• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Monday, June 28, 2010

What Type of Writer are You?

I've done a lot of research on the craft of writing. Some things I learn are easier to assimilate into my writing technique than others. For instance, I've read several articles from well known, successful authors who recommend you write your manuscript, start to finish, without looking back until you've completed the entire first draft.

How is this possible? Not look back? I can't do it! I can't I tell you!

I know, I've heard the warning.....If you keep going back to perfect the first chapter, you'll never get past the first chapter. I'm proud to tell you I've conquered this problem, although it took a while.

The way I write now is, I get a scene/chapter into the computer. Usually I think it's nowhere close to as good as it was in my head, and I get frustrated. The next day, however, I come back, review it, add details, flush out setting/characterization, edit extraneous words, and I start to like it. It's usually not until the day after that, after I've edited/revised it a few more times, that I feel ready to move on. That's not to say it's perfect, because further changes are often needed when I do my final edit of the manuscript as a whole.

Another thing I like to do is, when I first sit down to write, I read over the chapter before the one I'm working on, to get myself back into my characters' heads. See...I don't know how to not look back!!!

So what about you? Do you write/revise, write/revise, write/revise until you're done? Or do you write the entire first draft, start to finish, before revising? And which way do you think is best?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Search and Destroy

I've been doing a lot of critiquing lately, of my work, my critique partner's work, and for another writer I hope will become my second critique partner. Since I am in an editing frame of mind, I decided to discuss repetitive words. You know, the ones that sneak into your sentences without you even realizing they're there.

Was.   That.  Seemed.   Felt.   Even.   Just.   And.   Then.   Ever.

My other problem words are there, their, and they're. I know what they all mean and when to use them, yet I routinely find I've used the incorrect form.

When I perform an edit, the above words are at the top of my search and destroy list.

What words or phrases do you tend to repeat in your writing?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Branding

Hi All!
I've been a bad blogger, and I apologize. But I've found a new critique partner Joanne who is awesome, and I'm getting a ton of work done! Tonight I e-mailed the revised first three chapters of my WIP to my agent to see if I'm heading in the right direction.

Now. On to my post for today. Author Branding. (And no, this does not have to do with getting your writing genre/subgenre tattooed on a visible body part for easy identification!)

According to Theresa Meyers, President of Blue Moon Communications, when we talk about an author brand we are talking about building an image, perception or identity that is used to create "emotional Velcro" first, a perception of higher quality second and that little "something special" that no one else can offer third.

According to an article by Edwin Colyer at brandchannel, "Authors become brands if they write a certain kind of book. They build up brand loyalty – you know what you're going to get when you read one of their books. By the nature of their craft you won't get something wildly different. You know what you are going to get."

I got the idea for this post while sitting in the audience of the CAROLE KING/JAMES TAYLOR concert this past weekend. First let me tell was FANTABULOUS, and if you have the opportunity to see them, I highly recommend it.

Here are two singers/songwriters in their sixties, whose careers have spanned decades, still performing to sold out crowds. Why? Because they give the people what they want. They sing their songs the way people expect to hear them. Sure they changed things up, but I got what I paid for, and would happily have paid more for if I had to. Carole King and James Taylor have a brand. What comes to mind when you think of them? Ballads. Heartfelt lyrics. Quality. (As hard as it is finding the perfect words, imagine setting them to music. Yikes!)

So as writers, we should take a lesson from these iconic performers by finding our niche and giving our readers (aka customers) what they expect from us....our best work in a form they are familiar with.

What are your thoughts on author branding? (Or James Taylor and Carole King?!?!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Letdown That Follows 'The End'

Writing is a process that for some takes months, others years. The idea for a story can take shape from something as simple as driving a blind curve on a road, watching a young couple kiss, or reading a news story on the Internet. (At least for me.) With the implantation of that single seed every writer begins to think, to research and plot (at least to varying degrees) before getting down to the actual business of writing.

Planning the celebration to follow my youngest child's Bat Mitzvah was very similar. It started months ago with an idea for a candy theme. I thought about place cards, candy centerpieces and giveaways. I researched and found the perfect party planner, candy torah seating cards, personalized string backpacks, DJ, photographer, and photo favor company. I created a guest list then contracted, designed, and ordered what I needed.

The day of the Bat Mitzvah felt similar to when I finish a first draft. I felt a sense of excitement, accomplishment that it all came together the way I'd planned. My daughter was beautiful, poised, and dare I say perfect!!! No mother could have been prouder! The reception was fabulous, the food delicious, and the dancing....let's just say quite a few of my muscles and discs rebelled at the overzealous activities of the day!

When the party was over and I looked back at how it all went, it felt similar to the revision process. What would I have done differently, how could I have made things better? For one, I would have eaten more or at least asked that my salmon be packaged up for me to eat later. (As a result of this oversight we stopped at a local hamburger restaurant on the way home from the with my glow stick necklace!) Second, I would have worn a pair of the colorful ped socks we distributed to the kids instead of playing grownup and keeping my heels on the entire time. (An oversight I'm still feeling the effects of today!) Third, I would not have allowed my daughter to wear a strapless dress. (An oversight that had her tugging up her bodice throughout the day.) Unfortunately, a writer can go in and revise to fix the details to make them better. The mother of the Bat Mitzvah girl cannot. Luckily the problems were minor in comparison to all the fun we had!

And finally, the day after the party, just like when a manuscript's final final edits are complete and it's on its way to the agent/editor for review, I experienced the the letdown of 'The End'. Just like I miss the characters who have been a daily part of my life for months, I miss the planning and anticipation of my daughter's big day, which is now just another happy memory.

How do you feel when you've finally completed your manuscript and sent it off? Are you relieved? Sad? Do you obsess and wish you'd made a few more changes? Do you get right to work on your next project, or do you give yourself a much needed break?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Suit

Three days to my daughter's Bat Mitzvah and things in my world are bordering on out of control. Two weeks ago I decided I could no longer put off buying my son, age 16 and growing taller each day, a new suit. All I had to do was find a corresponding two hours of free time where we both were available to get to the store. As luck would have it, on a Thursday afternoon, torrential rain caused the town to close the soccer fields. YES! No soccer practice. So after school and track practice and a visit to the Hebrew tutor, we headed up to the suit store.

My son is on the cusp of men's sizes. The salesman informed me that out of the hundreds of suits in inventory, they had 3, yes I said 3, suits in my son's size. I'd anticipated difficulties outfitting my daughter and myself so we started shopping back in January. But my son? No way! How hard is it to buy a suit? I felt panic rising. It took an act of nature for me to find the time in our busy schedules to get to the store. I had to allow for alterations. How long would it take for our schedules to align again? And where would we go? The store we were at had the largest selection around.

I prayed one of the available suits would work. Unfortunately, my son flat out refused the first choice based on color. So he tried on the second of his three possibilities. It looked nice, came with two pairs of pants. I innocently asked, "How much?"

The salesman replied, "$450.00."

I laughed. That was a joke right? $450.00 for a suit a 16-year-old would probably wear once? Not on my  budget. The salesman didn't seem to appreciate my amusement. I stopped short of yelling at my son to hurry up and take the suit off before something happened and we were forced to buy it.

The next suit, the last of our three options, looked good and was, thankfully, more reasonably priced. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was getting late. My children were hungry and eager to get to Chili's (my bribe for them to cooperate!) The hard part over, with the salesman's assistance, I rushed to find the smallest dress shirt available in the perfect shade of blue and a matching tie. My husband showed up and took the children to the restaurant while I paid.

The salesman rang up my order, I handed over my credit card, and ran through the rain to my car. It wasn't until I arrived home and looked at my receipt that I realized I'd purchased my son an $85.00 dress shirt!

What does this have to do with writing? Even when we're stressed and under a deadline, we must pay attention to the details. Have you ever sent a manuscript to an agent/editor/contest only to realize later on that you made a stupid spelling error? That the hero's green eyes mentioned on page 1 changed to brown on page 21? If yes, please share your stories. If no, how do you manage the details while under pressure?