Many people have influenced my writing career. My goal with this blog is to provide useful information that may help others in the pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, I'll share my experiences in the development of getting my novel published.
I love to hear your comments and suggestions, so don't be shy. We all have something to share. (Contests and submmissions are posted as a courtesy to my readers. Please do your due diligence in researching these opportunities.)
It's getting down to the wire. I've added several new scenes and a new kiss (and it's a scorcher.) I've also added a new character who is showing real promise of hanging around and becoming an ally to my protagonist.
These walk-on characters are killing me. They come out of nowhere make themselves indispensable and then refuse to leave. I'm not sure what that means. Is my creativity flowing or am I allowing my characters to much leeway? Either way, this one's a keeper.
My goal was to have this thing finished the end of September, but that schedule is sliding a little due to some other commitments. But I'm on track for October. I do have my query letter ready to go and it's a good one, if I do say so myself. I'm working on the synopsis and it's not so good yet. But practice makes perfect. So I'll keep slogging away.
The mornings are starting to get chilly, and I love to open the window and let the morning air ruffle the curtains while I write. This morning I can hear the rooster next door crowing his little heart out. He must be a late sleeper, because it's already 8 a.m. I was up before him. Maybe I should start crowing to wake the little slacker up.
Morning is my favorite time to write, but I don't get to do it often. When I do it's a special treat.
Found this post over on Writers Weekly . It announces their Fall 2008 24-Hour Short Story Contest and it starts this Saturday. The catch is you MUST be signed up before the topic is posted to participate, and it's already 73% full (probably more by now.) Yep, you read that right. You sign up and then you get the topic. And you only have 24 hours in which to write the story. How fun is that?
The prizes are awesome.
1st Place $300 2nd Place $250 3rd Place $200
The entry fee is only $5. Click here to register online.
This one has a long lead time. Entries aren't due until March 30, 2009. The Listen to a Life Contest is an awesome opportunity for the younger generation to connect with a member of the older generation (gulp! That's me.) The whole premise is for the young person to interview the oldster (parent, grandparent, friend of family, aunt, uncle, the list is endless) about their dreams and how they achieved them or advice they would offer. Or maybe how they overcame obstacles. After the interview the young person writes a 300-word essay based on the interview.
There's still time to enter the 18th Annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors' Prize in Fiction, Essay and Poetry. The Missouri Review will again be offering over $9000 in prize money along with publication in the magazine. The deadline for submissions is October 1,2008; winners will be announced in early 2009. See contest guidelines for additional information.
These stories will run from humorous to heartfelt to quirky. The topic range is open: from dog rescue, training, and adoption to companionship, communication, and behavior.
Accepted pieces will receive $50 when the book is published, plus one copy of the anthology. Send submissions (please, no profanity or animal abuse) in the body of the e-mail along with a short bio (100 words or less) in third person to: email@example.com Submission period - 9/15/2008-12/1/2008 Deadline: 12/1/2008
NaNoWriMo I say. That's National Novel Writing Month and it begins November 1st. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 in a month--a mere 30 days.
Why am I telling you now? So you can plan. So you can figure out what you want to write, and how you're going to carve out time to do it.
Why would you want to do that? It's an awesome process. I did it last year and ended the month with 50004 words, just 4 little words pushed me over the threshold. Since then I've deleted those 4 words and added another 8000. So see my point. In one month I wrote 50004 words. In the last 10 1/2 months, I've only written 80000. Actually I've probably written more than that, because while I was writing the 50,000 I completely tuned out my internal editor. I shoved her in a desk drawer and threw in chocolate periodically to shut her up.
But I digress...
What did I learn from NaNoWriMo? Several things.
1. I'm a linear writer. So it's best for me to go from start to finish and not skip around writing scenes as they come to me. It boggles my mind too much to have to go back and try and weave stuff in.
2. I write better from an outline. My first attempt was a sheer pantser (by the seat of my pants.) And while I like the story, I wish I had created an outline to keep me on track.
3. While I'll write from an outline next time, I won't be so rigid as to have to stick to it, if my characters want to veer off in another direction.
4. I learned that characters do veer off. One of my minor characters in this novel refused to be minor, so she's come out of the background and will be a major player in my next novel.
5. I need a strict writing schedule with scheduled down time. I abolished all extra-curricular Internet activities until I reached my writing goal for the day. Once I did that, I'd check email, chat with friends and surf.
6. I used a timer and forced myself to write in one hour intervals. After an hour, I got up and stretched, got a drink and made wee wee. I know you're supposed to get up more often than that, but I have a short attention span and it takes me a while to get back to work. So one hour was my interval with a ten minute break.
7. I allowed myself days off. I know it caused my daily writing schedule to increase, but I'm not eating turkey at my computer and I refuse to give up my day after Thanksgiving shopping madness.
8. Writing is easer than editing.
9. Yes, you can actually take showers. You don't have to be a slob to make the goal.
10. It doesn't count if you write - I can't think of anything to write. I can't think of anything to write. I can't think of anything to write.
Will I do it again this year? Heck yeah. October 1st, I start my outline. And yes, you can have an outline, but DO NOT WRITE one word on the novel until November 1st. That's a big no-no.
Is there a prize? Yes, the satisfaction of writing 50,000 words.
Is this a big deal? Just ask the NaNoWriMoer's who wrote a collective 1,187,931,929 words last November.
The Hottest Flash Fiction Contest Deadline - October 15, 2008 Entry fee: $10 Word Limit 1,000 words. First Place: $100. Second Place Winner: $50. Third Place $25. Honorable mentions are awarded at the discretion of the Judge.
What is Flash Fiction? It's fun. It's challenging. For writers, it is an exercise in rewriting and editing. It is a short short story. All flash fiction includes the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. The brevity of this genre often forces some of the story elements to be implied or unwritten in the storyline.
This 6-word flash by Ernest Hemingway is an example of extreme flash fiction:"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
Saturday Writers Presents Turn the Page Workshop Date: Saturday, October 25, 2008 Time: 10:00 am—3:00 pm Location: St. Peters City Hall—Rm A One St. Peters Centre Blvd. St. Peters, MO 63376
Early Bird Registration ends Oct. 1st Members: $50.00; Non-Members $60.00
After October 1st: Members: $60.00; Non-Members $70.00
At Door: Everyone $ 75.00 (NO LUNCH PROVIDED)
LUNCH AND BEVERAGE PROVIDED FOR ADVANCED REGISTRANTS
Finished your novel or almost have it finished? Have new ideas for a smashing article? Well, turn the page and join us for an all-day workshop featuring Krista Goering, literary agent from Krista Goering Literary Agency LLC, Susan Swartwout, professor, director of the University Press and editor of Big Muddy, Rebecca French Smith, Managing Editor Missouri Life, and Anna Genoese, Consulting Editor for Tom Doherty Associates, LLC..
PUBLISHING 101 BY KRISTA: * The book publishing industry in general and how it is changing * How agents work * What information is important in a query letter * What not to do when querying an agent * How to write a great nonfiction book proposal * When it makes sense to self-publish * How to promote/publicize your book
EDITOR IDOL: Bring your first paragraph, manuscript formatted, of fiction or non-fiction work or 10 lines of poetry. Editors will read out loud, preserving your privacy, then comment on what they liked or didn't like, what hooked or didn't hook them. You can bring more than once piece (on a separate sheet of paper), but we’ll only take seconds if time permits.
5-MINUTE PITCH APPOINTMENTS WITH KRISTA, SUSAN OR REBECCA: Sign up to pitch when you register. Appointment will be assigned and given the day of the workshop. (Attendees only)
ADVANCE WRITTEN CRITIQUES: Krista will do a limited number of written critiques for attendees for $25.00. FICTION: First 10 manuscript pages OR query letter and synopsis. NON-FICTION: Proposal (5 pages max) OR first 10 pages of manuscript.
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the documents in the body of email, or mail hard copy with registration. Attachments will be deleted. Payment must follow with registration. No manuscripts will be sent to Krista until payment is received. No manuscripts accepted after October 1st
If so, Adams Media is looking for your story for an anthology entitled Woodstock Revisited. The deadline is tight, September 7, 2008, but they are desperatly seeking stories. This sounds like an exciting anthology. The 60s were such turbulent times--peace, war, free love, riots, the happy face, Vietnam.
I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to hone my query letter. I've written it a time or two, but I want to polish it up as best I can. Susan McBride, our speaker from Saturday Writers sent me a link to a query article by Holly Lisle . Wow, not only is the article great, but her website is jampacked with information, and she offers a free class on outlining your plot.
P.S. Susan's new book The Debs just made its debut.
I love it. Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management is critiquing query letters at Query Shark. Now if I could just find the Jaws music. How fun is that? Probably not, if you've sent in a crappy query letter, but the opportunity to get some advance feedback before you send it on. Priceless.
Janet doesn't promise to critique all submissions, but what do you have to lose. And she only does fiction, so don't send the other ones in or she'll probably chum the water with you. Check out Query Shark for recent query letters she has critiqued and for instructions on how to submit yours. (Remember, play by her rules.)