Ready, Set, Write! It’s NANOWriMo

Feeling  up for the challenge of NANOWriMO? Okay, sit down, grab the keyboard and join fellow wordsmiths around the globe in NANOWriMo  ( National Novel Writing Month).  The traditional goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Embrace this or shape the goal into one that fits your needs.

Need to complete a first draft? In revision mode? Toying with a story idea or poem? Make November the month to tackle these options.

Looking for resources and inspiration for NANOWriMo?  Hit up YouTube, check out the official NANOWriMo website: nanowrimo.org, join or create an online support group.

If NANOWriMO makes you nervous but feels right, dive in. If it doesn’t feel like a fit right now, it’s ok to skip it. Either way this blog will be here, supporting your creative goals.

 

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Halloween Writing Exercises

Spooky, Dark Writing Prompts To Tempt The Muse:

  1.  Every month from the fifth through the seventh, Janet went to a cabin in the woods.  It was a strange request but the only one she had made before the wedding. Sam respected this need for personal space for ten years, until curiosity drove him to follow her. What he encountered when he peaked through the window chilled his soul.
  2. Jade had not aged a day. At the reunion, classmates commented on how she still looked eighteen. Unlike the other attendees, she had no gray hair, nor an ounce of extra weight or a single line on her face. Jade smiled and accepted every compliment. She refused to share the secrete behind her looks. People tended to be judgmental. Jade understood that scarifies needed to be made and  had practiced an ancient ritual for twenty years. It had indeed stopped the clock.
  3. Simon muttered and paced as he waited for the elevator. He mentally reviewed what had just occurred. It would be almost impossible to prove him guilty of the crime. The location was devoid of cameras and witnesses. The weapon had been wiped of prints and disposed of. Yet, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he had forgotten something.

*****What did Sam see? Did is wife find out he was spying?

*****What was Janet’s ancient ritual?

*****What did Simon do? Who did he do it to and why?

 

Spooky Prompts

As we edge towards Halloween,  it’s the ideal time to flex creative muscles with scary, creepy writing exercises. Here are some monstrous  prompts:

  1. She crept into the room, knife behind her back.
  2. The squeak of the floorboard caused her blood to run cold. It wasn’t her imagination, someone else was in the house.
  3. Tim Simmons grumbled, “Why did I sign up for the Halloween shift?” Time and a half was the answer. Normally, he liked his job at the cemetery. The hours of eight until four am were quiet. Halloween was the exception, tonight his role was more of security guard than maintenance worker. Local teens were known to tag headstones. Well,  if they wanted trouble they welcome to bring it. Tim had brought his own bag of tricks.

Part 3 of Manuscript Packaging: Final Steps

Final Steps To Take Before Sending Out Your Manuscript:

I. Hire an editor or a ruthless friend with sharp editing skills. Have him or her attack your manuscript like a rampaging wild boar. Encourage them to uproot redundant and clunky sentences with the tenaciousness of a truffle hunting hog.

II. Read you manuscript aloud one more time.  Invite the critic to pull up a chair. Allow that beast to expose any lumps. Feel the words. Do they flow? Is there a rhythm  between the lines? Let your brain pick a the tip of each plot point. Do they smoothly connect?

III. Okay, lock up the critic. Grab some caffeine and correct glitches.

***The moment has arrived. Hit send!*********

 

Part 2 of Manuscript Packaging: Conquering The Query Beast

There are soul quaking fears, ones that tie our stomachs in knots: public speaking, cover and query letters, etc.

Come out, I see you hiding behind the chair.  We will step carefully up to the query letter beast and gently examine the one known as the cover letter. Push back your shoulders and ease up to the keyboard.

You may wonder why the query beast lives and why you have to tackle it. The short answer, it’s your introduction to the publishing industry. The beast is the agent’s first view of you skills and a chance to meet your character.

Let’s peal back the skin of query and cover letters. Beneath the fur of the cover letter: is a brief correspondence. It tells the agent why they are being contacted, contains two sentences summarizing the plot and states what you are sending ( genre, title, word count). Close by letting the agent know that the full manuscript is included and thank them for their time.

Let’s skin the query letter. The opening paragraph tells the agent what you are sending and why you are sending it.

Second paragraph: shares the heart of the story. This is also the space to let the agent get to know your main character.

Third through fifth paragraphs: Show the agent the character’s dilemma and gives a hint to the resolution.

Final two paragraphs: A) Title, word count and comp titles. B) Write a brief bio. Be sure to include any connection between you and the story. I.E. like the characters, you were grew up in Los Angeles or used to be a bounty hunter.

Attach the first chapter or the number of pages the agent listed as  preference on their website.

Close by thanking the agent for reading your work . You can let them know that you look forward to hearing from them.

Ready to send it? **Stop!*** Save this as a draft and read part three of Manuscript Packaging.

Part 1 of Manuscript Packaging~Time To Be Picky

You may feel ready to grab an agent, sign a contract and officially join the realm of publication. Stop! It’s homework time.

  1. Grab several of your favorite books as well as books that may be similar to yours (these are often called comp titles) and Writers’ Market 2019.
  2. Power of your laptop or tablet.
  3. Research the agents who sold the books in step one. These are people who may appreciate your writing style. Review the agents section of Writers Market.
  4. Check out blog posts and articles about your preferred agent. This will paint a clear picture of their current interest.
  5. Take a look at their agency’s website. This site will present a list of the kind of books the agent represents as well as giving you information on the others who work there.
  6. Take notes and create a list of your ideal agents. Save that file and check out part two ( coming soon) of this post.

*Next blog post will address  cover letters and queries. The third part of this blog series will address how to best refine manuscript and send it out in the best possible shape.)

 

Three Month Push

The year is winding down. It is the ideal time to push forward and finish 2018 strong. Over the next couple of days, go dive deeper into the writing process.

  1. Tighten your outline and reread the first couple of chapters.
  2. Mark any section that doesn’t flow.
  3. Shake off  writers’ block by writing a scene from the POV of  a sidekick.
  4. Up the tension level by increasing inner conflict of the main characters.

Stay tuned for more ways to finish 2018 strong. Now go write!

You Danced Down The Writers’ Conference Road

You showed up at the conference armed with enthusiasm, pens, paper and your tablet. You soaked up the energy generated by other writers and keynote speakers. Their brilliance sparked your creative zone. Midday, the workshops began.

Your world began to shift with each note  taken and every nugget of information gained. Who knew there were so many ways to outline? The reason for including comp titles in a query or cover letter came as a surprise. The process of researching an agent or a publisher to find  a good match seems a bit more challenging than imagined.

Days two and three of the conference are similar. The event draws to a close. You leave with list of contacts to fellow writers to keep in touch with and a brain stuffed full of new knowledge.

Allow yourself a week or two to decompress.  Once you have regrouped, it’s time to move into the post conference mode. Reach out to your contacts. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them, mention the genre you write and express your interest in keeping in touch.  Next, open your notes. Review the ideas and tips. Keep in mind that although some ideas will help strengthen your work, not everyone of them is earth shattering.

Finally, celebrate the steps taken to grow in your craft. You reached out to your peers,  immersed yourself in knowledge and began fine tuning your work. Keep writing, keep growing.

 

 

Writing Conference Prep

The two most important parts of any writing conference are the people and the knowledge that can be gained.

You are going to a conference. Registeration has been handled and you are ready to pack your bag. Freeze! It’s time to put on networking hat. Hop on social media and follow the conference hastag. Say hello to other first time attendees. This basic move contects you to fellow wordsmiths and may provide you with someone to have lunch with.

Okay, go pack and remember to keep an open mind. The conference will be loaded with info.

Remember to let your inner child out. She/he will play well with others, be open to knowledge and will enjoy every moment.

Sand, Sun & Fuel

It’s summer and the ideal time to spend hot, sleepless nights writing. Or you can ignore the pen and laptop. Yes, you read the last line correctly. If friends, family and fun beckon, answer the call.

Stepping back from writing projects, relaxing and socializing recharge the creative battery.

Take the time to embrace summer fun. A few days or even a couple of weeks may do the Muse good. She will miss you and will be waiting with fresh perspective.