Friday, January 31, 2014

Enticing Judges & Readers

Along with wondering whom I write for (see previous post), I am trying to find ways to entice judges and readers. The pressure is on with the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) deadline in sixteen days. I have been filling all my moments with writing a pitch, super polishing my first 5000 words and editing and re-editing my entire novel.

I am still new to the writing world and waiting for one of my books to be a huge success. I would settle for a little success. I love to write and I am not afraid to say that I want people to enjoy my story. I would love for the to fall in love with my characters. I welcome emails begging me for my autograph. Okay, I know that went too far.

I have been researching author's advice to inspire me. Here are some that appealed to me.

“I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.” -James Patterson

Heck, yeah. That is great advice. Picture someone who you want to keep their attention. I read a review of my book Trail Swap and the reader said that they could not put the book down. That is such a compliment especially when it does not involve glue or anti-gravity.

"Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted." -Kurt Vonnegut
I hate reading books and having to force myself to keep reading. That usually only happens if I am beta reading or it is a nonfiction book that I need information.

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” — Margaret Atwood
That takes some pressure off. It is easy for Atwood to say, her books are pretty amazing.

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though.” - J.D Salinger 
I have felt this on multiple occasions and started stalking the author. (By stalking I mean reading other books and reading their blog. I have yet to sit outside their house. That might only be because they don't live nearby.)
“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” - Kurt Vonnegut 
This coming from Vonnegut is very validating. It is hard to believe that such a story magician had such a feeling while writing.

What are your favorite quotes about writing?

Who do you write for? Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday while driving to working I was listening to Kurt Vonnegut's audiobook Bagombo Snuff Box, Uncollected Short Fiction. (If you don't know who Vonnegut is *gasp* go  Here to Wikipedia. Then go read one of his books. For whatever reason, Hocus Pocus is my favorite.) As I was saying, in the introduction of Bagombo Snuff Box Vonnegut discusses eight rules for writing short stories. *(You can read all eight here.) I am going to focus on one of his rules.

I would write for Cali if she could read.
Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

Those two sentences remind me of why I love Vonnegut so much. Vonnegut talks/writes about how there was a psychologist who claimed to work with many writers. This psychologist stated that writer tend to write for one person. Vonnegut states that when he writes, he writes for his sister Alice. He took anything Alice would not like out of the story.

Who do you write for? Who do I write for? If Vonnegut I correct, which I idolize him so he is, then I am writing for someone. Who is he/she? For the last 24 hours, this has haunted me. Am I writing for one person or a type of person? Or am I "opening a window and making love to the world"? I don't want to get pneumonia!

I think as a writer this is an important thing to figure out. That could be an issue with someone's writing. Is it like making love to someone but then thinking about someone else? Or buying a present with someone in mind and then giving it to someone else?

Who do you write for?
What are your thoughts on Vonnegut's rule?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Writing a Pitch for a Book

Who's idea was it to condense a 100,000 word book into 300 words or less? Well, whoever you are Mr. or Mrs. Pitch you are no friend of mine. I guess editors and publishers need a quick way to  assess their interest in a book. Still writing a pitch for a book can be a tough task. I am currently pulling brain muscles trying to write a pitch for my newest book A Dozen East for the ABNA (Amazon Break Through Novel Award) in February. Today I used several things to help me not "pitch" a fit.
  • Jordan Smith's Finding the Core to Your Story. Teaches you how to write a logline (one sentence summary) for your story, book, screenplay, etc.
  • On-line Articles.
  • Writer's Blogs.
  • Samples of Book Pitches. Amazon put three pitches from ABNA contest winners on their site.
The book pitch is important. It is the first thing and maybe the only thing the people you submit your book to will see. That puts huge importance on your content, quality, clarity and strength of your pitch. MOst imprtenty there should be know spelling or grammar mistakes. For instance for ABNA in the first round judges will only be reading the pitch.

Here are some things to guide your pitch:
  • Explain the novel's concept, protagonist and setting.
  • Show off the strengths of your novel.
  • Be Clear & Confident.
  • Capitalize on your Originality.
  • Convince them to read the book.
  • Show your Passion about the book.
  • Ask others to read it and give feedback.
Hopefully this helps you. In time I am CONFIDENT that I will improve my pitch writing and not agonize over them.

What are your tricks of writing Pitches?
Do you have resources that help you?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writing Life Made Easier: My New Writing Tool

I apologize if this sounds like a commercial or if I am soliciting. I just feel a need to tell more writers who might have been as na├»ve as me and not know about this time saving and "writing life made easier" tool. My tool comes in the form of WriteWayPro.  (I am not getting any compensation from WriteWayPro to write this.)

WriteWayPro is writing software to organize you novel writing process. You have to check out the website You can do a FREE 30 DAY trial. I bought it for $35. I have only been using this program or a week and I wish I had it three books ago.

I want to say that I am not a software engineer in anyway. I am just an Indie Writer trying to create, edit and organize my books.

According to their website, the creator of this program is the husband of a writer. He saw all the notebooks and binders she used to keep track of things and created this program. Then the wife encouraged him to market it. So it was made for writers.

In the brief week I have been using this program this is what I found helpful about WriteWayPro.
  • Navigation of Book. You can organize your book into Chapters and Scenes and you can easily tab to those chapters and scenes in a navigation/outline bar on the left.
  • You can LISTEN to your book. That really helps with the editing process. I had read through my book several times and just once listening to the book , I had pages of edits that I did not find reading it.
  •  You can create Character notecards. Currently, I have a box of index cards that I carry around with me. Now I just can click and have access to all my characters. You can add pictures of the character or locations of your book.
  • Research Notecards. Keep all your research available right on our screen.
  • Screen Shot Saving. Instead of saving multiple drafts of your book, you can save during your edits and retrieve the old version if you don't like your edits.
  • Great customer support so far. I emailed them with questions and they got right back to me!
There is SO MUCH I like about this program! Granted, I only used it for a week, but it has already saved me a lot of time and head-ache. I have researched but not tried Scrivener, PowerWriter, and tons of other programs. I don't have to, because this one does the job!!
What do you use? Have you used WriteWayPro?

Failing as a Writer

At this very moment I am not feeling like a failure or a guppy in an ocean, but I came across this article by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore titled I'm a Big Failure And I'm Proud. The article talks about her failures at a writer. (Failure in the sense of not being able sell books.)

Her article begins by talking about how other writers are surprised that she so openly talks about her short-comings or failures. Warning: the word failure I all over this article. Miranda talks about how she climbed out of the lonesome hole of failure, kept writing, took advice of other professionals and bonded with other writers.
Being a writer can be an isolating job especially if you are a full-time writer. Additional stress accumulates when your livelihood depends on the money you pull in from writing. I haven't quit my day job yet. (This is advice from my father when I used to sing around the house. Anyway . . .)

I would love to write full-time and not have the pressure of having to make money from it. That is why I have the plan of winning the lottery (although I do not play it) and saving a billionaires life (that is why I hang around train stations-not that a billionaire would take a train).  I could save a billionaire's live while I am buying a lottery ticket. Tangent . . . I know.

One disappointment I recently had was getting a rejection from a literary agent that asked to see my work. She was really nice about. 1. She sent me an email. It was nice of her to take the time to do that. 2. She stated, "Good concept. I did not connect with the work as I would have hoped." So it is her fault not mine. Right? The whole 'it is not you it is me line.' I am sure this is some sort of generic reply she has, but I appreciated it. Last, she encourage me to keep writing.

There you go. I am feeling hopeful and inspired as a writer. Now, I just need more hours in the day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Getting Noticed as a Writer

Being a writer can be a lonely craft. I seldom get noticed. I have gotten noticed by friends and family. I have had strangers do reviews and say wonderful things. Recently, I had a lot of wonderful feedback from Beta Readers. Last and most recently, I have been noticed by publishers through a media event online.

I had three publishers ask to see my manuscript. I am not throwing a party yet but it feels great. I recently took part in a Twitter party thrown by Brenda Drake. It was a twelve hour party BYOB on Twitter where authors had 140 characters to interest agents and publishers in their books. The rules were you were only allowed to Tweet on the #PitMad (Pitch Madness) twice an hour. I was unfortunately sick that day so I Tweeted at 8am and then a few times from 5pm to 8pm.

When I got on at 5pm there were over a hundred Tweets a minute. I don't go on Twitter much but that seemed like a lot. People were posting that they were Favorited by agents and publishers. My posts sat lonely with one person re-tweeting. The next morning I checked my Twitter and three requests came through!

I sent my manuscript of Love's Autograph to them along with a query and I am not in the 2-6 week waiting phase (so much fun). I know it could be a long-shot that I get some sort of offer but it is exciting. There is of course something exciting about getting noticed as a writer. Cross your fingers!

Have you gotten notice recently?
Who noticed you? How did you get noticed?

Writing Goals this Year

I put a lot of thoughts into the goals that I am setting as an writer this year. Every year I am getting more organize, knowledgeable, dedicated, excited and serious about writing.

1. Find a Writing Mentor. I am not sure how I will find one or where, but that will be part of the process. Ideally, it will be someone who can donate their time to read my writing and give me constructive feedback.

2. Publish three books. I have two written and need to do the less fun part (in my opinion) of editing and multiple drafts. I have ideas for many more books.

3. Create a marketing plan. I have read books and dabbled in many strategies, but I don't have a great marketing plan.

4. Go to a Writing Conference or other social event. This was a goal last year that I did not achieve. This is due to several reasons. A. Money B. Not knowing which one to go to. C. Intimidated a bit.

5. Grow in my writing style. I know this is not measurable, but these are the type of things I want to do to improve on this.
  - Increase my vocabulary.
  - Read books on plot, dialogue, character development.
  - Put all my books through Beta Readers.
  - Take a class or workshop.
  - Read at least two books a month.
  - Read writers' blogs.

6. Find an Editor. Wish list not so much a goal. I need someone who is reasonably priced.

I am sharing this with you all. You can help hold me accountable and help me with these.
What are you goals for writing this year?
What other goal would be good for a writer?
Best goal you reached?

Catching Up

Okay, okay so I haven't written a post since last year. Good thing that is not one of my New Year's Resolutions. I am happy to say that I haven't posted anything because I have been busy with a few things.
  • Writing A LOT. Working on Love's Autograph and A Dozen East. Revising, editing, adding, etc. (More on that later.)
  • Reading. Doing some Beta Reading and enjoyment reading. Just read Something in the Wine by Jae. I stayed up late two nights reading it.
  • Competing in Contests. I participated in #PitMad. (Twitter pitching party where authors pitch 140 character Tweets about their books and agents or publishers Favorite the Tweet.) I had three agents/publishers ask for my manuscript.
  • Coming up with Goals. As I have mentioned in several of my posts, I am a big GOAL person. I feel that focusing on goals makes me more successful.
I plan to take off a lot of days between now and January 31st. I have a lot of vacation days that I need to use. This hopefully will translate into more writing.