Posts Tagged With: writing resources

An Awesome Mini-Conference You Should Attend

Hi, all!

I know that this is not a part of my series that I’m working on, but I feel that you should all be aware of a wonderful opportunity in the writing world.

On Oct. 19, Karen Ball will be the featured speaker at Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, OK at an all-day mini-conference. For those of you who don’t know, Karen Ball is a literary agent for the Steve Laube Literary Agency–a very prestigious agency! She also worked as an executive editor for various publishing houses over the past 30 years, and she’s also an author.

She is going to speak on four different subject: Write Your Passion & the Spiritual Side of Writing, How NOT to Get Rejected, Taming Fiction Dragons, and Everything You Want to Know About Editors, Agents, and Publishing (Q&A).

The mini-conference will start bright and early at 8:30 am and will continue until 4:30 pm. It is open to the public, but you must register to attend. Online registration is $50 and at-the-door registration is $60. The mini-conference will also allow you to submit a 20 page segment of your first chapter for local authors to take a look at and give you hints and tips for an additional $15 fee. Here is the event schedule:

SCHEDULE
 8:30am – Registration opens
8:30am – 9:30am Meet & Greet with Karen
9:30 – Welcome address
9:45-10:45am – Session One
10:45am – Break
11:00am-12:00pm – Session Two
12:00-1:00pm – Lunch on your own
1:15-2:00pm – Genre-Specific Discussion Groups
2:00-3:00pm – Session Three
3:00 – Break
3:15-4:15pm – Session Four

For those of you who are interested, here is the site with all of the information and the page with the registration link.

I hope you can all attend! (And, yes, I will be there!)

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey, The Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Word of Encouragement

Hello, my lovelies!

A thought occurred to me as I ate my dinner: I’ve spent a whole lot of my time telling you how to write, what to write, and giving you tips and such, but I haven’t given very much encouragement regarding hardly ANYTHING I’ve been telling you about. It severely displeased me that I had so obviously fallen short on this important task–after all, encouragement can be incredibly beneficial to a writer who is either stuck or second guessing their journey. So, here goes…

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL AT WHAT YOU DO!

I’m not just saying that. You are doing what you are doing because you are good at it. Think back to the reason why you wanted to become a writer. It was probably because you felt at ease with writing. Or your friends and family gushed over how well you wrote. Or you had the determination to write about an idea from beginning to end because you wanted to.

I know every now and then things can get pretty tough for writers. We either hit writer’s block, the bane of our existence, or we are in some sort of financial distress be it big or small, or we just flat out don’t believe in ourselves. I know. There was a long time when I was sure that my writing skills would never get better from the cringe-worthy sappy mush I started out writing when I was younger. I was so convinced, I hid the stories I wrote from my family because I felt they were too stupid to see the light of day. And now I’m planning my wedding, and I’m a poor college student who recently thought that being a writer would never be able to be financially supporting. And don’t even get me started on writer’s block–I get that far too often.

But you know what I realized? I was writing not to prove my writing worth. Not to give me a steady income. Not to be an easy feat. I was writing because regardless of any of the three issues above, I could rise above it. And…I loved it. My fiancé pulled me aside when he noticed that my effort to create written art was getting pretty slack, and I confessed that I wasn’t sure that it was for me. He took my shoulders and looked me in the eye saying, “You know I don’t read hardly anything, but I love reading your stuff. You are so passionate about it that it just makes everything better. It doesn’t matter that you may not make the big bucks, it doesn’t matter that you may get writer’s block. You are good at what you do because you love doing it.”

YOU ARE ABLE TO DO WHATEVER YOU SET YOUR MIND TO

If you want to have your novel published, YOU CAN! That article you want to write for your favorite magazine? SEND THE QUERY! Not to sound pretentious, but take me for example. I was a closet writer for the vast majority of my writing career (like it ever was a career), and one day, I decided to sign up for the Professional Writing class the writing department that my college began to offer. After all, I had the wisp of a dream to be a published author, and that was professional, right? So, I attended to class, gladly soaking up all the knowledge that I could. After a semester of learning about all types of professional writing options, my wispy dream morphed into a more tangible dream to be a well known author through writing helpful articles for anyone who was looking for tips. That’s the same reason why I began this blog. Now, I’ve decided that I was to follow in my professor’s footsteps and not only write as a freelance writer and author, but I want to be a writing professor just like her.

This isn’t just a story of how I effortlessly jumped into an actual career of writing. It took 2 months for me to build up the courage to send my first query letter. I put it off, put it off, put it off because I was so unsure if I was ready for it. Was my idea good enough? Are my skills high enough? What should my name be?! (Yes, this was a serious issue for me.) Finally, when my professor asked if I had sent my query, I had to guiltily say no and give the reason why I hadn’t. Her answer was eye opening. She looked at me and said, “The worst they can do is say no. That’s it.” And that’s the truth for ANY WRITING. The worst anyone can say is that they won’t publish your work or that it isn’t what they were looking for. They aren’t going to whisper to other companies that your ideas were dumb. They aren’t going to sabotage your goals. They aren’t going to make a spectacle. All they can say is no.

Yes, many times your work WILL be rejected, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s pretty normal. My professor once told me of how a fellow writer wall papered the walls of his office with his rejection letters. That’s right. The rejection letters. If it means anything to you, the same query that took me 2 months to send was rejected. I saved the letter and resubmit my query to a different magazine who also rejected it. BUT, the second company agreed to send me early notification when they were opening up their submissions for the next issue they would publish.

The point of this kind of long example is that you CAN do it. You have the ability and the integrity for it. All you have to do is try. If your idea is accepted on the first go, that’s great! If not, it’s ok. Save that rejection letter and try again. That way, when your idea is finally accepted (because it will be), you can show the world how many times you got back up and tried again.

Don’t cheat yourself because you are discouraged. Do what you love with the knowledge that you are able to do it.

I honestly hope this is inspiring to you. Some of you may not need it, and some of you may feel that this came at just the right time. Either way, thank you so much for taking the time to read my words. Believe it or not, you guys encourage me every day. Every time I see that someone has viewed my page, or liked my post, or followed my blog, it helps me believe that this is what I can do. Because I love writing just like you do. So, thank you so much.

 

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey, Freelancing | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Tips on Tone

Tone can be a bit tricky. Since it’s the product of several different things, it’s one of the more allusive tools that a writer can use. The trick is to figure out how to manipulate these different factors so that you wind up with type of tone you’re going for.

The main questions you want to ask yourself before you begin is: What tone do I want my story to give off/What tone do I want this scene to give off?

Once you’ve decided, you can begin manipulating the three key factors.

Imagery and Setting

Imagery and setting will lend themselves to the tone more than any of the other factors. Depending on how you describe what is being seen in your story, the readers will pick up on the tone you’re trying to convey. Where are they? An abandoned house? A field of blooming daisies? What’s the weather like? All of these and more will build to show the reader tone.

For example, Alexander peered out of the dust-caked window, and a chill slithered down his spine. Cobwebs floated in the corners and on the door frames, dancing in the draft of the old house. He jumped at a sudden flash of light and cowered at the resounding boom shook the panes, sounding like old bones.

Now, Sammy flung her arms out as she spun, her dress swirling like a ballerina’s tutu. The sunlight warmed the ground under her bare feet, and the bright flowers gave the sweetest smell. Her woven crown slipped over her eyes and she giggled.

See how imagery and setting lend themselves to the overall tone? Both examples were only three sentences, and you can clearly tell that the first has a creepy tone and the second has a childish joy.

Narrator

How you use the narrator will add to the tone as well. What is he like? Is he happy? Is he sad? Is he angry? What’s the POV (point of view) that you show him in? All of these things add to the tone. If the narrator is happy, he wouldn’t describe the setting to be dark and gloomy; if the narrator is sad, he wouldn’t describe the setting to be peppy and cheerful. Is the reader seeing through the narrator’s eyes, or is the reader looking over his shoulder? How you narrate the story will effect the tone. It may be small, and it may be huge; it’s all up to you.

Type of Story

The type of story that you are creating has a large part in the type of tone you will wind up with. Horror stories usually have eerie tones, Mystery stories usually have suspense tones, Science Fiction stories usually have either naive or knowledgable tones, etc. Once you decide what kind of tone you want your story to have, you can fashion your story into the style of story that would best suit it. If you’re writing a story that winds up having more suspense in it than what you were originally going for, you could refashion it into a thriller. If it winds up making you glance into dark corners as you go to bed, you may want to refashion it into a horror novel if it isn’t already.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

3 Things You Should Be Doing (Are YOU?)

There are many things that we, as writers, can do to improve our writing. Unlike many professions, ours is one that changes in dynamic and criterion. So, in order to be a top-notch writer, we need to actively be improving. There are many things you can do to improve including going to lectures, taking classes, attending conventions, etc., but these three things, you can (and should) do every day.

Write Every Day

It is imperative to write every day. Why? Because it stimulates your brain and gets your creative juices flowing. It is always a good habit to have. I’ve found that when I devote some of my time to writing, I hit writer’s block less often. If you’re at a loss at how you can write every day, there are several things you can do:

  • Blog–blogging is a great way to write every day. You can make a blog about virtually anything. A good tip is to make a blog about something that you’re passionate about so that you don’t get bored with it. 
  • Journal–I keep a journal for all of the adventures I go on. Whenever I travel, whenever I eat new foods, and whenever I do something I’ve never done before, I jot it down in my journal so that I can use my experiences in my writing.
  • Work on a project–I always keep a project open to work on be it a manuscript or a new idea or an outline.

You can do any of the above, just as long as you make sure that you write every day. It also helps to set aside a time to write in which you will not be disturbed. The amount of time that you write is up to you. Some writers suggest 2 hours, some say increments of 10 minutes at a time–I honestly prefer setting aside at least 2 hours that are devoted to writing. And, no, Facebook conversations don’t count.

Read Every Day

In order to stay on top of your writing, it’s a good idea to read every day. Not only is it fun, but reading expands your mental horizons and can give you an idea of where to begin. For example, if you’re thinking about writing a science fiction piece, pick up a science fiction novel or short story. Are you trying to figure out how to write a mystery novel? Grab one and read it. Wondering how characters would react to a certain character? Examine how other writers have written the interactions in their works.

Just be sure that you aren’t taking ideas from others. That’s a literary no-no. The purpose of writing every day isn’t to rip off other’s works but only to keep ideas flowing through your minds that you can adapt to fit into your own writing.

Connect

An easy way for people to follow along with your writing journey is to connect with the cyber world. Now-a-days, nearly everyone has a Facebook or Twitter. Posts, ideas, stories, and much more are shared all across social networks. Here are some examples that you can do to utilize these opportunities and stay with the times:

  • Set up a Facebook page for your writing. Be it a page of you as an author or a page dedicated to your blog; it’s up to you. I have a Facebook page for my blog, and my blog only, but I know a lot of writers who have set up pages for themselves to promote their writings. 
  • Set up a Twitter account. As many of you know, Twitter is a nice way to connect to other writers and to share your latest writings.
  • Sign up with Google+. Since Google+ is one of the newest social media sites, not many people really understand it. I like to think of it like this: You use Facebook to connect with people you know and use Google+ to connect with those you don’t know but would like to. It’s pretty useful to add people to different circles, and you can join communities that share the same interests as you. I’ve heard from many writers that they’ve actually been given freelance jobs because they contacted other writers and publications that were on Google+ (and trust me–there are a lot).
  • Get a LinkedIn account. It’s free, and it’s professional. This is where you can make connections with others in your profession. It can help you get connected with those that you need to such as publishers and agents. Think of it like a modern-day Rolodex. You can keep the contact information of job sources and agents on one nice, professional site.

There are many other options to connect to the cyber world, but these are a few of the most popular. The purpose of having them, however, isn’t to spam your followers with just your works and inquiries. This is how you connect with others and make bonds with them. Make friendships. Get connected. They will help you with your writing if you just ask, but you have to get to know them first.

Since social media tends to have an addictive quality to it, I suggest limiting your time on the sites. Give yourself no more than 30 minutes updating your statuses and connecting with others, because it’s easy to stay connected all day and neglect the other two things you should be doing: reading and writing.

(See my About the Author page if you’re interested in connecting with me.)

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

The Art of Flashbacks

Flashbacks are a very useful tool in  writing. They offer new dimensions to works and allow the reader to literally glimpse into your character’s life during the flashback, but there are a few things to be aware of when you write flashbacks into your story.

Be Sure They Are Relevant

The point of flashbacks, just like scenes, is to convey some important characteristic of the characters involved. You don’t want to be in the middle of writing about a character and then throw in a disconnected flashback. That would only confuse your readers. For example, Sarah was working in the coffee shop just like she always had. She was rubbing down the counter, hoping he would come in before closing. His credit card told her his name was Peter Schools, and she had his order memorized since he only came in to buy one thing: a chai tea latte with extra cream and a shot of espresso. She remembered back to when she was a girl in class and her go-to was the purple crayon.

Wait, what?! Unless she has memory problems or is a little crazy, the flashback means nothing to the readers and could very well dissuade them from continuing. Instead of remembering about crayons, she could remember back to when he had ordered the first time and shyly apologized for the odd order. She might even think back to when she had accidentally spilled his latte all over him and the counter because she was so nervous to serve such a cute guy.

Use Them Sparingly

No one wants to read a novel that’s littered with flashbacks. Not only are they somewhat distracting by stopping current narration to show a past even, but if too many flashbacks are used, they will interfere with the flow of the novel. No one wants to be deep in the middle of an epic fight scene and then, suddenly, the action stops because a flashback was used. For example, Sarah was brewing her fortieth cafe late that day, and her feet were hurting. She thought back to when she used to work at a desk job and sighed. She handed the customer his drink and took his bill. She looked at the worn paper and smiled as she remembered the one time a customer had given her a bill in which Washington had been doodled on to look like batman. She have him his change and glanced up when the bell jingled and thought of the time someone had opened the door so quickly, the bell flew off and landed in someone’s cappuccino. It was him! She remembered the first time she saw him: it had rained, and his hair was plastered to his face. She smiled at him and took his order. The last time he ordered, he was wearing a red shirt and she had given his drink to him on the house. As she was brewing the drink, she frowned when she remembered her boss yelling at her for giving him the coffee.

It’s taxing, isn’t it? The reader has a hard time keeping up with current events as the flashbacks just keep coming. Not only that, but the reader is also left with a lot of questions: What happened to her desk job? What did she do with the bill since it was vandalized? What did the customer do when the bell flew into his drink? What’s the significance of her remembering his wet hair? What happened when her boss was yelling? Why was he yelling? Etc. Some readers would get frustrated with so many questions left unanswered, and this was only one paragraph! Flashbacks are helpful, but too many of them could be harmful to the success of your story. Never add a flashback if you think the reader may wonder why it’s even there in the first place; they are meant to add to the plot, not distract from it.

Narrate Them

There’s no point in stopping your narrative to have your character think back on a past event with a broad statement (e.g. Sam reached forward to grab the rope and thought about the last time. He grabbed the rope…). What last time? It’s like a flashback that only the character can see. It’s your job as the writer to involve your reader in your characters’ lives. So, instead of alluding to something, actually narrate what had happened. Sam reached forward to grab the rope and couldn’t help remembering last time: he had missed the rope, and Sandra had crashed to the floor, breaking her arm. He grabbed the rope and felt his muscles relax with relief.

Be sure that as you incorporate flashback, you introduce them in some way so that the reader isn’t confused. Don’t be afraid to use transitions. Some examples are: Sally remembered back when…George thought about the time that…Suddenly, Sue was transported to her childhood when…etc.

The only time you wouldn’t necessarily have to introduce the flashback is if you were writing in present tense. For example: Jimmy leaps over the last hurdle and throws his fist in the air victoriously. He fell flat on his face the last time he tried. Jimmy runs up to his girlfriend, takes the water bottle from her, and gives her a kiss.

This technique doesn’t work if you’re writing in past tense, as many writers do. You HAVE to prepare your reader for the flashback, or they will get confused.

I hope this helps you in your writing journey!

Thanks for reading!

Categories: Fiction/Non-Fiction Writing, For Your Journey | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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