Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer "Progress"

Hi everyone, I hope you're trucking right along with your summer--now that it's already 2/3 over. It's going fast!

What I've done so far this summer:

WRITING STUFF
1. The end of June I finished the first round of revisions for my agent.
2. I joined Facebook and Goodreads.
3. I redesigned my author website, HERE. New stuff on the last 2 tabs and will add more later once I get a publisher and a book cover. I used Blogger as an easy and free template; my techie hubby removed the blogging elements--the ones I couldn't delete myself, like that dumb Post Atom thingy and the nav bar. It only cost the $12 annual domain-name-fee from GoDaddy. Can't beat that!
4. Today I'm featured as a WOW guest writer on Adventures to Children's Publishing! Click for more on my journey of writing and obtaining an agent.
5. I wrote 3 pages of a new WIP plus some plot notes. Um…better than nothing.
6. I've critiqued some stuff for my critter buddies.

NON-WRITING STUFF
1. I saw Harry Potter 7 pt 2 with my daughter, her boyfriend, my hubby, and some Kleenex. Love that Gringots' dragon!! Great special effects throughout.
2. Had a BBQ with the neighbors with mozzarella sausages, grapes, garlic salsa and chips, and chocolate chunk cookies. Yummers!
3. I read DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. Quite a fast-paced read. Reminded me of HUNGER GAMES, with its elimination theme and the violent/bloody parts. If you haven't read it, hang tight. I plan to use it as a blog giveaway prize in the future!!
4. The hubbs and I vacationed on the Oregon coast, tent camping. Here's a lovely deserted beach we found north of Florence:

YOUR TURN
How are your writing goals and projects going this summer?
Are you enjoying family, friends, and sun--or doing any traveling?
Have you seen the final Harry Potter movie yet? Didja need Kleenex?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Review: WRITING YA FICTION FOR DUMMIES

The past couple of weeks, I've had the pleasure to review a copy of WRITING YOUNG ADULT FICTION FOR DUMMIES by Deborah Halverson at DearEditor.com. Not only is Deborah the former editor of Harcourt Children's Books, she is also the author of the novels BIG MOUTH and HONK IF YOU HATE ME. She is the mother of triplets, so she is living proof that writing can still be accomplished with a busy schedule (no more excuses out there, people! LOL).

A Dozen Thoughts:
1. Not only is this book for writers of YA, it's for writers of MG fiction. Deborah uses the term "young adult" in the title to mean writing for teens as well as preteens. So it really is more comprehensive than at first glance, covering novels with protagonists ages 9-18.
2. The book is comprehensive, starting out from setting up a writing workspace all the way to the how-to's of publication.
3. Deborah covers what NOT to do as well as what to do. Nitty-gritty do's and don'ts. Learn them in this book and avoid awkward mistakes!
4. She covers self-publishing along with traditional publishing.
5. She includes really cool checklists for novels, as well as writing exercises that make you think about what's going on with your themes, characters, and plots. I am SO going to use the "Using Your Hook to Shape Your Story" section with its handy checklist, for my next WIP.
6. Sidebars include tips from well-known YA authors and agents. Fun to read! Want to see what Cynthia Leitich Smith (ETERNAL, TANTALIZE and BLESSED) has written about paranormal fiction on her page entitled "More Than Monsters"? Read this book.
7. The book is organized into self-contained logical sections so you can browse it like a smorgasbord, choosing what you want, when you need it.
8. I love this intro sentence, as Deborah's goal for what writers can take away from the book: "…how to think like a kid but strategize your novel and your career like an adult."
9. There are great details for the beginning writer, but also wonderful reminders and juicy new tidbits and food-for-thought for more seasoned writers. I learned new things reading it, even though I've been writing and absorbing info for 10 years!
10. Deborah includes great tips for writer's block.
11. There is a section on keeping track of your bibliography for historical or factual research. For instance, she suggests printing or saving online articles, not merely bookmarking them, because websites have a tendency to disappear. Yikes! Good tip, there.
12. And there's a reminder that Wikipedia is NOT always an accurate or reliable source of info. Always double-check facts from these kinds of unofficial sites.

Bottom line: This book is not just for "dummies"!

Check it out on Amazon HERE and at the Dummies Store HERE.

YOUR TURN
Does this sound like a book you could use in your quest to become a better writer?
What other how-to books are your favorites, that have been useful to you?
Do you have a busy schedule--with children or a "real" job--to squeeze your writing time into?

***********

ALSO: I now belong to Facebook! Join me while I bumble around figuring it out.
My personal page to Friend me: HERE.
My author page for updates or to Like me: HERE --or click Like on my sidebar
(I hope that sidebar linky works…somebody please let me know if it doesn't). You may have to click my name rather than the little Like icon; not sure.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Writer's Block: Photo Prompts

In last week's post I mentioned WRITER'S BLOCK as a writerly term. It's where you finally get a chance to sit and write, and--rats! No words can be coaxed from your brain onto the page or screen. I can't say as I've ever experienced it, since I start out a typical writing day going over what I've previously written, and that seems to be enough to get me in the swing of things. I also do some of the following:

Some Ways to Deal With Writer's Block
1. Spend your "off-hours" pondering what will happen next. In the shower. While washing dishes. Then by the time you're actually sitting in front of your journal/computer, you'll be chomping at the bit and prepared to write.
2. Outline your plot--at least roughly--so you know where you're going with your story.
3. At the end of a writing session, halt in the MIDDLE of a scene rather than at the end, so you have an easy start the next time.
4. Have a file or folder with Shiny New Ideas for the future, for when you finish a project and are ready to start a new one.
5. Do a writing exercise, such as writing a short scene in your character's point of view about something unrelated to your novel. Something in his/her past, perhaps.
6. Interview your characters and see what makes them tick. Knowing your characters better may help gain clues as to their motivations and future actions.
7. Do an image search online. Type in something like "cottage in a forest" or "sad girl" or "sci-fi city." Use a photo to inspire you.

How about this photo to get your writerly gears turning? [photo removed in 2012 due to potential copyright issues].

YOUR TURN
If you've ever experienced writer's block, how did you work yourself out of it?
Have you ever used a photo prompt to give you ideas for a story?
What kind of setting, character, or words come to your mind with the above photo?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Writerly Lingo

Like any other field of interest or vocation, writing has its own unique lingo. Acronyms and abbreviations abound. Newbies are often confused, but using abbreviations can speed communication between writers.

Here are some commonly used writerly abbreviations and words:

ARC: Advanced Reading/Review Copy; books handed out for promotional purposes before a book is released for general sale
BEA: BookExpo America; a North American event that showcases what's new in book publishing
BIC: Butt-In-Chair. Sitting down and actually writing, staying until progress is made
CP: critique partner (also can be called a beta reader or critter)
dialogue tag: labels of dialogue like "he said" and "she asked"
full request: request from an agent/editor asking to see a complete finished ms
go on sub: when a writer's agent submits a manuscript to editors/publishers
MC: main character
MG: middle grade fiction; books for readers 8-12, with pre-teen protagonists
ms or mss: manuscript, manuscripts. Also written as MS or MSS.
muse: provides inspiration to writers; can be a person or object--real or imaginary--but it can be a more abstract thing such as music.
NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. Where writers attempt a first draft of an entire novel in 1 month, writing freely w/o editing. This really helps writers if they have a hard time finishing a novel.
New Adult: novels with a protagonist who is post-high school, ages 18-25
partial request: request from an agent/editor asking to see sample chapters of a ms
PB: picture book; for readers ages 5-8
POV: Point of View; whoever is telling the story, filtered through their eyes
RWA: Romance Writers of America, for writers of romantic fiction (YA or adult)
SASE/SAE: self-addressed stamped envelope/self-addressed envelope. Sent with a ms submission to a publisher or editor in order to get the ms sent back.
SCBWI: the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators; a helpful organization for writers used for networking, attending conferences, and other support. PBs up to YA.
Shiny New Idea (SNI/sni): a distracting and compelling idea for a new story idea, often while you're trying to work on another one
slush pile: unsolicited manuscripts at a publishing house or agency
sf&f: science fiction and fantasy
TAT: Turn-Around Time after submission, waiting for acceptance or rejection
The Call: when an agent calls a writer to offer representation (squee!)
WIP: work in progress; a current project a writer is focusing on
writer's block: where a writer sits to write and is unable to
YA: young adult fiction; books for readers 12-18, with teen protagonists


YOUR TURN
How many of these terms did you already know?
Can you add any other abbreviations or writerly lingo to this list?
Have any of the above tripped you up before, when you didn't know what they meant?