How Do You Do It?

1b9274d0012bdfeccde1fef6c6e083deSo how do you do it? It’s so easy to write blogs on finding time to write, or finding motivation to write. All of the tips and recommendations sound great, until you’re in the same boat as those people you are trying to help.

I’m sitting here in my apartment of one week, following a move that seemed to take a month, and I just want to quit. Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but a break would be nice.

In the past month, I have sold two homes, bought a really nice piece of property and parked in an apartment until our new home can be built.

If that’s not enough, my granddaughter is scheduled to be born (C-section), and I will be bringing her 3 year old energizer bunny brother back to our tiny apartment for the week. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I do love baby brother by the way. I’m just finding it harder to keep up with him 🙂

With all of this craziness, the one thing I know for sure, is I have to plan. When am I going to be able to write without distractions?

It’s Sunday afternoon and pretty quiet for the moment. The calm before the storm. With that in mind, I decided to take advantage of my free time and write my blogs for this coming week. Goodness knows I want have time when little man visits. I can put them in queue and post them on my scheduled days during the week.

Would love to hear from you. How do you do it?

-Jan R

How Do You Do It?

You Have To Make Time!

untitledI love reading Jerry Jenkins blogs. I always take something away from what he has to say. I don’t know that he offers anything different or new, it’s just the way he says it. I read what he’s written, and a light bulb goes off.

He offered some profound information in the last email I received, and I wanted to share it with you. First, he said we all make time to do what we really want to do. Then he followed that up with a comparison of make and find. You won’t ever find the time to write. We all have the same 168 hours per week. The only way to add hours to your calendar is to sacrifice hours from it.

In order to make the time, you must carve something else out of your schedule. It all starts with your priorities. How desperately do you want to write, finish a book, become a novelist?

Only you can determine your priorities. What are you willing to give up to pursue your dream?

TV?

Movies?

Parties?

Concerts?

Sports?

Hobbies?

Social Media?

Jerry Jenkins worked full time and helped his wife raise their three young sons. He wasn’t about to sacrifice his family for writing time, so he scheduled his writing from 9:00pm-12:00am.

What did he sacrifice? TV time, social gatherings with friends, and a couple hours of sleep.

What are you willing to sacrifice?

-Jan R

You Have To Make Time!

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

imagesEX1UP1B8I’m preparing to send my manuscript out to literary agents again. This is the second time it is going out, the first time resulted in rejections, so I have to admit I’m a little apprehensive.

I saw a blog I had written almost a year ago and decided to republish it. It is exactly where I am right now and serves as a reminder to control my inner critic. You know, the one that tells you your work isn’t good enough or ready to be sent out. Most of us writers have one.

No one wants to be humiliated or rejected. Your inner critic will paralyze you by telling you just how bad your work really is (even if it’s not) .  Don’t listen!!! If you’ve gotten this far, you have hopefully addressed all areas that could be in question, and the novel should be pretty doggone close to perfect. If you haven’t done you due diligence and know your work has flaws, fix them before sending it out-common sense right.

I remember doing a Bible study on the battlefield of the mind. Though it’s primary purpose was dealing with spiritual warfare, it also related to many of the issues that we deal with in our everyday lives. Our mind is a battlefield. In writing for example, all of us worry about looking dumb and never getting published. Fiction writers make a business out of being scared, and not just looking dumb.

It took me six months from the time I started writing my novel, to tell my husband what I was doing. When I finally told him, I was a mess. I knew he would be excited for me and encourage me in my endeavor, and I didn’t want to let him down.

For the longest time I treated my novel as a hobby. That’s not a mindset that will get you published. When I finished and sent it out to literary agents, I was more than a little anxious, but the first few rejections confirmed my beliefs. I just wasn’t good enough.

Note that I said, “I wasn’t good enough.” Well that’s not exactly true. The truth is the novel wasn’t good enough. The fact is, it was filled with grammatical and structural errors, there was some serious head hopping going on, and my on-the-nose writing was all but bringing the story to a complete halt.

I don’t know that the inner critic will ever go away. So how do you combat it? You keep moving forward and growing in your craft. Don’t stop writing. I still question my novel, but I know, that I know ,that I know, that it’s a lot better than it was after the unofficial first draft. I’ve learned the hard way and hope you avoid some of my pit falls.

-Jan R

Don’t Believe Everything You Think!

Grammar Is A Must-But Lose That English Teacher Writing!

English teacherI wasn’t an English major, but I never had an issue with stringing words together and making a coherent, easy to read sentence. I know most of the rules, but I also know those rules are meant to be broken, especially if you are writing fiction.

The purpose of English Teacher grammar is to understand how to create sanitized, standardized, easy to understand, impersonal, inoffensive writing. If you’re looking for a job writing pamphlets for the government, instructional manuals, or news reports, then that’s the way to go.

These rules aren’t meant for fiction. That does not mean your story shouldn’t be grammatically and structurally sound. We are talking about styles here, not mechanics.

Fiction writing is nonstandardized, complex, personal, and occasionally offensive. It is the best way to reach into your readers head and show him your words. In order to bring your voice to life and get your world on the page, you need to say goodbye to English Teacher writing.

Fiction Writing Vs. English Teacher Writing

Fiction Writing-fits the world of the book, the mouths of the characters, and the writer who wrote it. English Teacher Writing– incorporates a specific, caricatured, extreme form of writing without regard to the story’s world, characters, or even the writer and what he or she is like.

Fiction Writing changes with the situation. English Teacher Writing is unchanged.

Fiction Writing does not look to impress, it’s sole purpose is to present the story. English Teacher Writing is self-conscious, self-important, and looks and feels forced and out right silly at times.

Fiction Writing is not always pretty, but it always fits the circumstances, characters, and story. English Teacher Writing is always pretty and always smooth, but rarely fits anything.

Example:

Fiction Writing

“Get away! Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!” The girl in the alley curled into a tighter ball, her scarred, skinny arms pulling her knees up against her chest, her eyes white-rimmed, her hair wild.

English Teacher Writing

“Get away from me! Don’t lay a hand on me! Leave me alone!” The girl in the alley, already in a fetal position, pulled her knees tighter to her chest. she wore an expression of dazed panic, and radiated the signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

-Jan R

Grammar Is A Must-But Lose That English Teacher Writing!

Do You Wannabe?

booksWhen I first decided to write my novel, I was so excited. My thought was how hard can it be?  I had a great idea, all I had to do was get it down on paper. I’ve read a lot of books and my story was every bit as good or better than some of them.

So I wrote my first novel. It was over 90,000 words. I thought I did a great job conveying the gist of the story. I had family members read it, and they thought it was great. So I sent it out to agents.

Only one of the agents I submitted to responded with why my book wasn’t publishable. My dialogue dragged, I had on-the-nose-writing, and I was head hopping. Well what the heck was all of that suppose to mean. I didn’t realize there were rules other than grammar.

Well there are rules, and if you expect an agent or a publisher to take you seriously, you’d better learn them. If you haven’t heard the terms mentioned, I would suggest googling them. I have blogs that cover the highlights. Visit me as well, and I will give you the Cliff-notes version.

My initial thought after receiving the rejections, was to throw in the towel. I must admit, I was pretty bummed. I had worked on that manuscript for over a year, faced criticism from family and friends, and developed some unrealistic expectations along the way. But I am a wannabe, and I have no intentions of becoming a wannabe that won’t.

What are the main characteristics of Wannabes that Won’t?

They take their own counsel-That’s a nice way of saying they thought they knew it all. They convinced themselves that they were experts in publishing which led to numerous mistakes. One of my favorite sayings, is you don’t know what you don’t know 🙂

They go rogue-Instead of doing their homework and getting counsel from editors and others in the business, they plunge ahead, falling all over themselves. I’m guilty of this one. I took my own counsel. So I guess I’m guilty of the first characteristic too 🙂

They follow a trend-It takes more than a year to get a book to the market(traditional publishing) and that’s after you find an agent who sells it to a publisher. By the time the book is released the trend could be over.

They believe in overnight success-Overnight success happens about 1 in 1,000,000 times. When the wannabes synopsis or proposal isn’t received with enthusiasm, they quit.

They start their career by writing a book-This may be surprising, but it is highly recommended that you begin with short stories and articles. You have skills to hone and polish, and a quarter million clichés to get out of your system. Another thought is to start a blog 🙂

They are imitative-One of the most common traits of destined quitters is their attempts to imitate famous writers. They quickly grow discouraged and quit when they realize they can’t keep up.

Writing a novel that is publishable is hard work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are no shortcuts. If you won’t to be successful, you have to learn your craft and not give up.

-Jan R

 

Do You Wannabe?

Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Writing That Cover Letter

cover-letter-impressive-resumesI’m quickly approaching the point in the writing process, where I need to start looking at  submission requirements for the agents/publishers I would like to contact with a proposal.

Agents and publishers have different requirements. It’s very important that you find out what those requirements are and follow them to the letter. Failure to do so could land your proposal in the rejection pile without being reviewed. It doesn’t matter how great you think your novel is. They will never know.

The first step to most proposals is the cover letter.  It should be no longer than one page. Not one and a bit, and not one in an uncomfortably small font. You may have a lot to say, but at this point, remember to keep it concise. Just because your plot is complex, doesn’t mean your letter needs to be.

The main aim of your cover letter is to give the agent/publisher more details about your manuscript and you, the author. Things like

  • manuscript title
  • genre
  • word count
  • manuscript blurb
  • market placement
  • target audience
  • author background
  • contact information (don’t forget this one)

Remember to follow the submission guidelines and tailor your letter to the requirements specified. For example, some ask you to say how you heard about them, and whether you have sent your work to other agents.

In every case, it is very important to address your letter to someone, rather than to a generic ‘To whom it may concern.’ Consider your cover letter an introduction to you and your work.

Also keep in mind that your cover letter, is the first impression any agent/publisher will have of your writing abilities. Therefore it should be straightforward and concise. Treat your cover letter as a business letter-after all that is what it is.

Lots of information and great examples of winning cover letters on the internet. I would recommend that you read a few, or maybe a lot-especially if this is your first attempt 🙂

-Jan Rouse

Things to Keep in Mind When You’re Writing That Cover Letter

Writing A Novel-What Is Your Hook?

untitledHave you noticed some of the books you pick up, you can’t put down. I have stayed up until 3:00-4:00 in the morning finishing a book, because I had to know how it ended. I’ve  changed my plans for the day, because I couldn’t stop reading. That’s the kind of book I want to write.

There’s a writer I’ve followed on scribophile, who is way beyond most of the other aspiring authors on the site. My biggest frustration with her, is she doesn’t post her work fast enough, and I have to wait to see what happens next. She is great at building suspense and ending a chapter right before the climax. You have to read the next chapter to find out what happened. Or, she will dangle a little carrot in front of you and lead you by the nose. Pair this with charming characters, and you have a winner.

So, what tools are available to a writer trying to hold their reader hostage?

  • Surprise-Curiosity kills the cat and your reader. What on your first page is the reader not expecting to see? What is your hook?
  • Mystery-The thing about curiosity is that the reader doesn’t know what’s going on; what’s going to happen next. That’s why they have to keep reading.
  • Conflict-Your reader isn’t looking for a perfect world filled with love, joy, and peace. That may be your ultimate goal and resolution, but it had better be a little rocky along the way. What on your first page sets up conflict?
  • Charm-Your reader has to like your characters and be drawn into their world. Those characters are like family, and it matters what happens to them.
  • Resonance-The reader has to be able to relate to what’s going on. Your writing should evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.

When you read that next great novel, think about why you can’t put it down. What is the author doing to keep you hooked. Are they using conflict, mystery, or maybe throwing in a couple surprises to pique your interest?

Hope this got you thinking. Make your novel inescapable.

-Jan R

 

Writing A Novel-What Is Your Hook?