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5 Tips to Trim your Writing

  Posted by From The Write Angle in From The Write Angle Blog, 01 September 2014 · 5 views

by Jemi Fraser

Many beginning writers end up with enormous word counts. (If you want to check out my story, it's over on my blog today).

Trimming Tip #1 -- Adjectives & Adverbs

Cut. Cut. Cut. Sure you need a few adjectives, and sometimes they enhance your prose, but be careful! I'm not an especially visual person or writer, but I was floored when I first learned this tip and realized how many adjectives I had in my draft. Nearly every sentence was sprinkled with writerly words that screamed AMATEUR!

Ditto the above advice for adverbs. It's a little easier to edit for these though. Use that handy-dandy Find tool (CTRL F) and search for 'ly'. We all know not all adverbs end in ly, but many do, and this tool makes it easy to spot them. It also takes you out of the flow of reading the story, which is very important when editing. Often replacing your verb/adverb combination with a stronger/more explicit verb makes your sentence stronger.

Trimming Tip #2 -- Cutting Scenes

Whole scenes. As you're editing, ask yourself about the purpose of the scene. If it's not moving the story along, not increasing the tension or the conflict or the stakes, bring out the sword and slash away. Painful, yes, but maybe you can keep some of them as bonus content for visitors to your website. (Make sure the quality is high, after all, there's a reason you're cutting in the first place!)

Trimming Tip #3 -- Filler Words

We all have them. Some of them are more obvious than others. Once I feel pretty good about a draft, I dump my story into Wordle and eliminate all the proper nouns (right click then delete). The bigger the word, the more times it appears. Then use that CTRL F tool to help you find and eliminate as many as you can.

Some words that often appear as fillers:

just, suddenly, again, eyes, look/looked/looks, seemed/seems, feels/felt, smiles/smiled, really, very, maybe, quite, started to...

Trimming Tip #4 -- Qualifiers

Eliminating words and phrases like 'a bit', 'a little', 'sort of', 'seemed to' 'felt like', can all make your writing stronger and, as an added bonus, make your characters less wishy-washy at the same time. If someone's mad, let him/her be all the way mad!

Trimming Tip #5 -- Echoes

This is my Achilles' heel. As the self-proclaimed Queen of Redundancies, I've literally cut thousands of words by eliminating phrases and sentences where I'm repeating information already provided. Trust your readers not to be idiots, they'll get it the first time. (<-- Which is a great example of a sentence including an echo!)

Trimming the fat out of that draft will do nothing but enhance your story. Don't be afraid of that delete key. If it helps, imagine Legolas or Aragorn at your side, sword in hand, as you slash your way to a stronger story!

Do you enjoy the Slash 'n' Burn rounds of editing?

Jemi Fraser is an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.

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Holy Word Count!

  Posted by Jemi in Just Jemi, 01 September 2014 · 10 views

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about how to make your writing leaner. I know from experience how daunting that can be, but that experience has made me a much stronger writer today.

Probably 6 years ago or so, I decided to write a novel. I knew nothing. NOTHING. Absolutely nothing.

But I had read a whole slew (or six slews) of novels, so I wasn't in the least bit daunted.

The story ended up at over 170 000 words.

Yup, you read that right.

Then I stumbled upon Agent Query Connect and started to learn what writing a novel was all about. I learned a lot. Backstory, dialogue tags, strong verbs instead of verb/adverb combinations, echoes, tension, conflict, character arcs...

So I revised. And revised again a couple of (dozen) times.

Eventually, the story was down to 81 000. Less than half. And it was SO much better!

But I wouldn't trade the experience of writing that story in all its over-padded glory for anything. It will always have a safe place in my hard drive. I learned more from writing that story ... and revising that story ... than I could have from a dozen classes.

How about you? Any fond memories of your first serious attempt at writing?

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Crash

  Posted by mlebleek in Bleeker Street, 31 August 2014 · 22 views

Last week I was about to write a nice blog about editing but then the unthinkable happened…my computer crashed. Crash is a nice way to put it. It was more like my three-year-old spilled milk on the couch and it leaked under my computer (without me realizing it), then seeped through the bottom of the computer and into every electronic nook and cranny inside. Yeah. It’s totally broken. When we discussed the situation my husband said, “Well, you need a computer. You are a writer, it’s kind of an important part of your job.”

 

Ah, I love it when he says romantic things like that. Seriously, I loved it. And he’s right. Just like a carpenter needs his tool box full of tools or a photographer her camera–I need a computer to complete so many aspects of my job. The one good thing about loss, even temporary loss, is that it tends to teach you to appreciate thing better.  And I do appreciate my computer now. I do, I really, really I do. 

 

Without a computer I:

Missed a deadline. Well, it wasn’t really a deadline but it was a request from my editor that I had to put off until I could find a working computer. Though she was super understanding, it was still pretty embarrassing. And when I DID find a computer to use, I couldn’t attach the file she needed so I had to type it into the body of the email. I’m still cringing thinking about how many errors were in that transcription. *shudder*

Couldn’t blog. I know you all missed me. It’s not that I think you all can’t live a week without a blog post but I had just finished a massive edit of FRAGMENTS and I wanted to share what I’d learned from it. It’s a rare experience for me to just KNOW what I’m going to blog about so I was sad to miss that opportunity (errrr- or postpone it to my next post)

Couldn’t connect. This was hard. I did have my phone so I could check social media and emails but a cell phone screen is just not my medium. I can never seem to type the words correctly the first time and auto correct always makes me say something silly or vulgar instead. Maybe it’s because I’m from the generation BEFORE the texting generation but I’m not very good at the pecking at a screen thing. Also, I have a wonderful group of online supporters that I was suddenly cut off from. I consider them my coworkers and it was lonely working in an empty office.

Was a horrible critique partner. I have three CP’s that I’m currently working with. They have wonderful projects that I enjoy reading and discussing with them but without a computer I had no way to do either! I feel horrible guilt over the lack of help I’ve given these fine individuals in the past few weeks (ok- I was also AWOL while I edited). Writers help writers. It’s what we do. I love it and I’m so eager to get back to this rewarding process. I had a writer friend send me this blog about why writers don’t compete (Seth’s Blog). It’s a good read!

Struggled with research. When I was a kid my parents bought us the World….well the World Book Encyclopedia. They had a red faux leather binding with gold lettering and my parents even went fancy and got the ones with gold leaf on the edges of the pages. They were beautiful and looked pretty impressive on our family room bookshelf. It was great to have these resource books in our home for school projects or just plain curiosity. But it wasn’t just us kids that enjoyed those books. I’d often find my dad sitting in a random corner of the house quietly reading from one of the scarlet volumes. As a result my dad is a great source of knowledge even outside his scientific expertise. I think I’ve inherited this thirst for random knowledge. Thankfully, during my youth, the internet was invented. Then SEARCH ENGINES were invented. I’m no longer limited to the finite information inside of the World Book. I can type in just about anything and, with a little bit of fact checking, learn about almost anything my brain is hungering to know more about. Okay- enough back story. Lately many of my searches have been writing/story related. I don’t limit my research to the internet but it is for sure the first place I turn. I’ve really missed having that instant answer to my research questions (and random stupid questions I still google).

Couldn’t write. It’s not that I was blocked, it was that I didn’t have a place to put my “brain vomit” (as I like to call first drafts). I know,  I KNOW– pen to paper never hurt anyone and I do love just scrawling out ideas in a notebook but that is not the place for the first draft of Chapter 17. Maybe some people can write in a notebook and then type it all into the computer but I always feel like when the time to input the handwritten material into the computer, I’m basically writing it all over again. Between double thinking word choice and phrases, I also question basic grammar and punctuation. It basically kills my creative process. I handwrite ideas anytime I get them. I handwrite poetry (yes, I write poetry…poorly…but I write it). I handwrite LISTS for everything…so many lists. But, for some reason, my brain doesn’t like me to handwrite fiction. After spending a chunk of time editing and then this time with out a computer…I’m having some major writing withdrawals. I’m so ready to get up and typing again!

Now that the computer is here I have so many things on my “to do” list but I’m sincerely excited about nearly every single one of them. Writing this blog post was one of the items that I can gleefully check off now. So, pat your computer, say thank you to Al Gore (for inventing the internet-duh) and don’t wait for absence to make your heart grow fonder. Take it from me: You are fond. Very very fond. 




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CROWN OF ICE COUNTDOWN — Day 10: S is for Snow

  Posted by LucidDreamer in LucidDreamer's Blog, 31 August 2014 · 18 views

It’s ten days before the release of CROWN OF ICE, and we’ve reached the letter “S”. So, of course — S is for Snow. While writing CROWN OF ICE I had to think about all the different ways I could describe snow, ice, cold, and other ubiquitous weather elements in a story about a Snow […]

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Vague Plot and/or Stakes in Query

  Posted by Michelle4Laughs in Michelle4Laughs: It's in the Details, 31 August 2014 · 24 views





As soon the feedback letters will start going out, I wanted to expand on some of the issues I saw in Pitchwars on a larger scale. Give a little more reasoning behind my decisions. I want to first remind everyone that this is my opinion only and is totally subjective to how I made choices for Pitchwars. I had over seventy entries and could only take one and a half. I was forced by circumstances to look for reasons to say no.

By far the most numerous tag I put on entries was vague stakes and plot in the query letter. And I saw quite a bit of talk about this subject on twitter also. What is vague stakes? Why does it hurt your chances? Let’s see if I can fumble my way to an explanation. (I’ll use my own query letters as examples.)

To me the term vague stakes or plot means putting cliché terms in place of specific details about the story. Cliché terms like dangerous situation, family secret, dark troubles, deadly danger and so on. That tells me something is happening, but really leaves me groping for what.  It was like having parts of a puzzle, but being left to fill them in myself.

For example—pulled off the top of my head: John must find the dark secret or face everlasting doom.  That leaves me going, ‘What secret? What doom?’ It tells me little about what John must actually do or face. Not enough of the puzzle has been filled in.

Now I’ll use my query letter for Kindar’s Cure and take out the details.

Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and her own sickness. When her elder sister is murdered, Kindar is in a deadly situation.
    
But she’s tough.  A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision that could help her. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.

As Mal urges her toward his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army. With danger getting closer, she must escape the army and move forward with Mal or let her country down.

Here you can sort of see what’s happening, but it’s all very vague. What visions? What dark times? The stakes involve a vague danger and letting her country down. Letting it down how? I think you can see that, without details, this query gives just the barest idea of the story. It's too much like a puzzle with missing pieces.

Now here is the same query with the details back in it:


Princess Kindar of Anost dreams of playing the hero and succeeding to her mother’s throne. (character motivation) But dreams are for fools. Reality involves two healthy sisters and a wasting disease of suffocating cough that’s killing her by inches. (what’s stopping her.) When her elder sister is murdered, the blame falls on Kindar, putting her head on the chopping block. (more what’s stopping her.)
    
No one who survives eighteen years of choke lung lacks determination.  A novice wizard, Maladonis Bin, approaches with a vision—a cure in a barren land of volcanic fumes. As choices go, a charming bootlicker that trips over his own feet isn’t the best option, but beggars can’t be choosers. Kindar escapes with Mal and several longtime attendants only to have her eyes opened that her country faces dark times.

Her mother’s decision to close the prosperous mines spurs poverty and joblessness, inciting rebellion and opening Anost to foreign invasion. As Mal urges her toward a cure that will prove his visions, suddenly, an ally turns traitor, delivering Kindar to a rebel army, who have their own plans for a sickly princess. (setup and specific details of plot)

With the killer poised to strike again, the rebels bearing down, and the country falling apart, she must weigh her personal hunt for a cure against saving her people. (the choice she faces.)


Not perfect, but you’ll notice the query doesn’t tell the ending. Instead it leaves us with the CHOICE the main character must make.

Many times I hear that the stakes are left vague in a query to avoid giving away the ending. But the stakes are not the ending! Repeat: The stakes are not the ending. 

What the main character does about the stakes is the ending. The CHOICE the main character makes, the DIRECTION he/she goes--that is ending! You want to leave the reader with a clear vision of what sort of choice is forced upon your character. What bad thing will happen if she/he gets it wrong? What good result can come if it's done right?

By leaving the stakes or plot vague, you take away what is unique about your story. It makes it much harder to entice a reader into wanting to know more.

So many times I hear, but I don't want to spoil the surprise twist inside the story by giving it away in the query. But if the query doesn't entice, will the agent ever read the story? 

Another example from my own queries. In my YA dystopian there is a pretty big surprise. The main character is a rabbit. You'd think I'd want to save that. But I didn't. It was the unique thing about my story. Here is that query:


Seventeen-year-old Little Bit hates the magic anklet fastened on her by so-called friend, Garrett. It keeps her on the farm—keeps her from knowing why cows outnumber humans. Nothing gets out. Not even birds can flee Garrett’s enchanted prison.(all what's stopping her.) With no idea of the outside world, Little Bit wants freedom from the chains trapping her and to understand her past. (her motivation) Unfortunately, Garrett is about as forthcoming as the inanimate gold around her ankle. (what's stopping her.)

Confused by her feelings of exasperation and affection for Garrett, Little Bit escapes into a world corrupted by dark magic and scorched by the sun. Twelve years ago, a supernova devastated the Earth, making the sun lethal and awakening long dormant magic. Traveling by night, she seeks answers about herself, but finds mutated beetles and mega-sized possums. Worse, a nursery rhyming cannibal skulks in the shadows as she follows rumors to a human colony in New Chicago.

But she’s learned only half the story—she’s not human. A lonely Garrett transformed his pet rabbit into a girl. Now only the renewal of Garrett’s spell keeps her on two legs instead of four. (plot setup)  She’ll have to accept Garrett’s chains or lose her humanity forever, unless the sun’s deadly rays awakens magic within her. (choices- accept Garrett controlling her, be a rabbit, or find another way.)


My opinion is that it is better to give away more about the story in hopes of enticing. Generic stakes and plot do not keep people reading. Specific details help your query rather than hurt it.

I'm not saying it's easy. Deciding what specific details to add is very difficult. You don't want to sound like a synopsis, which means you walk a fine line. To me, however, it's worth it.

Having specific plot details and stakes does three things. 1. helps to avoid confusion and feeling like pieces of the story are missing. 2. showcases what is unique about your story. 3. lets readers get a deeper insight into the choice the main character must make and a stronger sense of character personality.

In my Pitchwars search, I always read both the query and the first chapter. The query is obviously not a deal breaker. Very strong first pages can make the difference. But that may not always be the case. Some  agents don't read samples if they don't like the query. You want your query to be as strong as possible. 

So how about it? Do you agree or disagree? Feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments.



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Spin the Bottle and Win!

  Posted by Jean Oram in The Love Bug Blog, 30 August 2014 · 27 views

<div id="attachment_863" style="width: 149px" class="wp-caption alignleft"><a href="http://www.jeanoram....dDreams944K.jpg"><img class=" wp-image-863" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/LoveAndDreams944K-200x300.jpg" alt="Love and Dreams: Book 2 in the Summer Sisters series by Jean Oram" width="139" height="209" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Love and Dreams: Book 2 in the Summer Sisters series by Jean Oram</p></div>
<p>We’re partying to celebrate the launch of <a title="Summer Sisters" href="http://www.jeanoram....summer-sisters/"><em>Love and Dreams</em>,</a> the second book in the Summer Sisters series, as well as the 99 cent box set, <a title="Hot Summer Love box set–Make Summer Last" href="http://www.jeanoram.com/books/hot-summer-love-box-set/"><em>Hot Summer Love</em> </a>which includes full-length novels by me–<em>Love and Rumors</em>, Cali MacKay–<em>One Sweet Summer</em>, Evelyn Adams–<em>Feels Like Home</em>, Julie Farrell–<em>Romancing the Real You</em>, and Jax Cassidy–<em>Brush with Desire.</em></p>
<h3>Play Spin the Bottle and WIN!</h3>
<p>Today, I am hosting giveaways including a game of Spin the Bottle! Want to play? Spin the wheel to find out who you are kissing and then pop over to the<a title="Here's a direct link back to the giveaway!" href="https://www.facebook...nt_mall_comment" target="_blank"> Facebook party</a> and tell me who you got!</p>
<p><iframe src="http://wheeldecide.c...col=&#38;width=" width="500" height="500" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p>
<p>You could be kissing:</p>
<ul>
<li>Oz from <em>Champagne and Lemon Drops</em></li>
<li>Nash from <em>Champagne and Lemon Drops</em></li>
<li>Frankie from <em>Whiskey and Gumdrops</em></li>
<li>Rob from<em> Rum and Raindrops</em></li>
<li>Finian from <em>Love and Rumors</em></li>
<li>Connor for <em>Love and Dreams</em></li>
</ul>
<p>And you could be winning:</p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<div id="attachment_875" style="width: 235px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="http://www.jeanoram....09420553361.jpg"><img class="size-medium wp-image-875" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/IMG_6297-e1409420553361-225x300.jpg" alt="Giveaway by author Jean Oram" width="225" height="300" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Win this!</p></div>
<p>A signed paperback of <em>Champagne and Lemon Drops</em> as well as a <em>Love and Dreams</em> keychain! Open internationally.</p>
<p>Got your man? The one you’re kissing? <a title="Direct link back to the giveaway post at the Hot Summer Love Weekend party" href="https://www.facebook...nt_mall_comment" target="_blank">Come by the party and tell me who in the Spin the Bottle Giveaway post for your chance to win.</a></p>
<div id="attachment_876" style="width: 310px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a title="Hot Summer Love Weekend mega party of goodness" href="https://www.facebook...33642866737301/" target="_blank"><img class="size-medium wp-image-876" src="http://www.jeanoram.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PartyBanner-300x111.jpg" alt="Hot Summer Love box set party" width="300" height="111" /></a><p class="wp-caption-text">Join the party!</p></div>
<p><span style="color: #ff00ff;"><strong>*** While you’re here, stay in touch for more Jean Oram books and fun! Subscribe to my free newsletter: <a title="Newsletter of fun and romance" href="www.jeanoram.com/signup" target="_blank"><span style="color: #ff00ff;">www.jeanoram.com/signup</span></a>.</strong></span></p>
<p>&nbsp;</p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong>~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ </strong></p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....pin-bottle-win/">Spin the Bottle and Win!</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram.com">Jean Oram</a>.</p>

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The Saturday Slash

  Posted by bigblackcat97 in Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, 30 August 2014 · 24 views

<div>Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description&nbsp;<a href="http://www.rclewisbooks.com/" target="_blank">RC Lewis</a>&nbsp;and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.<br /><br /><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s400/NewestSatSlash.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="clear: right; float: right; margin-bottom: 1em; margin-left: 1em;"><img border="0" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-oZ52KunZpiM/T_zy5Q521TI/AAAAAAAAArU/EQOi-3pr48Q/s320/NewestSatSlash.jpg" height="320" width="247" /></a>We all know the first line of a query is your "hook." I call the last line the "sinker." You want it to&nbsp;punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.<br /><br />If you're looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.agentqueryconnect.com/" target="_blank">AgentQueryConnect</a>. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don't be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey - the query. My comments appear in&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">green</span>.<br /><br />Evlalia welcomes new technology in her life even less than she does people, but when her human servants choose the workhouse over her, a magical servant programmed to obey her every word becomes one Albion fashion she's interested in following. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Hmm... I definitely like the hook because&nbsp;the idea here is fun and interesting, but you'll want to rephrase and possibly break up into two sentences. I had to read twice to understand what you were saying and you've also got a "servant" echo in there.</span><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span></div><div>These 'units' are summoned from the Internet and come with unique software: some read or run <span style="color: #6aa84f;">definitely unsure what use of "read" or "run" is being used here. They are robots and you&nbsp;just mentioned technology so I don't know if we're talking about files, or more human verbs.&nbsp;</span>quicker than a forming thought, others grow their toenails or eyelashes six times faster than normal <span style="color: #6aa84f;">why would this be a positive trait?</span>. Tace is a rare teleporting unit left handless and on a ventilator by his last user, and days away from being switched off&nbsp;<span style="color: #6aa84f;">awkward phrasing here</span>. But Evlalia is determined to find him worth saving <span style="color: #6aa84f;">awk phrasing again - is she&nbsp;determined to "find him" or determined that he is "worth saving?"</span>, if only to prove everyone else wrong. He'll be the one getting used to her <span style="color: #6aa84f;">unsure what this means</span>, and a mute unit should ultimately make her life even quieter than before. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Why is he mute? And wouldn't being handless be a detriment to a servant?&nbsp;</span></div><div><br /></div><div>Not everyone is as desperate to forget the past as she is. Units have perfect memories, and not all of them are fully controlled by humans after all. Evlalia never intended to become close to Tace, and certainly not close enough for him to be dragged into her arguments and hurt in her place. She's started seeing him as irreplaceable; but his old user has reappeared, and he always saw their separation as temporary. It's hard enough for Evlalia to ask for help, but now Tace's found other people to listen to. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Why would him finding other people to listen to have anything to do with her asking for help? And who would she be asking for help from?&nbsp;</span></div><div><br /></div><div>Evlalia might have to trust more than her words this time. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Not sure what this means? Is she a reader / writer? If so that needs to be made clearer, sooner.</span></div><div><br /></div><div>THE MATTER THAT YOU READ is a 120,000 word slice of life/urban fantasy novel, set in an alternate Edwardian England. <span style="color: #6aa84f;">Hmm... in that case I'd say it's actually&nbsp;steampunk. Also, I had no indication in the query that this was Edwardian England. You'll want to do some rephrasing to get that in there before your specs state the fact.</span><br /><span style="color: #6aa84f;"><br /></span><span style="color: #6aa84f;">Overall I like your concept, but you need to get more of your MC's personality out there. What do you mean by "her arguments?" It sounds like she's often in some kind of struggle one way or another, but why&nbsp;would that be, if she's antisocial? Also there's quite a few sentences that had to be untangled in order for me to grasp their meaning. Get the awkward phrasing smoothed out and maybe make your hook into two sentences. Other than I think your concept definitely sounds&nbsp;interesting.</span></div>

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Research Ramblings: The Spartan Citizenry, Part 18

  Posted by Sakura Eries in Sakura Eries' Blog: Keeping It In Canon …mostly, 29 August 2014 · 26 views

As noted in my May 2, 2014 post, Spartan warriors were an interesting bunch, and I’m continuing my series on them with today’s fact:

The Spartan community encouraged all citizens to hunt.

In fact, they had an interesting policy in place to promote the activity. Hunting required horses and hunting dogs, animals privately owned by the rich. However, if poor citizens wanted to hunt, rich citizens had to make them available at any time.

Tune in next week for more about the Spartans!




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FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency

  Posted by Amy Trueblood in Chasing The Crazies , 29 August 2014 · 30 views

      If you’re like me, you toil for hours editing and fine-tuning the first pages of your manuscript. You look at the first lines to make sure they are compelling and tight.  You examine the next few paragraphs, hoping your MC’s voice is already taking hold of the reader.   The First Five Frenzy […]

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Max Wirestone - Query Kombat 2014 SUCCESS STORY!

  Posted by SC_Author in SC Write--Writing, Publishing, and Harry Potter, 29 August 2014 · 34 views

I'M SO SO HAPPY BECAUSE I CAN SHARE THE SUCCESS STORY OF ONE OF MY QUERY KOMBAT 2014 PICKS!!!!! Max wrote A COZY FOR GEEKS which was the NA Champion. Take it away Max!


There's a certain "there and back again" quality to my story.

A COZY FOR GEEKS was my first attempt at novel writing, but I had flirted with success at screenwriting somewhat in my twenties. That experience-- which involved terrifying conversations with agents that led me nowhere-- had ultimately left me limping away from the writing world, a trail of blood and ego behind me. It was ugly-- although in retrospect, most of my wounds were imaginary. My confession: I was afraid of being a Failed Writer-- to the point that was I willing to give it up. I put it all behind me and instead focused on good, solid life goals: Husband, Librarianship, Kids, Xbox Achievements.

For a while.

Time passed, and through the magic of aging (and probably parenthood,) I found that I suddenly didn't care if anyone else regarded me as a Failed Writer. The thirty-something version of me, paunchier, and with considerably less hair, suddenly regarded the twenty-something version of me as some sort of self-involved thick-haired doofus. And so I started writing again.

I did it completely alone, in secret. No writing groups. No community. When I started submitting, in April, I was sending to ONE AGENT AT A TIME. I was working through WRITER'S MARKET alphabetically.

I eventually started following agents on twitter, and I heard about Query Kombat at the last minute. What the hey, right? I figured I'd lose in the first round (and Carol Ayer's DEAD PRINCESSES DON'T KISS was stiff competition), but I soldiered through. I eventually made it all the way to the quarter finals, where I was slain by the fabulous Betsy Aldredge.

Then the requests started.

I got three requests from the contest itself. But after the feedback from the first round, I had applied changes to my query. Hot changes! Awesome changes! And I wanted to test them out. So I started querying wider. Suddenly, I was rolling in requests.

Next came a "let's chat about your book" email just a few weeks after the competition. Can I just take a second to say that I found all of these conversations a little weird? More power to you if you instantly connected with your agent, but I was like a nervous first-date. I was awkward and bumbling, and that twenty-something version of me who had been rejected by film agents was listening in on my conversation and whispering things like, "run, you fool! It's a TRAP!"

Despite my ramblings-- I ineptly described my next project as a "comedy about the death of libraries"-- I still got an offer of rep. I told the agent thank you and that I would get back in a week. I then DM'd incoherent messages to amazing QK Judges Glen Coco and Omar Comin (N.K. Traver and Tatum Flynn), the content of which was basically: ZOMG!111!!!!1!1! Only longer. I may have initially gone over the 140 character limit. Also there was drinking.

I ultimately got four offers of representation (with a fifth 'let's talk' that came too late,) and so I got to repeat my awkward conversation three more times. I eventually started prefacing the talk with an admission that I was weird at this. Not in real-life, just this. The agents seemed to understand. Although, by conversation number four, I wasn't awkward at all. Talking with agents, like querying and synopsis-writing and everything else along this voyage is just another task that practice makes you good at.

Anyway, the agents were all awesome. I described them to my husband in byte-sized terms. Book blogger, enthusiastic new guy, geek enthusiast, editor-turned-agent. I DMd Tatum Flynn relentlessly, as well as writer friends I had made along the way. People said things like, "go with your gut," and "trust your heart," which sound good, except that my gut did not have a lot of insight. Mostly it was hungry.

Then came the awful bit: I had to pick one of them. If you've ever had the fantasy that at the end of all this rejection you might get the joy of turning down an agent for a change, I'm hear to tell you: it's awful! I liked all four agents. I would have been thrilled to be represented by any of them. Of all the things I'd been forced to write on this process, the rejection letters to agents were the most painful. It's like writing a Dear John letter, only worse. Blech. Just blech. 

In the end, I settled with Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates. Caitlin represented lots of books I have in my own library, had a Hugo winner under her belt, and had given me scads of intriguing and detailed notes about my project. She also seemed supportive of a double-genre approach, with the sensible proviso that I write quickly. Now that I've been with her for a few weeks, and have made the first round of changes to my manuscript, I can't imagine having done anything else.

So that's my story. Shaggy, but true. And for you twenty-somethings, if things don't work out now, there's always hope a few years down the road. Worked for me.

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Max Wirestone can be found on Twitter here!

CONGRATS MAX!!!! Great job, seriously. Everyone, make sure to congratulate Max on Twitter. Good luck with everything!


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The Duel

  Posted by Professor VJ Duke in The Punchy Lands!, 28 August 2014 · 22 views

I would think that duels are supposed to be interesting.

All the late night party people–or, I should say: all the people at the late night party–were gathered around Schwarz Tauptinker and Mr. Ratherquite as they prepared to have their duel.

They had been preparing for the last half-hour.

This professor was standing next to Daddy Salami. You see, I wanted to see if Manly-Man and Ruber Salami would actually do something to him.

You never know about such things.

They had said they would.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Ratherquite called out. “We are ready to begin. Thank you for your patience. We will try to keep the following duel entertaining–as well as suitable for the ladies.”

Mr. Ratherquite’s Ladies, who were watching with delight, giggled.

“Chickit, I’m ready!” Schwarz announced.

And this is when the professor noticed the weapon of choice: pistols from the 12th century. And if they didn’t have pistols then, from the 13th. And if not then, the 14th. Basically, these pistols must have been made at the earliest time possible.

Schwarz was putting grass into his barrel.

“You won’t win that way, stupid cur!” Salami yelled out.

“Oh, I will,” Schwarz returned. “I already put the that little gray ball in–oh yeah!”

Salami laughed, and leaned over to me, “Watch and see as this sucker blows up his cur face!”

I nodded.

And that’s when I saw Manly-Man and Ruber out of the corner of my eye.

They were sneaking up on Daddy Salami, whose eyes, I should mention, were glowing green.

Mr. Ratherquite and Schwarz stepped away from each other.

“As soon as I say go,” Mr. Ratherquite said (he was red in the face), “we will both fire.”

The crowd murmured.

Bang!

“Go!” Mr. Ratherquite yelled.

Bang!

Schwarz had fired first. (He said later that he had never agreed to Mr. Ratherquite’s conditions.)

And Schwarz’s shot went wide.

But it was a hit.

It hit Daddy Salami.

“Cur!” Salami yelled as he fell.

And then this professor heard Ruber say, “We got him now!” And he rushed forward.

It was a mistake.

Mr. Ratherquite’s gun went off next.

And it was a hit.

Ruber fell to the ground next to his dad.

“Ruber, me boy,” Salami said. “What ya doin’ here, huh?”

Around this time, Mr. Ratherquite and Schwarz were shaking hands.

LottieOllie–who I happened to notice (professor warriors notice most things)–had a smile on her face, as did Manly-Man.

Amelia was missing–which was a pity.

For she could have been one of the injured.

Both injured parties were carted off to Scientist’s abode.

It was a dangerous party.




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Little Bird, Broken Monster: Why my main character is a foster kid

Posted by Selene Bell in Confessions of a Binge Reader, 27 August 2014 · 33 views

The main character in Little Bird, Broken Monster, the novel I’m querying, has an obsession with crime statistics. (The Bureau of Justice Statistics is her favorite government agency.) It’s part method to avoid trouble, part distraction so 17-year-old Wren Butler doesn’t have to think about her own life. She’s a foster kid who, at the start, sees a future of nothing more than menial jobs and poverty. It’s a future awaiting thousands of real foster kids in this country today.

As Wren could tell you, by the age 24, only 6 percent of foster kids get any kind of college degree, but 34 percent have been arrested. And the most recent data available say there were almost 400,000 foster kids in the U.S. as of 2012, so the issue is significant. Despite the Great Recession and the whole batch of college graduates who couldn’t immediately find work, a good education and a degree are still the best ticket to the middle class—and all the luxuries and security that affords.

Of course, numbers are just numbers and it can be hard to see real people in them. That’s one of the reasons I created Wren. The transition from teenager to adult is critical for foster kids. Those who do consider college can find the enrollment process and starting at a huge professional institution to be so intimidating that they give up. My novel obliquely deals with Wren’s insecurities about things most new college students don’t give a second thought to, or that their parents take care of. So I was pleased to find an article written for my newspaper’s Faith & Values section about a Christian college that offers four-year scholarships for foster kids.

The teen who starts the article has been a foster kid with stints of homelessness. The first time she attended a church service on campus and saw all the other students, this was her reaction: “I thought I didn’t have what they had,” she says in the story. “I thought, ‘I’m struggling already. I can’t afford school and to work at the same time.’ ”

Thomas White, the president of Cedarville University, established the scholarship. He has a 9-year-old adopted daughter and said the idea came to him as he looked at Ohio’s foster-care registry and wondered what would happen to the older teenagers. “Who’s going to demonstrate love to them and say they have value and purpose to God and have value and purpose to us?” he asked. “It’s just a way to give back to the community.”

And to change these teens’ lives. The young women in this article clearly had difficult childhoods, if you can call them childhoods at all, and now they have a chance to build something more from their lives, one that I hope comes with extra support. Just giving a kid the money to do something doesn’t mean they can figure out the rest by themselves, especially if they’ve never had a good, close-up view of someone else accomplishing such a feat.

I suspect lots of foster kids don’t have that kind of role model. (See Wren’s 6 percent-34 percent statistic.) I’m not sure the foster system or high schools, though well intentioned, provide it. In fact, many public schools in the city I live in are failing their students, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume the majority of foster kids attend public schools. The state of education in this country, especially for poor kids in urban areas, is sad. And the result of that, I believe, is a class of people who will struggle their whole lives to get ahead. For foster kids, who start life with the least stable families and support systems, that just intensifies the tragedy. It breaks my heart to know kids out there will never get the opportunity my daughter will.

So, cheers to Cedarville University. I hope there are other universities that do this, so it’s not only the religious foster kids who can hope for this kind of opportunity.

www.selene-bell.com

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Wednesday Words: Back to Gaiman!

  Posted by DebsBlueRoses in The Writer Ambitious, 27 August 2014 · 29 views

Happy Humpday. :)

On Wednesdays, I use Random.org to pick out a page and a line of the book I'm currently reading/about to read so you can all see what I'm reading!

Yesterday, I finally returned to the library to pick up some books to read. lol I decided to go with Neil Gaiman's American Gods, the precursor to his Anansi Boys, which was my first Gaiman read about a year back. I'm excited to see how this book is, because I loved Anansi Boys.

There are 541 pages (ooh, an interview in the back) in American Gods, so Random, do your thing!

....................................Page 345.

There are 32 lines on that page, so from 1 to 32 I present to you...

....................................Line 14.

"Now, my mom's family were European Jewish," continued Sam, "from one of those places that used to be communist and now are just chaos..."

A very interesting line (my sister was explaining Communism vs. Socialism to me just the other day!). I can't wait to read this and more books by Mr. Gaiman.

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Kevin Love introduced by Cavaliers

Posted by Monicoo in Monicoo's Blog, 26 August 2014 · 24 views

Kevin Love introduced by Cavaliers When Kevin Love's phone rang shortly after he learned LeBron James was signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers, his own future became clear.

Love made it known to the Minnesota Timberwolves after his conversation with James last month that Cleveland was where he wanted to be traded. That allowed the Cavs to make a strong trade offer that included Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and a 2015 first-round pick, and soon a deal was struck.

"LeBron signed to come back, and a few hours later he called me and I said 'I'm in,'" Love said Tuesday at a news conference. "That had a lot to do with my decision. It means a lot to be a part of this organization. ... Everything in my entire life for the last six years had led me up to this opportunity."

Love expressed to the Wolves in June that he wanted to be traded or he would leave as a free agent next summer. That eventually forced the Wolves to make the deal with the Cavs that was finalized last week.

But Love said Tuesday he currently has no plans to sign an extension with the Cavs. Love signed a four-year, $61 million extension in 2012, but the 2016-17 season, worth $16.7 million, is a player option. Love is also not planning to pick up that option and will play out the final year of his contract with the Cavs.

Love did say he plans to be with the team long term.

"[An extension] hasn't been talked about," Love said. "I'm committed to this team and committed long term to the end goal, which is to win a championship."

It is a risk the Cavs were willing to take. They had been after Love aggressively for months and made it a major priority after James urged them to sweeten trade offers after he signed last month.

"This is culmination of a year and a half of conversations to trade for [Love]," Cavs general manager David Griffin said. "This is a player that, quite frankly, fits us as well as any player could have. LeBron makes a great deal of these things possible by his presence alone. That piece had a great deal to do with Kevin's comfort with joining us. Hopefully we'll [have] him for a very long time."

Love will wear No. 0 for the Cavs. His No. 42, which he wore with the Wolves and at UCLA, is Nate Thurmond's and retired in Cleveland. Love said he reached out to Thurmond, who cleared him to wear the number again, but Love decided to go with No. 0 as an honor to the first number he wore as a kid and because of his home state of Oregon.

"I thought this was a chance to start fresh," Love said, "to pick a new number that would suit me."

As for how he will mesh with his new coach David Blatt and how he would fit into the Cavs' new offensive and defensive systems, he left all that for later. But after not making the playoffs for the first six seasons of his career and never playing alongside an All-Star, Love said he is looking forward to the season.

"We know LeBron is the focal point," Love said. "But we have a lot of damn good players."

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New Author Event: Word of Art September 5

  Posted by Deb Borys in Debra R. Borys, 26 August 2014 · 30 views

I am excited to be one of the writers chosen to participate in the InPrint Word of Art Event on Friday, September 5 from 4-8 pm in Rockford IL. For those of you unfamiliar, Word of Art is a collaboration … Continue reading

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Feelings from the Heart, No More

Posted by Marzie Malfoy in Slytherin House Poetry Reading, 25 August 2014 · 24 views
slytherin, original works, heart and 3 more...

The mind kept in captivity,
Denied the freedom of life.
Crevasses from where you can dig
My heart from.

My disposition,
Thrown into the ditch.
Surviving not
Because of the witch.

Heart and mind,
Creating the fissure.
Apathetic they are altered.
In maturity,

they become callous.


Building the lacuna
Of the dungeons,
I awake no more.
My heart...

No more.



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Saturday Situations

Posted by MelGrinder89 in Writing woes and wants, 23 August 2014 · 58 views

I'm going to try to post a blog once a week. Maybe I'll look for a website to make a blog and put the link on here.
Any suggestions on what website I should use?

I want to write, but unfortunately, household chores are calling to be done. Then I have a bunch of back to school paperwork that needs filled out before I can sit and write.

And as far as writing goes, I'm in a bit of a pickle. I have a story that I need go through and edit and rework a bit. Once it's finished, I can start querying.

Sadly, my brains not working in that way right now. I've had a story stuck in my head for awhile now. I finally got it into a story that I can write. It encompasses my love for drama, horror, romance, mermaids, vampires, fairies, angels, and Gods. Wow that's a lot lol. For the first time I'm not outlining, I'm getting a quick idea down for every book that's going to be in the series and then writing it. I started writing the first book, now I'm almost 30K words into it. Which I'm actually very proud of. Haha!

I got that far and I didn't have any outlines. Just a rough idea. Along the way more ideas kept coming that I needed to jot down, and the journal I was writing it all down in is breaking! :( I've had to tape the pages just to keep them all in this journal. I need to type it all into the computer so I don't loose anything. Then I'll probably get a new binder one of these weeks and keep all of my notes and everything in it. So that way when I'm not on my computer and I get an idea, I can quickly jot it down and see where it will fit into the series.

I had only meant for a few books, now it's turned into something a lot lot more than that. >_< Not sure how to work with that, but at least the first book can be considered a stand alone. I leave enough unresolved for a second book, but there's an actual end to that story. Most of the stories are based ever so many years after the previous one. Some continue directly after the last one.
At least that's the plan. I had only meant for like 3-6 books. Before I knew it, there was a grand total of 18 planned books. I may not have that many, but that's the way the story is looking right now.

*sigh* Oh well. Merdemonel promises to be something I can enjoy. Even if people don't read it.

Merdemonel is a story about a young woman. Demelza (Demi for short) was born a Goddess, daughter of the God of Air (generally has the appearance of an angel) and the Goddess of the Sea (generally has the appearance of a mermaid). Her true form was that of a merangel. Half mermaid, half angel. She was the first pure Goddess ever born. The rest were all born between a union of humans or other humanoid creatures and were demigods. Demelza was born a pure Goddess, and prophecies said she would be the most powerful of them all. As her mother was the most beautiful, she was also going to be exceptionally beautiful.

Even while pregnant, evil targeted the Goddess of the Sea in hopes of killing the child before she was born. After her birth, the attempts were even worse. In an attempt to save her life, so she could grow and not have to worry about evil pursuing her, the Gods turned her human and sent her to Earth so she could grow into an adult without living in fear everyday of her life. They agreed they would check back when she was an adult, but otherwise let her be.

Twenty years later when they checked, she was married and happy with her life, so they let her be again. Content to let her live as a human and not have her join their ranks. So long as she was happy. When she turns twenty-four, the evil catches up with her. Almost a year after her husbands tragic death, Demi is lured into a trap by one of the Circle of Six. A cult of demons with only two goals, destroy the Gods and get more power. If they were to possess her and gain her power, their goals would be met.

To save her sister, her friends, and her daughter (who thankfully was not in the trap but somewhere safe) Demi sacrifices herself to the Demon. Three weeks later, the Demon is slayed by the God of Death himself, and Demi is revived into the Goddess she was always meant to be, but with one huge difference. Because of the three weeks the demon spent trying to possess her, Demi absorbed several demonic powers and demonic tendencies. Because of this, she was now mermaid, demon, and angel.

The Gods gave her the title of Merdemonel. After declaring her unwillingness to join their ranks just yet, Demi returns to Earth to finish raising her daughter. Upon reaching adulthood her daughter could decided to embrace her demigoddess nature, or remain human. Demi would make her decision when, and only when, her daughter had reached hers.

That's the idea for the first book, and the start of the series.

And now my dishes are dry, so I better get my procrastinating butt back in the kitchen and finish doing them.

Washing dishes by hand isn't so bad. It's doing laundry by hand that really really really really really ticks me off. Laundry Matt? You suggest. Not unless I want to pay $20 or more a week!

At least this time I wasn't ranting a whole whole lot about the domesticating chores I have.

Can't promise the same for next time. ;) Thanks for taking the time to read this blog till the end. If you have any, please leave comments or questions, and I will be more than happy to answer.

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A Tribute To All My Teacher Friends

  Posted by Joe Stephens in My Train of Thought, 23 August 2014 · 25 views

It's the first weekend of the school year. We made it through the first week! I would love to tell you that I got lots of writing done, but that would just be a lie. All my teacher friends know exactly what I'm talking about when it comes to the first week of school. There are a few things that are just the sad realities of life for us.

First, we need lots of sleep. I was out cold by 9:30 every night. And it was a struggle most nights to get to that hour. One night, because my washer died and I'm too cheap to buy one yet, I had to go to my parents' house to do a couple loads of laundry (because I literally had no choice if I wanted to be clothed for work the next day). I was so tired when the last load was folded that I actually toyed with the idea of crashing there so I wouldn't have to go to all the trouble of driving home until morning. And I live less than five minutes from their house! More mature heads prevailed and I went home, but it was a struggle.

Second, we're in pure survival mode. I did nothing that was beyond the basest activities needed to survive. Dishes? I have extras. Paper towels on the dispenser? Nah, they can sit on the counter. Make dinner? A peanut butter sandwich is good enough. The night I realized I had a frozen pizza was such a celebration! I just had to talk myself into not eating it uncooked like a giant bread-and-cheese popsicle. Mad props to those of you with miniature humans for whom you are responsible. I'm amazed I kept my fur children from starving.

Why are we like this? Is it the hours? No, most teachers are as busy during the summer as they are during school, but at other things. It has to do with the emotional drain. If you're not a teacher, you don't have any idea how much of a psychic toll it takes on you to be on all day for your kids. It's just not natural to be as happy and upbeat and fun as I am in my classroom all day. And many of my friends are like me, with kids in their rooms from the time they unlock them until time to go home. I have fifth period plan, which means I'm already hosting two lunches worth of kids in my room when I'm not teaching classes.

And I'm not complaining about that. I love it. I love every minute that I get to spend with these kids that I grow really quickly to love like my own children. And in a few weeks, my mind, my body, and my spirit will adjust to this and I'll be able to do normal household chores again without giving myself a pep talk.

Until then, here's to a spoon and a jar of peanut butter for dinner.







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Writing Success Goal Monday #1

  Posted by Lora Palmer in Lora Palmer's Blog, 12 August 2014 · 13 views


Setting writing goals and keeping track of progress can be a great way to achieve success. They'll also serve as a reminder to enjoy and celebrate the smaller, short-term accomplishments along the journey. Each week, I'll post my writing goals and invite you all to post yours and update us on your progress. I've seen something like this on another blog where it's a summer feature, and it seems like a great way to encourage each other as a regular feature here.

This week, here are my writing goals;

1. Finish working on the query for RED SKY to get it ready for WriteOnCon 2014 (August 26-27). There's not too much left to do with this one, but I do want to incorporate a hint of romance to show that it is a YA rather than MG fic.

2. Finish edits for MIRRORMASTERS for possible entry into Pitch Wars and for WriteOnCon. This goal is going to take longer, because I'm anticipating at least cutting two characters and focusing a bit more on the main character Leah's story arc--the things she learns and how she grows during the course of the story.

3. Write at least 200 words a day on RED SKY. Maybe it's not such an ambitious goal, but it's an achievable goal with the time I have.

So, that's it for this week! What are your writing goals for the week? 


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A Little Late...

  Posted by K McClelland in Teardrops On My Book, 07 August 2014 · 14 views

I just realized that it's the first Thursday of this month and that means I missed the first Wednesday. And then I come to my lovely little neglected blog to see I haven't posted since June...Damn. I'm sorry about that.

(Make sure to go visit the Insecure Writer's Support Group website and the wonderful Alex J Cavanaugh as well.)

A couple of real quick things because unfortunately I don't really have more than a moment to post.

June and July flew right on by faster than ever before. This was the fastest, busiest, craziest summer I've had in all my 28 years. I've caught up, got behind, caught up, edited, worked a lot for free, worked a lot for not free, did a decent job of keeping my kids occupied, did a not so decent job of keeping my kids occupied, and did a barely decent job of not going crazy in all the madness.

Writing is happening, every once in a while. I've been reading a lot too, only as I've had time though. And I worked on crits, but then lost my internet for a bit and I've been behind since. But now I have to wait for AQC to come back up so I can get caught up again.

I think my biggest insecurity I've been feeling recently is that my current MS that I've been editing isn't really worth it and my other completed MS that I should just query or self pub is garbage even though I put a TON of effort into fixing it. I love both stories. And I really love the one I'm editing. But I've started posting it for critique and the crits (only chapter one...) on it have brought back old feelings from the first MS I had critted and I start worrying that I'm going to be in the same place I was. Mega editing and rewriting until I have a story that I love and hate all in one. Hopefully it's not going to end up like that and hopefully eventually I won't have anything but love for my first MS.

Last thing, I'm thinking I need to switch my blog. I'm not sure exactly what I want to do because I actually like blogger and Idk if I'll like something else as much. But I've had trouble with my blogger stuff ever since I got this laptop with Win 8. So, if anyone has any ideas/suggestions I'll gladly take 'em.

I hope everyone else is having a wonderful summer and I'll see you soon. (Hopefully sooner than a month or two.)

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