Count Down To New Year, New Opportunities

I hear your heart racing, see the sweat across your brow. Calm down. Yes, 2018 is nearly done. It’s okay if your novel wasn’t completed, if much of the past 11 months were spent chasing the Muse or if you home office is a monument to rejection letters.

 A new broom sweeps clean. Jan 2019 provides 365 days for enhanced creative output and the opportunity to splash into the pond of publication.

Spend the next two weeks soaking up the season and grab a bit of time to create a list of realistic and outlandish writing goals.

Eat cookies, drink eggnog, hangout with loved ones and scribble the occasional plot notes.  The new year will arrive shortly and you will roll into it ready to succeed via mainstream publication, self-publishing, journaling or blogging.

Good riddance to it. 

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Inspiration From YA Lit

Writers need to be readers. Okay, I know that some of you are nodding, you read books on a regular bases in your genre. Time to stretch and dive into the cool water of Young Adult fiction. It is one of the largest markets and is represented by authors like Kwame Alexander, Danielle Page, Gayle Forman, and Angie Thomas. 

Wondering what topics are covered in YA fiction? Family secretes, fantasy, dystopia and racial issues are a sample of what the authors are bold enough to tackle.

If you are already a fan of the Young Adult fiction, try  nonfiction. Misty Copeland’s Life In Motion share’s the ballerina’s early struggle.

Now that you have a list of authors to check out, the question is “why bother?”

Reading YA Lit stretches the creative muscles. You’ll discover various styles of storytelling. You will also gain a glimpse into the emotions teens experience and the challenges they face.

Ready? Set? Drive to your local library or turn on your e-reader. Load up with YA Lit. 

Turkey vs. Tofurkey

Thanksgiving is the time for wearing stretchy pants, loading  plastic containers with leftovers, and soaking up writing material.

Typically, there’s a side dish to be prepared, a distance to be traveled, an empty stomach to be filled and a dash of family drama.  Maybe you’re the one who has to prep for the big day and  just hope that everything goes smoothly. Good, bad or just strange, holidays bring a bit of chaos.

The burnt  or odd tasting dish made by cousin So-and-So, the rude behavior of a guest and glitches that accompany most holiday meals is fuel for your writing.

You can’t say or do everything that you would like on this special day. Or can you? Put the emotions and home-brewed horror on the page.  Let your characters share your frustration or outrage.

Happy Turkey or Tofurky  Day! Gobble, Gobble!

 

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.

 

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!