Friday, February 29, 2008

Yipee and Award

This is for the 2006, Reader's Choice Awards for WRbeta. I won Best Series for a set of shorts last year. The link to the award is:

http://pics.livejournal.com/wolveriness06/pic/0000b59s/

Newsletter to be released monthly

Have a book coming out? A guest Blog happening? A good article on the craft of writing you'd like to share? A peom or short story you want to market?

I'm looking into putting together a free email based newsletter that deals with marketing of your book. If the interest is high enough, I'm going to try and have one published in time for June 1st. Please note, this is simply a free, no money exchanged, newletter for those who are interested in the craft of writing. I don't have any ads for it, or anything like that. It's based upon submissions only!

If you're interested, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dealing with Real Life and Writing

There are moments when I wish we had two computers in our house, one for me and one for my husband and son. Here I am slogging away, cursing my goalsetting in an attempt to get the last chapters edited before I submit a query letter and low and behold, they've found a fishing game.

Needless to say, out came the red pen, the table got cluttered and I sat down with my manuscript. Having restrictions on your time or your access to the computer can put a serious bug in your hat when it comes to things like writing that all important novel. I can honestly say, there have been moments when real life and the constraints there of, have made me want to throw everything away and just forget it.

The truth is, you can't. Some people paint, others sculpt, still others - and I'm including myself in this category - need to have an outlet that allows those thoughts, plans, dreams to escape. I spent years building worlds within my head, creating an escape for myself and others because it's who I am.

Yes as trite as it sounds, I am an author. I'm also a Mom, a wife, a sister, a friend, and to be whole I have to have that little bit of me that calls out to the old ink and paper. Does it mean I've had to make adjustments? You can bet your house on it. But at the same time, don't we all? How many people can say that their time is focused on one thing and one thing only? Seems to me, life would be pretty boring if that were the case!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Realistic Expectations

Expectations? What are they? How do they work? Everyone has them, and sometimes the one who has the most unrealistic expectations is you.

I set goals for myself, a chapter a day, 15,000 words per week. It shouldn't take long to get to the 80,000 word mark, right? I forgot the things that make up my day, my life. When I started writing my novel I was working 40 + hours a week, raising a highly energized child, dealing with an immature husband who I neglected to tell I was working on a book to sell and not just fan fiction...needless to say, my expectations of myself did not get met.

So here it is nearly two years after I started my novel and I've learned that goals are great, they help me get on track, but they aren't my written in rock statements. So I set my goals with a more realistic idea in mind. I've got four hours a day I can get onto the computer without an interruption, and in those four hours I can get a fair chunk of work done.

I'm okay with that. Four hours gives me more work done then no hours, and I'm not forgetting the rest of my life. I still have time for my son, my husband, the cat, the fish, the housework, and the rest of my obligations.

So, I guess its not so much what you believe needs to be done, as what you know you can do. It's been a learning curve for me that's taken me months to really grasp. Now, I think I've got it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Misconceptions can disable a writer

When I first got the idea to write a manuscript to sell, which is much different than writing a manuscript I have no intention of anyone from a publishing house seeing, I had a gross misconception.

As I've said before, I've written for years in all lengths, formats, and categories. A saleable manuscript is easy...hehehe...sure it is. I found out that it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and time. You don't just sit down, write a hundred thousand words and send it off.

Nope, you have to be sure that what you're getting out of your work is what you're putting into it. It didn't take long to get 100,000 words, but were they good ones? Did they help the story or just bog it down? I've discovered there is a difference.

You can type up a story in a month...is it ready for pubication? No, not in my humble opinion. Regardless of your expeience, an author can't assume anything. Misconceptions have a way of hampering and even disabling a writer because they get so tied to an idea. You have to be flexible, willing to work through those conceptions and see where it takes you.

I'm nearly finished with this manuscript. I'm still polishing it, tweaking, twisting words so its tight, fast-paced, and captures the reader's imagination. Have I learned anything? You bet I have, but that's a tale for another day.

So I'll leave you with this thought -

Everyman's life is a fairy tale written by God's fingers." Hans Christian Anderson

Friday, February 22, 2008

Editing's Do's and Don'ts Part 2

To continue on from yesterday's post, here is Candace with more tips for you when you're doing your edits.

Format, format, format
*Don’t make your manuscript hard for an editor to read. Your manuscript should use a good sized font, and be laid out and formatted properly. Just think of all the poor, unappreciated editors out there who receive submissions that are so hard to read they make their eyes blur. This one factor alone could be the difference between getting a contract or not. (I, for one, am considering lasik surgery and it’s all because of the numerous manuscripts I have to read that make my eyes cross…so come on, lighten up on me already).
*Make Microsoft Word your friend. When in doubt, ask Clippie, the handy little Microsoft Help guy. Make sure you know how to use it to format correctly. If you are unfamiliar with many of its features, take a course – it will pay for itself in the long run.
*Most publishers will post their formatting requirements online. Read them carefully and strictly adhere to them.
-Many times this is your first test as an author. If you fail because you can’t follow the posted instructions, then most publishers will have a pre-formed opinion that you do not pay attention to detail or just don’t care enough to get it right.
-If there are no formatting guidelines posted, use the standard of:
*Times New Roman, 12 point font
*Double space
*Paragraph indent of .5” or 48 px.
*Margins are 1” all the way around
*Prepare a cover sheet which includes:
-Your legal name, address, phone number, Email address, and website (if applicable) in the upper left hand corner of the page
-In the upper right hand corner type the name of your book and word count.
-In the middle of the page, type the book title again followed with “by” and “your name” on the next line.
*If you are using a pseudonym, state your real name followed by “writing as” and “your pen name” on the line below.
*Insert a section break. In Word, go to File/Page Setup/Layout and select “first page different” so that when you create your header there is no page number on this page.
*The first page of your manuscript should also have the title of the book and your name as author.
-Running header of the abbreviated title and your last name on the far left, page number in the far right (remember, cover sheet does not get a page number).
-Chapter Number can be either justified left or positioned in the middle
-Begin the text of your book. There should be no more than 7 lines of text on the first page of each chapter.
-Do not add returns at the end of each line except when transitioning to a new paragraph.
-Turn off all options under Format/Paragraph/Line and Page Breaks – no widow or orphan control, no hyphenation.
-Enter page breaks for subsequent chapters.
-Use *** centered for scene breaks in a chapter.
-On the last page, place the words “the end” centered after the last line of text (and doesn’t it feel good to get there???).

There’s a lot of information here. If anyone has a question regarding specifics on any item, please leave it in a comment and I’ll respond to them all at once in a future post.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Editing's Do's and Don'ts part 1

As an published author and editor for romance novels what tips would you share with an author just starting out for doing those dreaded revisions and edits?
Answer:


Whew! So you made it through to that last chapter of your book and all that blood, sweat, and tears later you’re now ready to submit it to a publisher. But what should it look like? What is the publisher looking for? What does the publisher NOT want to see?

1) Edit, edit, edit.
*Make shore awl typos arr gone. Don’t just rely on Word’s spell check feature, however. Go over each line with a fine tooth comb.
*Ensure your grammar is impeccable.
*Don’t use too many contractions, ellipses…Italics, or exclamation points !!!!(most of these will get removed by your editor anyway).
*Read each sentence out loud – does it make sense?
-This is particularly important for dialogue. Do people really talk like what you’ve written for your character’s dialogue? If you overheard someone saying that same line would it sound odd? Stuffy? Unnatural?
*Avoid “head hopping”. Use scene breaks to shift point of view. While this is not necessary in all cases, for a newbie author it is often very hard to switch POV naturally without taking the reader out of the action.
*Make sure tense – most likely simple past or present – matches throughout each sentence and throughout the book. For instance, “She quickened her steps on the sidewalk as she looks over her shoulder” mixes tenses. This is a bad, bad thing. For shame!

www.candacemorehouse.com
www.myspace.com/candacemorehouse
Blog: http://candacemorehouse.blogspot.com/
Champagne Authors Blog: http://thewritersvineyard.com/

"Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Guest Blogger

Coming soon.

Candace Morehousewill be gracing us with a column. Candace is an editor for Enspiren Press, as well her first novel is due for release in March of this year. Please come out and join us for this event!


GOLDEN ENCHANTMENT
By Candace Morehouse

Release Date: March, 2008
http://www.champagnebooks.com/

Tagline:
“Sometimes the most coveted treasures of all are found where you least expect them”

Blurb:
When her father dies, Andrea Alexander decides to return home to New Mexico and continue his search for a buried treasure of gold dating back to the days when conquistadores ruled the territory. However, she didn’t count on a mysterious figure shooting at her, a puzzle of clues and the involvement of her very masculine and handsome neighbor, Jake Houston.

Jake Houston remembers Andrea as the scrawny little tomboy next door who followed his every move. When they meet again years later, Jake is surprised to find Andrea has filled out in all the right places. Tempting as she may be, he is betrothed to another with no way out. Fighting his attraction to Andrea as he helps her solve the puzzle of where the buried gold lies hidden will test his strength in more ways than one.

How will these two, destined to be together, find a way out of danger and around their problems to realize true love?

Excerpt:
Please read an excerpt at my website:
http://www.candacemorehouse.com/index.php?page=novels

Lessons Learned

There are moments in everyone's life that it seems all the negativity is pointed directly at you. No matter how hard you try, what amount of time you spend nothing ever seems to work out for you and its hard. The old saying (Well at least it is to me) of same shit different pile - is reflected in daily life.

Before I get any further, I am not dissing anyone. I have an awesome support network in place for my writing and I love everyone whose been there for me. Its when a stranger, someone you don't know from Adam looks at you and says you're not good enough or you need to throw this away and start over that it hurts.

Yes, you want an honest opinion. As a writer opinions matter but you have to be willing to look past what someone is saying negatively and look at the bright side. Recently I got stumped on the rewrites for a chapter, my beta reader/critique partner sent me back a whole lotta red ink, I got negative feedback for another chapter and then on top of all of that, the awards I'm trying to run through a fandom have so many people not reading the rules...I'm sure you can see where one might get discouraged here.

I was no different. I was ready to toss it all away, throw the entire bundle out the window and forget about it. But some really nice people gave me some good advice and I got to thinking about it.

Your job as an author is to spin a tale of romance or mystery or whatever, but it must draw the reader in. You can have all the faith in yourself but if you're not willing to at least think about the valid points another makes, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your own image.

Easier said then done, ladies and gents. If this experience has taught me anything at all, its that a rock is just that - a rock. Great to lean, unmoved by much, but sooner or later you have to stand on your own two feet.

Tis better to be the oak than the stone - for in the storm the oak will bend, the rock merely gets hammered by the rain! - by me.

So in closing, I will say this: If someone hands you a page of red ink, or a bad comment about yourself or your work, take it. Look at it. Pick the knowledge and valid points from it and toss out the rest because, ultimately you are the one who is doing the writing. You are the one holding the pen and its up to you to decide how 'help' is taken.

Until next time,
Patricia.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Author's Chat coming soon!

Adelle Lauden will be chatting with Zinnia Hope and M E Ellis so please come out and join her.

Photobucket

Monday, February 18, 2008

So you want to be an author?

When I said that for the first time you could have heard a pin drop. Yes, some of the shock had to do with my age - I was thirteen at the time- but a lot of it had to do with what people automatically assume an author does.

The assumption I've encountered all too often is that as an author you spend hours at your computer or with pen and paper slogging away at some story that no one but you will read. "Get a real job, girl. One where you can support yourself and not starve." Yeah a real confidence booster but it was the honest opinion of the speaker.

Rejection doesn't start with that first query letter, let me tell you. It starts when you first open your mouth and say those dreaded words. By no means am I saying that being an author is easy, it isn't. You have to be dedicated to your craft, be willing to slog the hours and take rejection like cod liver oil! Still if it's what you want, then you have to work for it.

Now I'm sure everyone has run into a road block or two, if you haven't then either you've got horse shoes in a place best not mentioned, you've been touched by the quill of the writing god, or you own your own publishing firm!

Still, its is better to try then to sit back and wait for it to happen. My dad told me once, "Patricia, you can't just sit back and wait for something to come to you. If you want it go out and get it, don't sit back and expect everyone to cater to you because you're in for a world of disappointment if you do!"

He was right. Expecting another to do for you what you must do yourself is like expecting gold to fall from the sky...doesn't happen. Expect big things from yourself and you'll succeed, expect small things and that's what you'll get.

The saying on the wall of my employment coach's office says it all:

Behind me is infinite power,
Before me is endless possibility,
Around me is boundless opportunity,
Why should I fear?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The importance of Good critiquers

Hello;



Its been years since I've learned how to print my name in grade school and I've gone through a major journey through the years. From reading the words printed before me to writing novellas and novels is a rather daunting jump. One I congratulate everyone whose ever written anything be it a good ad or a full length novel on.



I admit I'm no expert when it comes to the English language when its written or spoken. An old quote I'm especially fond of is "I only speak two languages - English and bad english so listen up!" Don't recall where I've read/heard it before so if anyone knows please comment. I've always found it to be very, very true.



In the course of my journey, I've discovered that having someone willing to critique your work is invaluable. You can write the best darn story you've ever believed but if it doesn't flow, than its not going to carry the reader anywhere.



When you feel confident and ready to have someone look at your work and read it for those glaringly obvious typos you can never find, there are several things to look for in a critique partner.



First of course is someone who is willing to dedicate the time to your quest. Recently, I've had people email me wanting to critique only to find that they never respond to my emails requesting information about formatting to send it.



It's a frustrating and depressing reality that critique partners are people the same as you and I. If you have a good one, hang onto them and show your appreciation! Don't just keep pouring the work on and never express your opinion and gratitude. That'll get you zip, a lot of chapters on your hard drive with no critiquer to look at them.



And second, remember a critique is just that, a critique. I've rejected suggestions by a critiquer because they don't help the story one bit. For me if they send me something back that I know hasn't been looked at by anyone other than me and it's says okay, looks good I begin to wonder. Have they read it? Did they really look and see what they were reading or did they just skim through it?

Be open to opinions, be willing to look beyond your own ego and you'll find that the page covered in red ink being returned to you is a good thing. Don't get discouraged, don't get angry and toss in the towel...have faith. You'll be successful even if it takes a while!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Welcome.


Welcome to Ofinkandquill.com, this blog is my personal space to document my journey through the world of publication and the ups and downs of my search to find a good publisher.

I've been writing for a long time, since I was a little girl and have weathered a lot of life's storms through my writing. I hope you'll join me as I go from unpublished author to published!