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There's An App For That: Apps for Authors

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 27 August 2015 · 35 views

by MarcyKate Connolly

If there’s one thing most writers would like more of it’s time. Time is precious, time is words on the page.

This is a thing that really hits home when you’re launching a book, but writers at all stages feel this pressure. Fortunately, there are apps that can help streamline your process, keep you organized, and most importantly save you time. Since I never leave home without my iPhone, I thought I'd share a few apps I’ve found particularly useful:


Dropbox

Available on: Web, Desktop, iPhone, Android

What it is: Have multiple computers and devices you use to write your books and collect notes? Save them in Dropbox and keep everything synced across devices.

Why I love it: Ever had a laptop or device stolen? Or malfunction and lose a whole day’s work? If you saved your work in Dropbox , your files are still available to access on the web (and download to your new computer/device when you replace it!). Basically this is a MUST HAVE for writers!

Zoho Projects

Available on: Web, iPhone, Android

What it is: A project management app in your pocket (and web browser!). The free version of this app has a calendar to track things like events, and a task and milestone function to keep your writing on track and meeting deadlines. You can also track your progress on how much of the task you’ve completed, add notes, and even invite people to your project (handy if you’re co-authoring a book!)

Why I love it: I have book ideas coming out my ears, guys. This app is a necessity for me so I can keep track of which project I’m supposed to work on now, and when I want (or need) to complete it by. Also hugely helpful in ensuring I do all the big and little things I need to do to promote my books. I use this daily, and even setup the paid version for my day job (and my employer loves it!).

Save the Cat! Lite (also paid version with more features)

Available on: Desktop, iPhone (lite), iPhone (full paid version)

What it is: Do you love Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beatsheets? Well, there’s an app for that! Comes in free (Lite) or Paid versions ($21.99).

Plot your book on the go! Pro features also include scene cards, characters, locations, notes, and more.  However, if you just like to plot beats on the go, the free version should totally meet your needs.

Why I love it: It’s Beatsheets meets Scrivener on your phone = WINNING (especially for those of us who have been waiting for a Scrivener app FOREVER.). Basically, it’s my two main writing tools in one, and that’s pretty dang awesome.

Evernote

Available on: Web/Desktop, iPhone, Android

What it is: Available in 3 versions: Basic (free), Pro ($29.99/month), or Premium ($49.99/year). Create “notebooks” to store various notes, pictures, checklists, audio files, and more.

Why I love it: I create a notebook for each project I’m working on so I can jot notes down on the go, store photos of places I visit that are featured in the books or remind me of the books, and keep track of revision ideas and to dos.

Expensify

Available on: Web, iPhone, Android

What it is: App for the iPhone and your browser to track expenses by category (things like postage and mileage, etc) and give you a handy PDF export at the end of the year. You can enter expenses manually or scan your receipts. The free version has plenty of features but those who want the bells and whistles can upgrade.

Why I love it: Taxes! Also, it’s very good to know how much I spend on each category every year. I had no clue I spent so much on Postage but uh, yeah. Kind of a huge expense when you add it all up!



MarcyKate Connolly writes middle grade and young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and spends far too much time babbling on Twitter. Her debut upper middle grade fantasy novel, MONSTROUS, is out now from HarperCollins Children's Books, and the companion novel RAVENOUS will be out on 2/9/16.



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Lead Me Gently, Author...

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 24 August 2015 · 53 views

by Cat Woods

When I open a book, I embark on a magical journey. The path is set before me, and page by page, I explore a new world until I reach the destination at The End. If I'm lucky, I will walk away changed somehow. Your words will have touched some inner part of me and asked me to evaluate and re-evaluate the way I live my life and the way I see the world. It will challenge me to be a better person, one more cognizant of the people and places around me. It will fill some small part of me I didn't know was empty.

And so I ask, lead me gently, author, and I will follow.




Help me discover amazing gems off the beaten path.







But please, please, please do not tell me what you want me to know.

Rather, let me attach my own meaning to your words. Ignite my senses so I can take away what I need from your writing. Help me feel your book in my heart and soul, not just swallow the sustenance you believe I need.

Tread carefully and don't moralize. Let your characters grow so that I may, too.

Guide me, don't instruct me.
Share without preaching.

Dear Author, I've been told that readers are lazy, that they need you to draw them a map from Point A to Point B. That assumption scares me. It means you are responsible for making the reading experience equal for every reader. It means there would be no need for book discussions because we've all walked in each other's footsteps over the same rocky terrain with our eyes trained on a sole destination. It means we will miss the greatest opportunity to look past the words and see between the lines.

We will miss not only the forest, but also the trees.
We will fail to see the magic hiding right beside us.



And so I ask, dear author, don't give your ending away on page one, and don't beat me over the head with your message.
Don't foreshadow so much...


...that you ruin the surprise.



Your book isn't a soap box.
It's a gift to the world.


Treat it as such.

How do you share your passion without crossing the line? At what point do we risk losing our readers to a pedantic attitude? When is it our job to connect the dots, and when do we allow readers to make their own connections? Is it important that our readers understand and feel exactly what we want them to, or is it more important that they walk away from our writing with the message they need?

Curious minds want to know.

Cat is an avid hiker and lover of all things amazing. She enjoys exploring off-the-beaten-path with her daughter in State Parks across the upper Midwest and thinks that regardless of the destination, the journey is half the fun. When she's not hiking in the woods, she's blogging at Words from the Woods or writing juvenile lit from her little house on the prairie.



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ISBNs: An elementary primer

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 17 August 2015 · 64 views

by Matt Sinclair

A few years ago, when I was planning to publish what became Spring Fevers, I started to look into what was involved in becoming a publisher. I was a neophyte to the whole independent publishing thing, but it seemed pretty exciting and I wanted to learn.

Initially, we planned to do everything electronically. It soon became apparent that I’d need to either use an ISBN provided for free by the distributors I’d be going through or buy one for myself. Free is one of my favorite words, but when big companies – or even medium-sized companies – offer you something for free, there’s usually a catch or at least a reason that is to their advantage. Well, in this case the reason was because they became the actual publisher.

In the United States, ISBNs, which is an abbreviation for International Standard Book Numbers, are administered by R.R. Bowker – and only Bowker. Each country has a single representative agency responsible for the registration of ISBNs. I imagine those folks around the world know each other pretty well and have little get-togethers every year where they talk about ISBNs while sipping wine and noshing on grapes and cheese. Anyway, the folks at Bowker sell the ISBNs to publishers.

Of course, in the twenty-first century, a lot of authors have decided to become their own publishers. Self-publishing is not a new thing. It’s been around for a long, long time. But it’s become super easy in the past five years or so when e-readers became popular -- and especially now that half of humanity reads books on their phones. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much.

So that free ISBN that Smashwords or Amazon Kindle will give you? It means they’re the publisher of your book. Now, for a lot of writers that’s perfectly fine. I mean who needs any additional headaches? In my case, I was publishing a collection of stories by several different writers. I’d had to develop contracts with them all.

To my mind, it would have been irresponsible for me to take the free ISBN when I’d entered into agreements with all these authors. Looking at the prices of ISBNs, however, I understood why many writers might opt for free. To buy a single ISBN cost upwards of $125. If the book had any success and inspired us to create a second anthology, then I’d presumably pay the money again. Or I could buy ten ISBNs for $250. It was one more milestone in my path toward creating Elephant’s Bookshelf Press.

In a little more than a month, EBP will publish its tenth book, Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly. We’ve long since exhausted the ten ISBNs I bought back in 2012, and I bought a hundred more. So, I have ISBNs “to spare,” or so it would seem. But that’s the funny thing about ISBNs: you can’t give them away. What was it Uncle Ben in Spiderman said … With great cost comes great responsibility? Something like that.

As I mentioned earlier, each ISBN is associated with the publisher. So if I let a friend use an ISBN, I’d be publishing their book. That might not be a bad thing; I know some pretty darn good writers. But it’s something that carries responsibilities. At least nominally, the revenues would be associated with me and my company, for instance. I’ve learned that a good way to spoil a friendship is to get money involved. But even if that situation had been addressed appropriately to begin with, you might also have advertising issues to contend with as well as promotional sales and opportunities. All of a sudden, you and your buddy are in business together. Again, that could be wonderful. Or it could ruin a friendship.

That said, most self-publishers I know have opted for the free ISBN. And to my knowledge, they’ve not had any major problems and do not regret their decision.


Matt Sinclair, a New York City-based journalist and fiction writer, is also president and chief elephant officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, which recently published Billy Bobble Makes a Magic Wand by R.S. Mellette and Tales from the Bully Box, a collection of anti-bullying stories edited by Cat Woods. In September, EBP will publish its latest anthology, Horrors: Real, Imagined, and Deadly. Matt also blogs at the Elephant's Bookshelf and is on Twitter @elephantguy68.


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The Fear

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 13 August 2015 · 36 views

I am studying for a degree in Economics. I am the type of person that economists call, kindly, "risk-averse." This is a much more forgiving term than "a large wimp," but in my mind, they're synonyms. I admit it! I am a large wimp. This is objectively true. I hate roller-coasters because of the panic centers in my brain that helpfully supply scenarios in which I fly, screaming, off roller-coasters and to my doom. I hate walking home alone at night because of an overactive imagination, which plants serial killers behind every ominous-looking dumpster, and also because I am a human female. And I hate deep water because Jesus, have you guys seen The Perfect Storm?

I'm getting published next year, and it's surreal and wonderful, and part of me is still expecting to wake up from what is clearly a fever dream. People understand those emotions, those of disbelief and excitement, which I've been experiencing ever since the sale. I haven't spoken nearly as much about the fear.

It's kind of a mood-killer. What If, the fear helpfully supplies, every review for the book is filled with the most vitriolic hatred imaginable? What If the general reader response doesn't even merit hatred, and is a resounding 'meh'? What If you sell exactly two copies, and they are to your parents and your sister? What If your words are lost within this wash of human noise in a virtual instant, and ground down to nothingness by the inevitable progression of time? (That last one will certainly happen, which is rough.)

Most of my fears terrify me because they are unanswerable. What if I fall overboard in deep water? I don't know. I could get eaten by a shark (which would be sad, because I love sharks). I could do the boring thing and drown. The difference between that sort of fear and writing fears are twofold: 1) I'm not going to die from bad reviews. I'm just not. And more importantly, 2) with writing, I have an answer to all the horrible hypotheticals in my head.

So, What If every terrible thing I'm imagining does in fact come to fruition after I'm published? What if it's all exactly as horrible as my pessimist side imagines?

Well, too bad. I guess I'll keep writing, because it's a compulsion.

Whether you're just starting to draft that first novel or on the road to your eighth publication, if you're afraid, that's all right. The only question that matters is this one: do you need to write? If the answer's yes, then the fears don't matter. Which isn't to say they're not valid. Just that they can be beaten by sheer stubbornness.

I need to write. This is the only thing that calms my nerves, because nobody can stop me from continuing, no matter what happens. Unless, of course, we become subjected to an Orwellian dystopia, and an overreaching governmental hand snatches all writing materials from my grasp. In which case I will move to Canada.

Cheers!

Riley

Riley Redgate, enthusiast of all things YA, is a senior at Kenyon College represented by Caryn Wiseman. Her debut novel, Seven Ways We Lie, will be released by Abrams/Amulet in Spring 2016. Her site is here, and she Tweets here.

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Waiting for “Mr. Write”

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 10 August 2015 · 50 views

by Sophie Perinot

I am in a rare and sometimes frightening place. Those of you who’ve finished more than one book know it. I am awaiting the publication of a novel (4 months), and yesterday I handed a completed work-in-progress over to my trusted critique partners in anticipation of that manuscript’s “date” with my agent later this month.

This is that moment when the grain has been harvested, but you are not quite ready to thresh.

It should be a time of thanksgiving for a good harvest—for a manuscript I am extremely proud of. And it is. But it is something else too. For this writer at least, it is a period of mourning and nervous energy.

I have lost the closest companions (save my human family) of these last months. The characters who interrupted and informed my days and peppered my dreams are gone. Even when I turn back to editing, I will be merely arranging flowers on their graves. They will speak to me no more. This is grief profoundly real and unimaginable to those who do not write. I miss my protagonist at odd moments. I tear up driving my car. I have been widowed, and I suspect the only non-writer person who understands that is my flesh and blood husband (who, god bless him, is not the jealous type).

Yet, because I’ve done this before, my sadness is underpinned with anticipation. I know, in a way that newbie writers do not, that a brain that wrote once will do so again (just like those widowed from happy marriages are the most likely to marry again)

So I am waiting, waiting for Mr. Write.

I can’t force it. I have manila files (don’t we all) of research, neatly gathered by time period and story idea. But I am not looking at them. I have helpful friends who want to introduce me to characters—most recently my middle-child who, traveling in Europe, skyped me absolutely giddy with an intriguing story from Saxony.  But even if Mr. Saxony is ultimately my next beau, it is just too soon. Go on a first date with him now and he will become my rebound. That would be a waste.

I piddle around. I do the things that everyday life requires. I organize the notes from my wip into a
tidy folder. When I think no one is looking, I open up my “inspiration” folder and gaze lovingly at the characters who have gone. I listen to “our songs” (yes, the characters from my wip demanded a playlist). But one corner of my brain is on alert. I am waiting to glimpse something special out of the corner of my mind’s eye. I am waiting to hear a voice behind me in the produce section of the grocery store—a voice that says, “excuse me, are you Sophie? I have a story to tell you.”


Ah, there you are Mr. Write! 

Sophie Perinot’s next novel, Médicis Daughter--set at the intrigue-riven, 16th century French Valois Court--will be out in December of 2015. She could tell you about her wip but then she'd have to kill
you. To find out about Sophie's previous literary endeavors, visit her website, or her FB page.  You can also  follow her on Twitter as @Lit_gal 




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A First-timer's #RWA15 Highlights

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 27 July 2015 · 32 views

by J. Lea López


Broadway, baby!
Last week I attended the Romance Writers of America national conference for the first time. It was held in New York City, which was both amazing and slightly overwhelming for my introverted brain. But aside from the noise and the hustle and bustle of thousands of other people at nearly all times, there were dozens of workshops and speakers to inspire and inform attendees. Now, I will be completely honest with you: I was traveling back home today (yesterday when you read this) and I'm exhausted from the week, and my brain is a bit mushy from all the information swimming around in it. So instead of a critical analysis of the conference, or an in-depth discussion of some of the things I learned, this post will cover some of my highlights from the conference in small tidbits. In no particular order, here are my RWA conference highlights.
  • Kresley Cole's brilliant technique for avoiding the dreaded back story info dump. She uses brackets and symbols (such as [**] or something similar) to mark every time she talks about a character's back story while she's writing. You could use a different symbol for your hero and heroine to track both of them. Then you simply do a search for those brackets/symbols and use the navigation pane in Word to see how well you've spaced out that information throughout the story. I think this is an especially great technique for writers who like visual representations.
  • Sherry Thomas and subtext. I love subtext, which is all the stuff in a story that is implied under the surface, but never explicitly stated. Author Sherry Thomas gave a great presentation on subtext, and one of the great things she said was, "Subtext well done does not call attention to itself." I wasn't familiar with her as an author prior to the conference, and even though most of her romances are historical (which is not my favorite subgenre), the way she spoke about subtext during her presentation, and her humor and fun personality during that presentation and also another panel I attended have me wanting to rush out and pick up one of her books.
  • Jenny Crusie's presentation on turning points and character. This was one of the presentations that I wish every author could attend at some point. The presentation notes and handout are available on her blog (along with those from her Motif and Metaphor presentation that I was unable to attend) so anyone who is curious can at least look at those notes. The general concept of turning points was nothing new to me, but she expanded and explained it in a way I'd never encountered before. I found myself thinking about my WIP a lot during the lecture and how I had already incorporated the technique to some extent, and also how I might be able to further incorporate turning points. A major takeaway from this presentation was the symbiotic relationship of plot and character: characters change because things happen, and things happen because the characters change. While it may seem obvious, it's a complex relationship.
  • Your proofreader is not your copy editor. This presentation was given by Carina Press editor Angela James. I often see conflicting opinions and expectations about what the different levels of editing actually entail. She explained, in depth, the four levels of editing at Carina Press, as well as tips for hiring the right editor if you're looking for a freelancer. But in short, these are the different levels of editing: 
    • Developmental editing - Macro level; all about the story and little about the mechanics of writing
    • Line Editing - Little to do with the story itself and everything to do with the mechanics of writing
    • Copy Editing (or final line edits) - Very detail-oriented look at story, craft, and grammar usage, with some overlap of things covered in developmental and line editing
    • Proofreading - The final, micro-detailed pass; catches any missed errors as well as any that were introduced during previous editing steps
  • Championing the importance of an engaging, well-written story with characters readers love. Throughout many of the workshops I attended, whether they were about the craft of writing or trends in publishing, there was this constant positive message about writing your
    Keynote speaker Barbara Freethy
    story and utilizing techniques in the way that best fits your story. I didn't feel like anyone was encouraging writers to chase cash trends, and the craft sessions weren't about "rules" of writing.
  • Sarah Wendell! There were workshops about diversity in romance, and the topic also came up during a panel discussion about trends in romance publishing. Sarah Wendell, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, was on that panel, and she differentiated the need and desire for more diversity in romances from any trend. Trends rise in popularity and then disappear. Diversity, she said, is not a trend, but rather a necessity to accurately reflect our society. I wanted to cheer. And then I had a bit of a fangirl moment when she cheered my question about the market for more beta heroes in romance. So basically we're best friends now. That's how that works, right?
And now, while I said this list was in no particular order, I did actually save the best for last. The biggest highlight of the entire experience was getting to meet (some for the first time) and talk shop with a small group of amazing author friends from across the globe. We chat online and compare notes on writing and business stuff, but getting to do that in person made it even more special. To my friends, authors Julie Farrell (from the UK), Jean Oram (from Canada), Lucy Marsden, Evelyn Adams, Cali MacKay, Mallory Crowe, and Lori Sjoberg: Thank you ladies for helping to make my first RWA conference a lot of fun! Can't wait to do it again sometime.

If you were at the conference, what were some of your highlights?

J. Lea López is an author who strives to make you laugh at, fall in love with, cry over, and lust after the characters she writes. She also provides freelance copyediting focused on romance and erotica as The Mistress With the Red Pen. She welcomes online stalkers as long as they're witty and/or adulatory. Kidding. Maybe. Check for yourself: Twitter, Facebook, Blog.

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Query Verb Power!

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 16 July 2015 · 51 views

by Jemi Fraser

Verbs are awesome!

Oops. Are.

Not so awesome.

Obviously, we need to use 'to be' verbs in our stories. I imagine someone somewhere has written a story without using any 'to be' verbs, but I'm never going to attempt it. Contrived exercises like that drive me batty.

The being verbs can be passive. Boring. Not always, of course, but sometimes. And, in our writing, we need to avoid the boring. This is especially true in a query. Passive verbs and boring writing will both turn off agents - quickly. I've pulled out an old query to find out what verbs (in order) I used at the time...

surviving
turns
protects
torment
save
books...

If you're querying, or planning on it, check out your verbs in a list like this without the rest of the query. Do they convey action and/or the flow of your story? Do they match the style of writing in your story? Do they implore the agent to read on?

If not, maybe it's time to change it up.

Like many of my fellow FTWAers, I've learned a lot of my writing/querying tips from the awesome people over at Agent Query Connect. There's a forum for query help if you're so inclined.

Anyone willing to share the first 3 verbs of their query or story?

Jemi Fraser is (ACK!! Time to rewrite the bio!) an aspiring author of contemporary romance. She blogs  and tweets while searching for those HEAs.

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To Kill a Watchman

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 13 July 2015 · 61 views

by S. L. Duncan

As I write this, the summer heat has fallen upon Alabama and cocked it up good and proper. Ain’t nothing working right. Temperatures are topping out in the upper nineties and the heat index is in the triple digits. Every day, the weatherman promises a twenty percent of something that’ll never come. I suspect all weathermen were once weatherboys that liked to poke at frogs and lizards with sharp sticks.

It’s the humidity, you see. It makes people weird.

These days nothing is weirder or more talked about than the imminent release of an actual book written by the actual Harper Lee. Y’all may not know this, but Alabama is a bit protective of its favorite author. Might be because they share so much in common. Both are capable of giving the world beauty, controversy, and most assuredly, both are probably just a little bit crazy as hell.

Over the years, the acclaimed author has lived a reclusive life. She’s kept to herself, managing to avoid TMZ, communicating only through her legal representation, ever since her sister (and former lawyer) Alice died. From the outside looking in, Lee has completely disengaged from the world at large. And yet, those that know her and see her and visit with her say she’s still just good ol’ Nelle, living her life in Monroeville like most other residents do – quietly, and unconcerned what the outsiders think. Most Birmingham and Montgomery reporters that have journeyed south and gathered enough courage to visit her front door did so at the risk of threats of arrest for trespassing.

Of course, being threatened by Harper Lee is a bit of a rite of passage for reporters around these parts.

That’s a story you could tell for years.

But here we are, in the sitting, wet heat of Alabama, and most of us are in a bit of a state of shock. In fact, I’ve not taken a poll, but I suspect that before the news broke, more people in this state would be less surprised to see Jesus Christ himself in a Barnes and Noble, than they would a second book by Harper Lee. But in a matter of hours, that’s exactly what is going to happen: A second coming.

The early reviews point to a very different world for Scout and Atticus Finch, and those that were fans of To Kill a Mockingbird are a bit troubled. Scout has grown up and become a woman not content with the expectations set upon her by the world, and Atticus it seems has become a racist.

This damn heat, y’all.

I’ll be honest. I’m not sure how or if things will change after the release of Go Set a Watchman. All this happens as I’m trying desperately to cross the finish line on time for the last book in my three book deal, a deadline which also happens to be the publication date of my second book. I find it amazing that Harper Lee, excuse me, Pulitzer Prize-winning Harper Lee, may be experiencing a lot of the same anxiety that I am. Will this sequel meet expectations? Will people want to read it? Will it make the first book better or worse?

We’ll both find out soon enough. In the meantime, I’ve got to finish my third book. Nelle is probably just drafting some early notes for her third release. We can expect publication sometime in the summer of 2068.

Should be a hot one.


S.L. Duncan is the author of THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM, available now (ebook for $.99 through July!), and the upcoming SALVATION OF GABRIEL ADAM, (August 2015, Medallion Press), available now for preorder. You can find him on twitter @SLDuncanBooks and occasionally blogging at SLDuncan.com.

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A Celebratory Giveaway From FTWA!

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 04 July 2015 · 66 views

It's summer, and while the dog days are not quite upon us yet, the initial relief of sunshine and warm breezes may have lost their allure as those exact things sometimes heap guilt upon writers when they hole up inside their cave to crank out words.

We want to celebrate an upcoming pub date for one of FTWA's own, S.L. Duncan, whose sophomore novel, THE SALVATION OF GABRIEL ADAM, releases next month. What's that? You haven't read the first one yet? No worries, we're giving away 10 Kindle copies, internationally.

And by the way, those e-readers can go outside, too. ;)




a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Writer's Dreamland: the good, the bad and the ugly

  Posted by From The Write Angle , 02 July 2015 · 78 views

by Cat Woods

A few weeks ago, I received a message in my inbox. It came from an editor I was courting about a chapter book series. I was on my phone at the time, and the message with the first few words popped up on my screen:

What are you, a deaf mute?

A second later, another email popped up from a different editor:

You have an inflated sense of self.

I can't begin to describe the feelings that washed over me. Terror, confusion, anger...I was literally sweating and couldn't force myself to open the email to read the scathing rejections I knew were coming my way.

You see, we writers bust our butts to do things right. We work hard to balance story, plot, character, description and dialogue. We want to woo our agents, editors and public with our wonderful words. What we don't want is a rejection so hurtful we never pick up our pens again.

I rolled over and snuggled closer to Dear Hubby, thankful my nightmare was nothing more than a dream.

Ah, I know what you're thinking. I just cheated you out of a good rejection story. I started my piece with a dream, which is a huge no-no 99.9% of the time. But this dream happened to be real and since it isn't the opening scene of a novel I'm trying to pitch, I thought we could dissect it together, as I'm a huge proponent of believing my dreams.

So, long story short, I am a pretentious deaf-mute. At least according to the monsters trolling my sleep. Or am I?

Instead of letting my dream ruffle my writing feathers, I took the rejections seriously. What about my writing could possibly make me seem like a deaf mute? The answer was actually quite simple. I am a sparse writer in regards to description. I tend to favor the less is more approach and let my readers fill in the details with their own imaginations. (Personally, I feel my dream rejection would have been more solid if it had called me a blind mute, but beggars can't be choosy, and dream editors apparently aren't perfect.)

That said, I had something solid to consider before actually sending my submission out to the editor I want to woo.

That's the good part of dreams. If we stop a second to consider what our subconscious is trying to tell us, we may just learn a thing or two.

The bad part of dreams: dreams are so tempting to use in our writing because we dream every time our heads hit the pillow. Dreams are an integral part of our night life. They help us sort through problems. They lend us support and can be a huge source of inspiration. It is an easy trap to start stories with dreams, solve our MC's problems with dreams or to finish off a plot line with the whole "it was nothing more than a bad dream" solution. Readers tend to hate these devices, and for good reason. They are over-used and seldom done in a way that doesn't feel trite. Often, readers feel cheated out of a good story.

The ugly: dreams can be dream killers. Inflated sense of self. What the heck does that mean? I try to be humble. I don't like to be snobby or snotty or pretentious. And while I know that good intentions don't always work out the way we want them to and that we mere mortals tend to be really bad judges of our own characters, I'm not quite sure how to interpret this dreamy tidbit.

Inflated sense of self.

That really hurts. It rubs raw my self confidence and makes me second guess what I'm doing and why. It makes me want to stuff the submission package I've been laboring over into a huge e-file and leave it there for the cyber monkeys to steal the next time they are being naughty.

Inflated sense of self.

This terrifies me. Does it mean that my writing sucks? Or that my subconscious is begging me to quit planning a series when I'm incapable of following through? I have no idea: I was too busy sweating and trembling and being too much of a baby to open the dreammail and find out.

All I really know is that dreams have an ugly side that has nothing to do with trying to run away from a murderer and not being able to move our legs. They have the uncanny ability to make us second guess ourselves and believe things that may or may not have any truth in them.

As writers, it's ironic that our waking dreams of hitting it big can clash so painfully with our night terrors. Finding the right balance is crucial to our success--and our sanity.

So, dear readers, what writerly dreams have haunted you? How much stock do you put in your dreams, and how do you let them affect your writing? How, if ever, have you used a dream in your writing? What are your pet peeves when reading about dreams in novels?

Curious minds want to know.

Cat Woods loves to dream. In college, she kept a dream journal for her psych class and found that her subconscious is as quirky as her waking self. She also learned that her uncanny ability to change her dreams is called lucid dreaming. She'd been "changing the channel" on her nightmares since she was bit in the foot by a wolf in the second grade, and thought that doing so was normal. Alas, nothing about Cat is normal except her dream to write. For a peek into her whimsical life, you can find her at Word from the Woods or Cat 4 Kids.

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