Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

I don't think we probably take enough time to say thank you to our men and women in the armed forces that are fighting for us every day. I'm sure each one of knows someone in the armed forces: a spouse, a child, a brother, a sister, or friend. They put their lives in harm's way so that we don't have to. I was so moved by a recent episode of Gene Simmons' Family Jewels. They visited a Veteran's Hospital in Long Beach. They spoke with many veterans and I was struck by two of the veteran's comments. One of the was "Freedom isn't Free" and the other one was "I put on the uniform, so that my family doesn't have to". Their patriotism and belief in freedom is inspiring.

Memorial Day is a great time to reflect on those that have served and died for our country. Their burden was heavy and yet they took it on with pride and fortitude.

So, thank you, to all of you in the U.S. armed forces that fight for our freedom and protect us citizens.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Professional Critiques

I got my critque back from the Writers League of Texas manuscript contest. I submitted the 1st 10 pages of my first chapter. It's a YA fiction novel in progress. They've changed the format of their critique and actually provide a score card. The disappointing part is that I didn't score as well as I would have liked. The exciting part is that my reviewer pointed out the exact same items that I needed to work on that my the reviewer from the Ohio conference noted. At least they are unanimous in what I needed to work on. Both of them said that I showed promise and that if I just fixed these few items that I would have a great story.

Things I still struggle with are:

1) Taking the adult out of my younger characters
2) Not really setting the scene
3) Rushing through my story/scenes

Critiques don't hurt my feelings. I am here to learn and am grateful to have my work placed in front of a professional that takes the time to pinpoint those areas in my writing that need work. I'm a student/writer in learning mode.

I have to say that I don't think I really knew where my story was going until I mapped it out and that has helped me tremendously. I will do that from now on.

I thought of going back to fix the first 4 chapters but decided against it. I just finished chapter 5 and have tried to incorporate their feedback. I'm afraid that if I continually go back that I will never finish the book. I have to remind myself that this is my draft and that books are meant to be revised and tweaked before they are submitted.

I remember during one of the WLT meetings that someone asked the question-how do I get off chapter 1? Apparently, that's common for new writers. The answer was to remember books are created as drafts and there will be revisions. Get through your story and finish the book. It's more important to finish the book, then do revisions, then to keep revising Chapter 1 until you're happy with it.

Happy Writing!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Following the Rules

At a recent conference, I took a class called 'The Business behind getting your book published'. It was taught by Tanya Dean, executive editor at Darby Creek Publishing. There were some items that I thought would be obvious to potential published authors, but here's the low down.

1. Always, always read the publishing house's submission guidelines.
2. Now, always, always follow those guidelines.
3. Know what types of books they are in the business of publishing. Finding the right house to submit your work to is paramount. You want to maximize the chances by sending your work to a house that actually publishes that genre of book.
4. Have a good idea of the recent books that house has put on the market.
5. Do a book search on or (Barnes & Noble) to learn how many other books similar to yours have already been published. One fellow writer indicated that she did the search and found a published book similar to hers, however; it had gotten terrible reviews. She felt she could do better. On the flip side, another woman I spoke with did a search on Amazon and found a book very similar to hers and it was very popular. She decided she needed to find a different spin to the story.
6. Always, always send a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) especially when mailing queries to smaller publishing houses or agents. Many of them do not have the budget to pay for the additional postage, so they may not contact the writer for a story they may be interesting in reading , if there's not a SASE.

The main theme here is do your homework before you submit anything to an agent or publishing house.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chapter scripts

At the CO Writers conference, I took a class on 'Research: Making it authentic' taught by Carol Gorman . There were several items that really made an impact on me. Here they are:

1) Always keep your character in trouble or uncomfortable. Tension keeps the story interesting
2) When researching, try to experience things for yourself. Examples: walking through a haunted house, eating at a particular diner, roller skating.
3) Create chapter scripts-know what you want to accomplish in each chapter.

Ok, I was stuck on Chapter 4 of my first YA novel and hadn't worked on it for about 2 months. I decided to try this chapter scripting exercise and was blown away by its effectiveness. I'm sure we all write in different ways and if you're like me, this might work for you. I usually have a solid idea for my story and characters. I know the highlights, but let the details unfold as I write.

This exercise just helped me to document the movement of the story. As I wrote down the theme for each chapter, some new ideas popped in my head that help facilitate the pace of the story.

Here's an example.

Chapter 1: Lola crashes her dad's Mercedes
Chapter 2: While recovering in the hospital, Lola misses her prom
Chapter 3: Lola comes home, Dad tells her she needs to get a job to pay for the damages
Chapter 4: Lola searches for a summer job
Chapter 5: Lola finds a job at advertising firm
Chapter 6: Lola meets Todd the college intern.

Hope this helps, happy writing!!