there and play your best. You never know what might happen. And if you don't get what you want, don't blame it on bad calls. Just try a little harder. Maybe next time you'll succeed. Yeah, I know, totally random post. It is Monday, though...

Friday, November 5, 2010

It's that time of year...

The temperature is dropping like a deflating balloon, and I want it to stop! But, it's not going to. Instead, I have to pull out my furry slippers. I'm okay with that. Really, I am. It's just that I don't want to hibernate all winter like I usually do. Don't get me wrong; my writing is more productive than ever during this season. But, I abhor the cold. How you people up in Alaska deal with it, I'll never know. So, in preparation for my winter writing wonderland, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I've prepared an outline for my next project. This is something I've never done before, but after writing the synopsis for my last project, I realized the two are really one in the same. Doing it ahead of time could save a lot of frustration later on. As most of you know, I'm more of a pantster type of writer because I am afraid an outline will stifle my creativity. But, even with an outline, I can go astray if I want to, right? The outline just gives me a path to follow. If you were around here on Wednesday, you read my post about writing a synopsis. I want to thank all those who shared additional resources on the topic. One stood out to me, though. Katie Ganshert has some great advice for writing a synopsis. These same tips might prove helpful in outlining as well. Go check it out. What about you? Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to improve your skills as a writer? Whether you are participating in NaNo, in the midst of another project, or just taking a break, I wish you well. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

These Shoes Look Painful!

Don't they? Almost as painful as writing a synopsis. Most of you know that I spent almost a year rewriting and revising my latest project. What you may not know, is that I spent the last month or so rewriting and revising my synopsis. How can two pages be so difficult to produce? I mean, seriously, I've already written a 250 page novel? Why is this so hard? I don't have the answer, but I do know that I'm not alone. I thought for this week's Wednesday Websites post, I'd share a handful of sites which I found helpful in the synopsis writing process. Writing.com Literary Agent, Nathan Bransford Author, Charlotte Dillon Author (and fellow blogger), Elana Johnson Author, Meredith Bond Although, it appears that no one has any concrete answers for compiling the perfect synopsis, these websites offer a place to start. Go check them out, and good luck if you're writing your own synopsis. My sympathies are with you. :) Only kidding! Any other websites or other resources you know about? Please do share.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Shoes!

Okay, so I'm back from my little blog break. I planned on taking another few days off, but I got the best news from one of crit partners. I couldn't wait to share it with all of you. You may remember a month or so ago when I mentioned that my crit buddy K.M. Walton signed with an agent. Well guess what, one of her books sold to Simon & Schuster, and it comes out in the Spring of 2012. I'm so excited for her. Go by and congratulate her. She's worked hard for this, and I can't think of anyone more deserving. Anyway, I'll be around visiting today. I can't wait to catch up with everyone. I'm sure I've missed a ton of amazing news.