Spotlight on Writing

What About All Those Books on Writing?!

I have coughed up big bucks for writer conferences over all my writing years. But you know what has taught me the most about writing?

Books on craft and critiquing others’ work!

And I would not be able to critique others’ manuscripts without the knowledge absorbed from these books.

In the past I’ve spoken about a few books on writing, yet it was not until my latest purchase that I realized I have a stack of books on craft (I think it might be time to re-read them all again).

Why do I find books on craft so helpful? Because I can absorb the information at my pace. I can read, highlight, pause, contemplate, and read again. I can go back and look up specific information when I’m stuck on a manuscript (It’s not nice to pause an entire conference so you can skim through your manuscript and make a note).

My advice for books on craft is, the newest…the bestest (not a word I know). Writing is always changing with what is acceptable and what is “historic writing.” If you are reading a book published in 2001, while a large chunk is still relevant, a lot is not. (Yes, I understand Stephen King’s book on writing is timeless, shriek, no I haven’t read it)

Bonus: my latest interview can be found here.

P.S. If you have any books on craft that you love let me know!

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Spotlight on Writing

Naming Your Characters

I absolutely love and loathe naming characters. Think about all the time parents spending picking, arguing, voting, and vetoing names for their kids! It is not any different for writers. A name can help or hurt a manuscript.

The first part is trying to find a name that is familiar, so readers can relate. Yet, the name must also be unique to prevent readers from finding it “boring.”

The second part is matching the name to the characters’ lifestyle, age, and how readers might perceive the name. It’s like the devils on your shoulder, GOOD and BAD.

GOOD: Name her Alice, everyone loves an Alice.

BAD: Alice  sounds like she would be my grandma.

GOOD: But your Grandma Alice is the best.

BAD: Yes, but she is still my grandma. I don’t want to date my grandma.

Although part one and two look similar, they are different in their own right. You would not give a Greenlandic name to a Oklahoma man who has no family connections with Greenland. Another example could be Rose. Rose might be perceived one way by a large group of readers, which might hurt or help make your story. If the reader doesn’t believe that Rose is a 10-year-old skateboarding champion then you lose the connection with the reader.

I do a detailed amount of research on the names I use, making sure the origin, etc. would be a good match for my characters. My favorite tool to use for character names is Baby Name Origins.

Spotlight on Writing

When Your Story Loses its Oars

 

I’ve been working on my revisions for a picture book, rather intensely, over the last month.

I reached out to new contacts and made more contacts, but kept falling short of the answers I needed.

To top it off, what I started to discover was that I had incorrect parts in my manuscript. But without the needed answers I couldn’t fix the mistakes. And, I could not resubmit the piece in the current state. I felt like a boat at sea who lost its oars.

There I was sitting in the boat, the water around me calm, the oars floating away. I struggled to make them out as they disappeared beyond the horizon. A storm was nowhere in sight, just my boat and I, stranded in the calmest of waters. We are not sure how long we will be there in the silence. The boat and I.

Sure, I could hand paddle back to a shore, somewhere out of view. I know it’s there, but I’m not about to waste my time if the oars come floating back. Yet, with my new knowledge, I only had two options. Wait for the oars or let the boat sink.

I decided to wait…..(flailed my arms a bit and ate too much chocolate)

And would you believe the oars came back and brought more oars with them?!

Readers, don’t give up on your stories. Seek out help, try new avenues. It’s worth it and you might even learn something new.

Spotlight on Writing

Why Some Rejections Do More Harm Than Good

You know what I’m talking about, right?

If you have ever hit send on a query and nearly danced in your chair, you know.

You swear you found the perfect agent, editor, or publisher. You studied up, you social media stalked, you perfected the query with sprinkles of personalization. That moment you hit send you actually smiled instead of cringed with worry and doubt.

This submission…THE PERFECT MATCH!

Then….

Dear Author……thanks, but no thanks.

How could this happen? This must be a mistake! Every positive thought you had about your writing and understanding how to query is now a sandbox of self-doubt. Why do I even bother writing you holler?!

This thought process ultimately sinks not only your self esteem, but your writing. You might take time off. Maybe delete all your stories or vow to be a reader and never a writer again.

Then, for most, we climb out of the sandbox, brush our pants off and return to writing and submitting. Only this time we remind ourselves that we can’t get hopeful about submitting. We can’t think we found a great match to query. So we don’t put our full hundred and ten percent into our submissions.

I’m here to tell you, stop. You must put just as much love and effort into each submission. Regardless of the outcome, if you don’t you will miss an opportunity. The opportunity to know that you did your best whether it is a yes or a no. Each manuscript is, often, a one shot deal. Don’t allow the ones before to prevent you from a yes now.

Appreciation Monday, Life, better known as blah, blah, blah, Spotlight on Writing

Going into 2018 

Writers have a tough job. Not only do they need to create an original story, but they have to sell it too. If that is your end goal it will most often come with rejections. A lot! 
It’s similar to going to work and being told you suck at your job, but we are going to keep you on, someday you’ll get it right. Talk about walking back to your desk with your head hanging down.

Okay, now you have managed to sell your manuscript. Guess what?! When your book comes out you are judged too. Through sales and reviews. 

Thus, writing takes strength to believe in yourself, and your work. And, for most, it comes with stress and anxiety, even depression at times. But this year I’m making it great, and pushing past that. 

Now, I’m not into making new year’s goals, as I’ve mentioned over the years on my blog. But, I am into pondering. Hmm, maybe I should write a book about pondering. I’m rather an expert at this point. I look at 2017 and take what I didn’t handle well and focus on how I can lessen or all together prevent those choices. This includes my writing.

I hope, whether you have goals or pondering”s” that you make the best out of each day, week, and month. That you make yourself happy, and thus others around you will be happy too.