Saturday, January 23, 2010

"What Do You Know?" My W.I.T. 1/23/10

"It does no good to know that you don't know something, if you don't make the effort to know it. Apply that thought to getting a book published and you'll be a whole lot closer...both to the knowing and the publishing!" S.L. Whyte

"I'm Not an Idiot...and Neither are You!"

If you've ever read any "The Complete Idiot's Guide to...." books, you will likely recognize a brilliant marketing strategy. The titles have nothing to do with your intelligence. On the other hand, if you've ever shied away from such titles simply because you think you already know everything there is to know about the given topic, well, maybe the word "idiot' would apply. I just finished reading--devouring--The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published (fourth edition by Sheree Bykofsky and Jennifer Basye Sander). What a fabulous book! It's straightforward, informative, well organized and even encouraging. With a yellow highlighter in hand, I marked stuff that I know I need to really internalize and "get". Frankly, I'm looking forward to rereading all the highlighted sections. (Yes, there are actually pages without any yellow!) I know it might sound bizzarro but...well, the truth is...this whole journey of learning about the connection between writing, authoring and the publishing industry really fascinates me! Maybe I'm still just naive. The point is, I've realized it's just that, a journey. One that takes time. And it's a journey you have to be completely committed to, with the emotional stamina to withstand the rejections and all the nitty-grittiness of the process. Call me an idiot but I'm up for it!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"Rain, Rain, Go Away"

I live in the northwest. People often say it rains all the time here but those who say so must not actually live here. Or else they're forgetting the blissfully long spring, summer and fall when blue skies are abundant! The fact is there are numerous places in the country which receive more annual rainfall than Seattle. Isn't it funny how people like to talk about things they know nothing about? Sort of like when I hear a group of local, unpublished writers whine about how all the best agents and editors live in New York. Such ignorance is not becoming of any aspiring author. Or maybe people talk about the alleged incessant rain as a feeble attempt to justify their sour moods when all they see as they look out the window is gloomy dreariness. Please don't hate me if you really do suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder...I'm talking about those individuals who just want to complain about something. Anything! So they blame their entire day on the weather. I'm not sure what they do when something goes right on a rainy day. Who gets their wrath then? Or do they just give glory to the sun gods hiding behind the hovering clouds? Anyway, maybe people talk about how much it rains in Seattle because they don't have anything more interesting to discuss. Sort of like writer's going on and on about the challenge they're having writing a query letter when they haven't even finished the manuscript.

Yes, today it's raining in the Puget Sound. But I like the rain. I like everything about it. So unless it rains for forty days and forty nights straight, with no sign of stopping, I'll welcome it. If it's raining where you are (or even if it's not) and you need a diversion, try this simple writing exercise. For fifteen minutes write down as many metaphors for RAIN or RAINDROP as you can. No right or wrong answers, just whatever rain is to you. Then pull out your manuscript and read five pages you haven't read recently, checking to make sure you have at least one good metaphor per page. Here are a few to get you started:
  • Rain is an invisible, sneezing giant
  • Rain is an exploding comet from a meteor shower
  • Rain is run-off in reverse
  • Rain is a musical composition
  • Raindrops are kisses
  • Raindrops are ballerinas doing pirouettes from the sky
  • A Raindrop is a looking glass
Hope this gets your creative juices soaking wet!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"Writer's Stew" - My W.I.T. 1/7/10

"Gather the freshest ideas from your garden of creativity. Wash thoroughly to remove any critters lingering on the leaves of your literary brain. Cut into big size chunks (the ideas, not the brain!) Make sure the chunks are large enough to fit in the stewing pot but small enough to get in your mouth. Fill pot with water and season with a variety of carefully chosen spices and herbs, otherwise identified as savory adjectives and sizzling adverbs. Add enough plot structure to give the stew tantalizing meaty stuff. Add choice of pasta or grains to add sufficient character (s) and watch them expand as you stir gently. Bring to a rolling boil and continue boiling until ideas and meats reach desired consistency. Allow to simmer. Substantial simmering is required to blend all the flavors properly, diffuse the yummiest aroma, and temp the taste buds. Once you're sure the stew is finished invite soup experts to sip and sample. Pray they ask for the entire recipe and give rave reviews from at least one top rated NY establishment. Wait patiently until you see your creation printed in the #1 Best Selling book titled Award Winning Recipes for Writers."

Monday, January 4, 2010

ABC's for 2010

Rather than tormenting yourself with resolutions that last only a few days, or weeks at most, keep it simple: Each day choose a letter from my Author's Alphabet to focus on. Then see what emerges this year for you as a writer and author!

A - Affirm aloud that you are a writer!
B - Browse your local bookstore
C - Create something new today
D - Delete at least one sentence from each page of your manuscript
E - Edit...AGAIN!
F - Finish a chapter
G - Give yourself fifteen more minutes to write
H - Hook: if the one you've been using in your query hasn't worked yet, get a new one!
I - Imagination, Introspection, and Intrique Invite Interesting characters
J - Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, and Literary Agents: check it out!
K - Keep at matter how many rejections you get
L - Literary Marketplace: check it out!
M - Memorize your pitch and practice it until you know it as well as you know the ABC's
N - News: Read your local newspaper for interesting marketable writing ideas
O - Open a favorite book you haven't read in years and read it again
P - Publisher's Weekly: subscribe today!
Q - Query letter: rewrite it again after careful research on what it should look like
R - Respect your agent's and editor's time...respect your own time
S - Synopsis: condense it!
T - Trust your inner voice and write from your heart not your head
U - Understand why you write and you will better understand yourself
V - Viewpoint: reread your manuscript from a different viewpoint
W - Writer's Conference: research options and sign up for one today!
X - eXpect results equal to your efforts, skill, determination, talent, and perseverance
Y - YES! The word you will be shouting when your editor calls to make an offer
Z - Zany: do something crazy today to invite creativity!