Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Published!

What happens when you’re ready to send that book off to a publisher?  It’s like sending that first kid off to school. I feel nervous, apprehensive and anxious. Will everyone like this like I do? Or in my case, I love it.  It’s my baby, my novel, my very first published book that will be out there for public scrutiny.
And – are you ready for this? I decided to self published.  Why? Because I guess I’d say I’m a coward. Traditional publishing seems overwhelming to me.  I tried, unsuccessfully I might add, to pursue the traditional publishing route.  Alas, I’m sure I gave up way too early from discouragement.
But the unnerving part for self publishing is that there will be no proofing or editing other than what I’ve done and/or had friends do for me. So any typos or grammatical errors will be out there for the world to see. I’m praying I’ve caught them all. I don’t want to be embarrassed.
And I’ve been told that my writing tends to be edgy, or at least in the realm of Christian fiction, so no traditional publisher would take a chance on a first-time, unpublished author that writes edgy Christian fiction.
I’m definitely not Francine Rivers who gets away with that type of Christian fiction. So onward and upward!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't Ever Quit!

Birthdays! Bah-humbug! Today I turn 64. Yowzers and Yikes! Old is the word that comes to mind! BUT I don’t feel old! I am NOT old! That’s my proclamation and I’m sticking to it!

When family and friends ask what I want for my birthday, my typical response is “it’s okay, nothing!” or “scented lotions, scented candles or bath/shower gels.”

This year my answer is different.  I WANT TO BE PUBLISHED! Being a writer and not being published is like having an awesome new dress or outfit and nowhere to wear it to show it off.  Of course, one could say that the dress is only beautiful to the wearer, no one else likes it but her.

The same could be said for writing. No one thinks his/her writing is good but him/her. I hope that’s not the case with my writing. I want to touch people, bless people, minister to people with my writing.

I grew up in church. In days of yon, anyone and everyone could get up and sing a special. And dear hearts, some of those people couldn’t sing worth a hoot.  In fact, some were like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. The sad thing is that they THOUGHT they were the cat’s meow (no pun intended) with their singing. Or some of those contestants that try out for American Idol or America’s Got Talent. With have no skills or talent at all.

I do understand that there are some that “write” whose writing is like the fingernails scraping on chalkboard. We had one such gal in a writer’s group I belonged to a few years ago. Her WIP or novel she was working on was appealing, at least it was to her and her family since it was her life’s story, but her writing skills and technique was deplorable.  And although our critique time with her was gentle and gracious, she got the hint and quit coming.

DON”T EVER QUIT! If writing is your passion, your dream, then use critiques to grow your craft and learn from it. Some critique will not be accurate, but always keep an open mind.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Techie Granny

 I admit it - I’m old! I remember telephone party lines and when mobile phones were so big you needed two people to lift it (okay, that’s a slight exaggeration).  I had just gotten used to the phenomena that I could send a paper around the world via a fax machine, when technology escalated  beyond that.

Giving up my word processor for a computer was agony, like an old friend I felt comfortable with. Embarrassed to admit I didn’t know the first thing about my new computer, I did what any intelligent person would do. I bought a teaching video. Perfect idea, except that instructor spoke a foreign language: icon, control panel, password protected, desktop, start menu (apparently I would be able to order food from my computer); so many words I knew nothing about. If my computer contained those things, I had no idea how to get to them. When he mentioned search engine, I knew I had bought the wrong video.  I watched them unpack my computer, and it didn’t include a separate engine.

 When everyone owned a cell phone, including kids, I declared “I don’t want or need one!” So - my first one was large enough that I could easily find it whenever I absentmindedly dropped it into my purse. Then I discovered those special pockets on purses are for cell phones.  Eventually I learned to use those little pockets. Don’t ask me how many calls I missed trying to find my phone in the bottom of my big purse.

 Before I got a cell phone, I noticed whenever I was in a restaurant most people didn’t talk to each other, they talked on their phones. I wanted to be in the groove (do we still use that word?), so my husband explained the “family plan”.  Well, I certainly belonged to the family - in fact, they wouldn’t even be here if not for me. I didn’t need a cyber guru or teaching video to tell me how to produce a family.

 I grudgingly gave up writing real letters for corresponding via emails, wisely learning to be guarded with my words because once it’s in cyberspace, God only knows who might read it. There’s also a blackhole sucking up some emails never to be seen again, like those socks missing from the dryer.

 Getting a phone with internet access rocked my world, but I soon became disillusioned and called my husband.  “This phone is possessed! It vibrated all day, but when I try to answer, no one is there.”

 Alright, no one told me the vibration meant I was getting an email. Definitely not my fault! These things should be clearly explained.

 I love texting! That way if I’m crabby or don’t like someone, there’s no voice to give it away. I never text while driving; I’m not that coordinated anyway.

 I do social networking and have over 500 friends there. My family was concerned that I have friends I don’t really know, so my grandson went into my profile to make my phone number and address inaccessible. Hm! It had been accessible to people?

Still not doing twitter, though., and I’m not a fan of IM either. Imagine being able to see someone elsewhere in the world via Skype.

Ebooks? As for now, I still love to hold a "real" book in my hands

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Not a Coincidence!

God works in mysterious ways – especially when you commit your writing to Him.  I pray every day that God will bless what I write, but more importantly, that He guides my thoughts when I sit at the computer.

I am currently editing, and revising  (as needed) the novel I’m working on. This is a very frustrating process, at least for me. So many details that have got to be fine tuned. Grrr!

My heroine is from a small town and I chose the state of Washington. Some events take place in Seattle and Yakima, which are larger, more well-known cities. But I needed a small town. I googled  “small towns in Washington population 1000-1500.” I got a list and from that list, I researched each town. There were certain criteria I needed, so I started eliminating accordingly. Last on the list was Yacolt, which seemed to have all the qualities I wanted.

I went with Yacolt. But the more I edited and revised, I wasn’t pleased. I needed more information about Yacolt, mostly pictures of the town. I couldn’t find any. How could I have my heroine walk from school to the drugstore to her home unless the town was laid out as so? Could she swim in a pond in a town where there wasn’t one?

Finally I gave up and gave my town a fictitious name.  Now I wasn’t happy, but at least I could make the town how I wanted it. I looked with sorrow at my little fictitious town. Every other city or town in my novel is real.

I sell on Ebay and sold a little Fisher Price toy yesterday. When the payment came through, I almost fell over. I was shipping to a lady in Yacolt, WA. What were the chances? I fired off an email and she replied, asking me to consider keeping Yacolt as my little town. She sent a wealth of information about their sweet town. It is perfect!

It pays to pray over all that we do.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Zumba and Writing

Zumba! I’ve been hearing a lot about Zumba, an exercise craze, the past few years. Exercise! Bah humbug!

When I was young I loved to diet and exercise. I loved staying in shape and maintaining my weight. I had five babies, and after each birth, I’d exercise faithfully. Sometimes I felt addicted to exercise.  I pursued exercise and dieting with a drive and passion.  I had discipline.

When I was younger I also dreamed of being a writer.  I yearned to write, but I never disciplined myself to writing. My life always seemed too full, too busy, too hectic to spend time writing.

I heard a speaker or preacher say one time that we make time for what’s important to us.  Looking back, I could’ve found time to write.  Oh, I made half-hearted attempts to write. I loved keeping journals and I did do that for many years, but I never worked on that novel.

Now I’m retired. And I write! I write all the time. In fact, I write when I probably should be doing something else. I am disciplined! I have drive! I have passion!  When I’m not writing, I’m reading or studying about the craft of writing.

Alas, not so with dieting and exercising! I bought a really nice treadmill from my daughter about two months ago and I have been faithful about maintaining a daily time on the treadmill. I’m still working on the healthy eating though.

I started going to a Zumba class recently. It’s fun! It’s invigorating! But it is hard work, at least for this sixty-three-year old. It’s going to take discipline.

It seems ironic to me that when I was young, I had discipline when it came to diet and exercise, but not with writing. Now it’s reversed. I want to write and I am. I want to get in shape, but....

The things that make you go hm!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

50,000 Words in 30 Days!

So here it was, 2009, I was a little (cough, cough) past 60 and all my life I’d wanted to be a writer. But I just never had time because, well, life happened! So, driven by unfulfilled desires, I’d embellish and elaborate on my memos on my job, my emails to family and friends, my post-it notes plastered everywhere, all my creative juices clamoring for an outlet.

So that October, I allowed my friend Jan to bully - well, not bully, she’s not like that - gently persuade me to try my artistic hand at NaNoWriMo. I DON"T HAVE TIME I kept telling her. What? Write 50,000 words in 30 days during the month of November? You must be nuts! I must be nuts, I thought as I took the plunge. Jumping Jehosophat! I finished with over 60,000 words on my great American novel. After working a full time job, doing eBay for extra $$$$, and my family/church activities, I’ve no idea where those 60,000 words came from.

I pursued my writing that month with a frenzied excitement, positive that I was on the brink of a masterpiece.The words gushed forth as my fingers clickety-clacked on the keyboard. I fell asleep thinking of my characters and awoke with my characters taunting me to not leave them stuck in yesterday's muck and mire. My characters were my friends and sometimes my adversaries. How could that be?

Just when I thought I’d finished, I started editing and revising, and it grew with each telling. The madness must stop, I’d tell myself. I had so many other things to do. I don’t have a maid, chef or chauffeur. No one climbed into my van each morning in my place and headed to downtown Phoenix to work. No one did my eBay for me.

With a huge sigh, and a pat on the back, I deemed my novel finished. At more advice from Jan, who seems to know because she's had 2 books published, I bought a Writer's Market from a bookstore, smug with my accomplishment and soon-to-be-published novel. Yowzers! You mean in a book of 1169 pages, there are not several hundred publishers just vying for my book? Oh, I was but a little child lost on the first day of school in a crowd of hundreds, maybe thousands, most of them towering over me. I was just a speck in the unpublished writers’ ocean.

What did it mean...2-12 months before a reply to my query, and 2-12 months to publish once there is an acceptance to my query? And I may get rejected repeatedly before I get accepted?!! Say it isn't so! My manuscript will gather dust and my characters will shrivel up and turn putrid like the fruit sitting in the bowl on my kitchen counter. (yes, I’m going to toss it in the garbage - the fruit, not my manuscript)

So once again I’m confronted with the truth that nothing in life is easy! Is it worth pursuing? I say yes.

Weekly Writing Challenge

I love the Weekly Challenge writing prompts at FaithWriters.  Every week members are given a topic (or prompt) and have a week to submit a 150-750 word entry. This can be a short story, devotional or poem, fiction or non-fiction. It is a competitive in nature:  a team of judges  reads each entry, there are 4 levels, and pick first, second, third places plus two Highly Recommended for each level.   Other members can read and critique each entry and leave a comment before the judges make their selections.   Then from all entries the judges select the coveted ten top entries for Editor’s Choice each week.

 Every year all the #1 picks for Editor’s Choice are eligible to be picked for the whole year’s first, second, and third place entries. This year I was fortunate enough, along with thirty six others, to have been selected as number one in Editor’s Choice one week making me eligible for this. Alas, I got the news two weeks ago that I did not place first, second or third for the year.  I was just a tad bummed, but was still overwhelmingly blessed to have made it into the top 36.

This week’s prompt is “Picnic.” I’ve already submitted my entry. Why do I enter this every week? Because the knowledge I’ve gleaned has been priceless. I am untrained and without any schooling in writing, so these types of things have been food for my insatiable writer’s appetite.

As a writer we must constantly be learning, either through reading, studying or partaking in all the groups, workshops and conferences available to us.

I encourage you to be hungry to learn all you can.  If you aren’t already, be a voracious reader. Read “how to” books for writers, read novels and observe other’s writing styles.

Given the topic “Picnic,” what would you write? Does something instantly pop into your mind, or are you like me and have to mull it over for awhile?

If God has given you the gift to write, then WRITE!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Plotter? Seat of the Pants'er?

Plotters and SOTP’s (seat of the pants) writers!  To what group do you belong as a writer?

Ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you I am not an organizer. I envy women that have their cupboards, closets, shelves and drawers organized. Kudos to them! Unfortunately, I’m not sufficiently impressed to implement it into my own lifestyle. I could, and have, organized but it’s not long until everything’s back to unorganized. (I refuse to use the term cluttered)

So a SOTP’er I am! The neat thing in being a non-plotting writer is that every time I sit at my computer to write, it’s like a new adventure.  My characters take on a life of their own. Just when I think I’ll take them down a certain path, they change directions.

My current WIP Like a Cedar in Lebanon started off being the young girl’s story. But now 112,000 words later, it is more the man’s story.  Lebanon (Lebby) is the young girl who gets taken advantage of by the older, more experienced Jack.  It was supposed to be her story, Lebby’s story, and it is to some extent.

But my SOTP writing took me on a journey to tell Jack’s story in this novel. The angry, violent, abuser Jack and the circumstances in life that drove him to be the way he was became one of the main focal points in the novel.

The good news is that in the end Jack finds God.  As a Christian writer, I always want to show that we can be a victorious overcomer through Jesus Christ.  That is a truth that you can take to the bank.

So regardless if you are a plotter or SOTP’er, write on, dear friends! Write on!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Confused as a Writer?

I am so confused! Beats, tags, back story, adverbs, unnecessary POV, show not tell, underuse of dialogue, too much description, not enough description…. the list goes on and on. Just when I think I have it all down, I read something else which blatantly points out my inability to write effectively.

 I belong to several writers’ groups and I am a voracious reader, constantly hoping to improve my skills. But honestly, sometimes it gets to be a bit overwhelming with all the additional pointers and information I glean. Sometimes I think if I read one more “Tips for Writers” advice,  I’ll scream.

Seriously! I can only tweak my WIP so many times, right?  So why write?

Because I love to! Because I want to! And because I can!

At some point I am going to have to just stop changing my novel, my WIP.  If I keep this up, I’ll never finish. So I have come to the place where I’ll continue to cover my writing with prayer and go with my gut instinct.

God is not the author of confusion, right? (1 Corinthians 14:33)

But where would I be without all those well intended tips and advice from the experienced and the experts? So in humble appreciation to those who seek to enlighten us writers and would-be writers, I say THANK YOU!