Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pamela S. Thibodeaux: My Best Advice on Writing

Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Read. Read extensively in your genre and out. Take note of phrases and descriptions that capture your imagination or make your heart sing and mind race. I’ve yet to meet a writer who isn’t an avid reader!

Write. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, or two to three days a month, just make time to write consistently. Don’t worry if it’s dribble to begin with, just write. Whether you’re at a desk, the kitchen table, the library, or a coffee shop, get in the habit of sitting in your writing space and putting words on paper (or computer, or notebook, or iPad…you get my drift). Forget the rules and write the book you want to read. You can always check for publisher guidelines and edit/revise your project to fit, but those first drafts can be whatever you want them to be.

Edit. Most projects need a minimum of three edits…. Initial edit is where you layer in descriptions, the five senses, etc. Second pass, where you check for plot holes and pacing. Third round, you’ll check for grammar, punctuation, etc. Make sure you take at least two weeks to a month between edits. If you don’t, chances are you’ll miss mistakes that could cost you a contract or precious time in edits after the contract. While you’re letting this one cool, start another. Keep several projects in the works at all times so you don’t worry this one to death.

Query/Submit. At some point you’ve got to turn that baby loose. Even if your initial submission is to a critique partner or group, don’t let fear stop you from getting the feedback necessary to help you grow as a writer and produce the best work you can. Read the last two sentences above—they apply here too. Keep writing while you wait to hear back from your submission.

Revise, Re-submit, Resell. This applies mostly to articles and essays but sometimes you can even revise/rewrite a story and sell it elsewhere. Make sure you abide by any current or previous contract limitations and if someone doesn’t normally take reprints, be sure to let them know the extent of changes you’ve made that add a whole new twist to the version you’re querying about or submitting to them.

Promote. Okay, you’ve sold a book or two or a dozen articles. There will be no (or very few) sales, reviews, or new opportunities, if you don’t let people know. Set up a website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page. Spend a few hours a week building your fan base and readership. When you do a book signing or speaking engagement, ask for the name and address (email too) of everyone who buys a book. This is your readership. Ask if you may add them to your mailing/newsletter list. Don’t bombard them, but keep in touch on a regular basis, whether that is monthly, quarterly or even annually.

These tips and hints apply to the craft of writing but here are a few more:

Keep good records. Writing is a business and even unpublished authors can claim business expenses such as office supplies, ink, business cards, etc. Check with a CPA or tax preparer and don’t miss out on these valuable deductions—especially when you begin to make money.

Take Care of Yourself. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or hand grenade and we have a hard time focusing on writing. Don’t worry about your career at this point. Take the time you need to recover and/or regroup and start over. Real writers never quit. We may take an extended leave of absence but at some point, we always return to our passion.

And last but certainly not least…

Don’t Quit! Writing is a gift and a talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent.

Bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a Lifetime Member of Bayou Writers Group. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!”™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

A visionary is someone who sees into the future. Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society.

Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?

Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God's love heals the most wounded of souls.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Delia Latham: Write Right has a new home!

I apologize for the inconvenience, but....  I've integrated Write Right! into my website. Please continue to follow our writing tips there. 

You'll find the next tips from our guest authors at: http://delialatham.net/write-right-blog.html. I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Kathy Ide: How to Uphold Your Reputation as an Author

Kathy Ide

The buzz word in publishing is platform. But did you know that having mistakes in your manuscript can affect your reputation and platform?

Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.

Even if your manuscript has already been accepted by a traditional publishing house, if their in-house editor has to spend all her time fixing your mistakes, she won’t be able to catch the deeper, more subtle nuances of your text. Besides, you won’t be presenting a very polished, professional image to your publisher.

Mechanical errors can be embarrassing.

A friend of mine once picked up a book at a bookstore and noticed a typo on the back cover. When she reported it to our critique group, she didn’t say she’d found a mistake on a book published by “XYZ Publishers.” She said she found
the mistake on a “Jane Doe” novel. She didn’t connect the error to the publishing house but to the author.

Mechanical errors may cause readers to take you and your message less seriously.

I once saw a published article with this title: “Crowe Turns Hero to Help Snake Bite Boy.” The story was about actor Russell Crowe helping a boy who’d been bitten by a snake. But by spelling snakebite as two words, this sentence implies that Mr. Crowe helped a snake bite a boy! Now, I got a good laugh out of that. But I sure don’t want those kinds of mistakes showing up in my own writing.

Mechanical errors can affect the sales of your book.

Readers who find a lot of mistakes in your book will not be as likely to recommend that book to their friends. And who knows? You may have a high school English teacher reading your book, and she just might recommend it to her students . . . unless there are a lot of mistakes in it.

Mechanical errors can give you a poor reputation.

If you self-publish, or work with a small, independent publisher that doesn’t proofread carefully, your book may go out to the public with several typos, inconsistencies, or PUGS (punctuation, usage, or grammar) errors. Readers who catch those mistakes may consider you an amateur.

For a lot of avid readers, typos practically jump off the page. And many are familiar with the rules of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling. If your reader knows the rules and you don’t, that’s not going to make you look very good.

If you have a hard time finding typos, inconsistencies, and “PUGS” errors in your writing, consider hiring a professional proofreader. A careful proofread might make a life-or-death difference for your manuscript.

Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. To order, visit www.secretsofbestsellingauthors.com. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, visit www.KathyIde.com.

Proofreading Secrets of Best-selling Authors

Learn how best-selling authors proofread their manuscripts to avoid typos, inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and errors in punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling.

Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors, by professional freelance author, editor, and proofreader Kathy Ide, is the essential go-to tool for aspiring and experienced writers and editors. This book includes all of the material from Ide’s popular Polishing the PUGS book (now out of print), with added PUGS guidelines and helpful tips from multi-published authors on how to catch typos and other common mistakes.

In ProofreadingSecrets of Best-Selling Authors, Kathy Ide identifies the industry-standard references for books, magazines, and newspapers (which are different from the guidelines for other types of writing, such as college term papers). Using these official references, she highlights the most common mistakes writers make in the areas of punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling (for which she uses the acronym PUGS). She also includes guidelines from The Christian Writer's Manual of Style for authors and editors who work in the inspirational market.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Delia Latham: Stop While You're Going Ninety

Delia Latham

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it.
—Ernest Hemingway’s 
advice to a young writer

Our tendency as writers is to write like a house afire when we’re in the zone. Don’t eat, don’t sleep, barely breathe…and above all, don’t stop writing as long as the muse is hanging around.

Which leaves nothing for the next writing session, because it’s “all used up.”

Hemingway’s advice is brilliant. Stop while you still know what will happen next. It provides a place to start the next writing session. No sitting in front of a blank screen wondering what to write, and where your story is going—because you already know. You left the previous writing stint with the fire still burning.

And here’s the really great thing: While you’re writing the scene you deliberately didn’t write yesterday—so you’d have kindling for today’s fire—you’ll realize what should happen next. That's great! Now tuck it away in your mind or your notebook for tomorrow.

This is a great strategy that leaves the door open for a productive writing session every time.

What about you? Do you go in with both guns blazing and keep shooting until you’re out of ammunition…or do you save that last bullet for the next go-round?

DELIA LATHAM is a born-and-bred California gal, raised in a place called Weedpatch and currently living in the lovely mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband and a spoiled Pomeranian. She enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She has a "thing" for Dr. Pepper, and loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia@delialatham.net. Find her also at the following online locations:

Living the Write Life (blog)



Amazon Author Page

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ane Mulligan: What's the Deal with Back Story?

Ane Mulligan

Contrary to popular belief, backstory is a good thing. Now, before y'all call for a lynching party, let me tell you what it's good for and what it's not good for. After all, backstory helps you, the author know your character. What makes her tick? What formed her worldview? Why does he dislike women who have a good business head?

Let's get the "not" out of the way first. The reader does not need to know the backstory of your characters to understand the plot—at least not in the beginning. A bit of mystery about the character is a good thing. It draws the reader onward to find out why this otherwise nice guy is so antagonistic to the heroine.

I always tell new writers to think of it this way. You're attending a party, and your host introduces you to a new neighbor. You start off the conversation by telling her your life history, and the new neighbor will be in jeopardy of whiplash, looking for the host—or anyone for that matter—to rescue her.

Readers who are bombarded with backstory in the first few chapters of a novel with either skip over it or close the book for good. Either way, putting it in wasted your time.

Now, let's look at what backstory is good for and how to discover it. First, I conduct a character interview (CI). Think of that as a journalist interviewing a subject for an article. In my CI, I dig and prod for the character's secrets and for his or her fears. What happened in their childhood that had a major effect on them?

After I've completed the CI, I write a stream of consciousness (SOC) backstory. This is where I go back two or more generations. People are the product of their ancestors' worldview. For example, let's say your great grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They probably could get more for a quarter than anyone you know. They taught your grandparents, who taught your parents. But did your parents continue that trait or did they, because of their more affluent status, break away from it?

It's within the SOC backstory where I discover so much about my character. Besides their worldview, I learn the lie they believe about themselves, and that lie will color their motivation, and that motivation will drive their plotline.

Your characters will either fall victim to their lie or they will try to prove it wrong. Remember, the key is: Lie drives motivation drives plotline.

Much of what I learn never makes it into the manuscript, but if makes the characters come alive. They're three-dimensional and when they are real to you, the author, they become real to the reader.

One of my beta readers said after reading Chapel Springs Revival, "I love these people. I want to find out more about their lives."

And that's the goal for back story.

About the author:

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, is due out in 2014. She's a novelist, a humor columnist, and a multi-published playwright. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, their chef son, and two very large dogs. You can find Ane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Chapel Springs Revival:

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.