Thursday, April 30, 2009

I was right...

The other day during chat at Long Ridge, I was telling a friend about the NETWO conference. She asked something to the effect of what was the one thing that stood out from the conference, the most important thing I brought home with me. So I thought for a moment, I mean, I had such a great time the whole weekend.

The one thing, the most important thing from the whole weekend is that "great will rise to the top of the slush and get the attention it deserves."

I said it here and I'll say it again. Write a great story, polish it until it shines, do your homework and research where to submit, then submit widely and often.

Also, I want to point out the importance of attending writer's conferences. These are a great place to connect with other writers and make friends. No one understands what it means to be a writer except another writer.

Conferences are a great place to meet agents and editors. Even if you have nothing ready to pitch, you can still get to know them on a bit more personal level.

Not sure where or when a conference will be? Then check out Shaw Guides. You can search by state or month. Also, google writer's conferences and your state. For example, Texas Writer's Conferences and see what pops up. I can say with a fair amount of certainty you won't regret attending. Unless you go to bed early, miss out on the kitchen raid, cards, snackage and great conversation.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Conference Report

Home from the conference. I had such a great time too. I met some really nice writers and learned quite a bit. Today I'll share a few things from our character building workshop with Lori Wilde.

Character world view or how the character sees the world. This was really interesting and something I need to work on with my novel characters.

Start with your character's motto. It can be anything like, "better safe than sorry" or "just do it" or some such thing.

This also connects with the character's life metaphor. "Life is like a box of chocolates" or "life is what you make it" or something like "life is a roller coaster, adventure or battle."

These (motto and metaphor) are determined by events in that character's life. It takes some thought to figure these "defining moments" out so she gave us a general method to do so.

Think about your character from birth to 5 years old. What event happened that framed the world view?

Then, from ages 5-10, what event reinforced that world view?

Next, from 10-18, what event continued to entrench that viewpoint?

From 18-22, what event further supported that viewpoint?

Finally, what event in your character's recent past set that viewpoint in cement?

Here's an example.

Let's take Jim. He has a life metaphor that "Life is a dangerous thing." His character motto is "Always be on guard."

Now, why does he have these? Because when he was 4, his mother took him to the park where she was mugged and seriously injured. He was alone with her for an hour or so.

When he was 7, on the way to school, a car ran a red light and hit the car he was in, wrecking the car and the other driver died.

When he was 13, the school bus he and the football team were riding on was involved in an accident and several students were seriously injured.

Next, when he was 18, at graduation, he was crossing the stage to get his diploma when the bleachers collapsed.

Poor wonder he has the worldview he does. Now of course you want to make the things that happen fit your character, these are just off the top of my head and I'm still half asleep:-)

Another thing she discussed was misguided beliefs and how it's the author's job to challenge them. These beliefs are dis-empowering such as, "I'm a loser" or "I can't do anything right." For example, the movie Rocky. His misguided belief was that he was a loser and the whole movie challenged that view.

Now, some general stuff from the conference. We had a really nice workshop on the synopsis. Honestly, they aren't as bad as most people make them out to be. One person related them to book reports. The basic info and mostly boring. The agent doing the workshop commented that she didn't read the synopsis until after she read the pages and what she was really wanting to know was what happened next and how you wrapped up the story. She wasn't expecting to find your "voice" in the synopsis, just how the story turns out.

We also did this seriously cool "progressive" writing exercise for fun after the Friday night meet & greet. If you need a writing game for an event, let me know and I'll email you the details.

After the older folks went to bed (the conference building had attached dorms on either side, one for men, one for women, meeting room in the middle) about 7 of us raided the kitchen for ice and drinks then played cards, laughed and snacked until about midnight. It was so much fun.

Saturday was filled with workshops. I didn't pitch anything to either the Tor editor or the agent but one of the ladies I met and became friends with did and both of them want her full and the agent was talking about revisions and how soon she could get it done and career stuff. I expect an "I've got an agent" email any day now.

If you get the chance to attend any writer's conference, I encourage you to go. Even if you aren't ready to pitch, you'll learn lots, make friends and have a great time. Not only that, it's a great way to recharge your writing battery.

And, that's exactly what I'm about to go do!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I'm outta here....but just for the weekend.

I'm off to the North East Texas Writers Organization Conference. I'm so excited. Not going to be pitching anything, just chillaxin and having fun.

When I get back, I'll give you an indepth report.

Also, next week I'll be posting a review of J.A. Konrath's Bloody Mary.

Plus, my thoughts on my first month with Twitter.

Y'all have a great weekend. See you Monday!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Not So Wild Animals I Have Known by Jack L. Throp

No, this isn't a mystery, thriller or suspense but more than ever before, we need to support fellow writers.

This book will be a wonderful gift for any animal lover along with great stocking stuffers for Christmas. Not only that, it's the perfect book to encourage young readers. Get a copy for your kids, grandkids and one or two for your local library.

And while you are there, share a true animal story and you'll be entered to win one of three autographed copies.

I've posted my story, Raccoon Encounter so give it a read and say hi.

Here's the LINK!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Friday Link-a-paloosa

Happy Friday all! Here's some cool links I've been saving just for today.

First, a very cool article called Creating Characters That Jump Off The Page by Robert Gregory Brown. I love this.

Also his article How Not To Write On The Nose. He's got some really good ones so when you have a chance, browse his site.

For those of you who love a challenge, check out the Dynamic Dialogue Contest over at Reading Writers. They have a quarterly contest that's free to enter, with a nice prize. This one is going to be a serious challenge:-) (I sent in a story for their "mirror as a character" prompt. Winners will be announced May 5th so I'm eagerly waiting.)

Joe Moore from The Kill Zone posted a very, very cool link for Research Sites. He's got some great resources and if you aren't reading The Kill Zone, you should be.

And check out The Plot Whisperer. I haven't had a chance to look around completely but I plan to soon.

Don't forget the Pen To Press Retreat next May in New Orleans. This is going to be such fun...and LOTS of work. But I totally believe it'll be worth it. I've already applied, been accepted and I'm so excited about being able to attend.

Lastly, we need this now more than ever. I found this Jenny Crusie article called Rats With Islands a while back. I think you'll find it seriously interesting.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sticky Notes

It's not really my fault. Honest, I didn't start out as a sticky note person but when someone gives you a box filled with sticy note pads, you have to use them. So, over the past several years I've collected a stack of sticky notes. Most of them are notes about writing, passwords, websites or phone numbers.

Today as I was getting started, I decided to go through my notes and get rid of those I don't need. Some, I have no clue what they mean now so they got pondered and put back in the stack. Some, such as hubby's old cell phone number, got tossed.

Here's some that I kept.

Romance story idea involving a zoo field trip...
Idea about a really nice guy who reads poetry at libraries during the day and kills bald guys on the night of the full moon.>br> Several ideas for blog posts about writing.
Two different lists of words to avoid such as that, was, were, just, very, and felt...
Two recipes. Peanut Butter Pie & Sock It To Me Cake, both are yummy by the way.
The Italian phrase "Tutto E Possibile" which means Anything is Possible.
Numerous writing tips such as...
Scene = Goal, Confict & Disaster

Scene = sequence of action that occurs continously in one place, time & POV. 1)What do we wnat reader to take away from the scene? 2) What will give dramatic power to scene?

The question "Does the scene balance action with visual details & dialogue?" I must have been focusing on scenes for a while:-)
Several ways to handle the revision process such as starting with the story, then plot, then dialogue.

The definition of a story: "A story consists of a sequence of action that occur when a sympathec character encounters a complicating situation the he confronts and solves."

All that to say, take notes of things you think are important. Save them for pondering later. Today, I found the reminder I needed among my notes.

"Write the first draft from the heart. Write the second from the head." C.S. Forester You can make your own sticky notes here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rules for Getting Published

We all want to know the secret to getting published and over the last few years, I finally found it.


There is no magic key, secret handshake, or hidden formula for publishing success. But there are a few rules that will get you closer each time you apply them.

Rule #1 Write a great story. Write a story that captivates the reader, that makes her forget dinner until it burns and won't let go until the last page gets read at 3 a.m.

Rule #2 Polish your story. Revise and make it better. Find a writer's group or a couple readers who know the genre to help point out weak spots. This is also where "never stop learning your craft" comes into play.

Rule #3 Research thoroughly. Research your market, read sample issues. Study submission guidelines and follow them. Learn proper submission format and how to write query letters and a synopsis. Check out agent blogs and learn what they are looking for.

Rule #4 Submit widely and often. You can't just submit once. Sure, sometimes once is enough but more often than not, you are going to have to submit many times before finding the editor or agent who wants your work. That's just the reality of writing. There are a lot more writers out there submitting than spots available.

Rule #5 Never give up! If you give up, you most definitely won't succeed. Sure that rejection letter is going to hurt, so sulk for a bit then get back in the game.

Now, go start applying these rules and get published!


Confronting the dragons
Overcoming the obstacles
Understanding the risks
Really living
Always believing
Going the distance
Expecting the best

Courage is not the failure to recognize fear, it is the refusal to accepts it's offer.

Don't be a hostage to yesterday, be in command of today.

Don't let fear stop you, it only means you're facing great opportunities.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mystery Writers Wanted

Mystery writers of all craft levels and sub-genres are invited to join us at Mysteries in the Making. It's a new group dedicated to mystery writers with the goal of becoming the best writers we can while helping others become their best.

It's a private group so our rights are protected. To join, go to Zoetrope and become a member. Then click on Private Offices on the left side menu. You can either search the offices for Mysteries in the Making or use the search function. Then, just request an invite.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love & Hate

I love spring, most of the time. The grass turns green, trees leaf out, flowers bloom and all is wonderful. Except for the yellow haze of pollen that covers EVERYTHING, the stuffy head, watery eyes and sneezing. But after spring comes summer. I love summer. The warm sun, cold lemonade, swimming in the pool, just being lazy. Those days totally make up for all the annoyances of spring.

Writing is like that too. I love getting ideas and plotting them out, seeing what happens. I love creating characters, getting to know them and then putting them through their paces to see just what they can handle. I love how they handle those things and how sometimes they surprise me.

I hate writing too. I hate staring at the blank page, trying to get that first sentence right. I hate struggling with my inner editor over each little word. And I hate going back and reading something I thought was decent only to find it really is dreck.

But...after all the hard work of writing, comes the love again. I love it when the battles with the inner editor have made the story stronger, tighter and more focused. I love it when a reader loves my story and when I surprise 'em with an unexpected twist or turn. All these, make the hard work worth it. And, these things keep me writing.

So, tell me what you love/hate about writing.

Remember to become one of our first 25 followers and win either an autographed copy of The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson or The Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.

You can also get your daily writing or motivational quote by following me on Twitter. I promise not to tell you what I'm having for lunch, about the bluejay that crashed into my picture window this morning and startled me or how bad a hair day I'm having.

And, while you're at it...stop by Golden Visions Magazine and read my story Prey. If you like it, give it a vote shout out!:-)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Afraid by Jack Kilborn

The US government spends billions of dollars training soldiers to kill. Now they’re attempting an alternative approach. Instead of turning soldiers into killers, the military has trained five psychopathic murderers to be part of a classified Special Forces unit.

Codename: Red-Ops

They are the most fearsome weapon ever created, meant to be dropped behind enemy lines. Their goals: Isolate. Terrorize. Annihilate. Five Hannibal Lectors with Rambo training. But something horrible has happened...

Welcome to Safe Haven, Population 907

A tiny community of families, retirees, and artists, nestled between Big Lake and Little Lake MacDonald in the northwoods. One road in, one road out, thirty miles away from everything. A town so small and peaceful they don’t even have a full time police force.

Hell has come to Safe Haven.

On their way to a mission, the Red Ops helicopter has crashed just outside of town. The team is now roaming free in the wilderness, heading for the nearest lights. Heading there to do what they do best.

Soon the phone lines are cut, the cell phones jammed, and the road blocked. Safe Haven’s only chance for survival rests on the shoulders of an aging county Sheriff. And as the body count rises, he’s quickly realizing something terrifying—maybe the Red Ops haven’t come to his small town by accident...

Safe Haven, Wisconsin. Population 907. . . 906. . . 905. . .

Are you afraid of the dark? You should be. You will be.

I came late to finding J.A. Konrath's blog (A Newbies Guide to Publishing), but have grown to love it and when I found out he had a horror novel coming out soon, I just had to check it out. And after reading the excerpt, I was sold. I just had to read the book!

I didn't get in on the month long blog tour Joe/Jack carried out but I followed along and read the reviews, chuckled over interviews and became increasingly eager to put Afraid to the test.

You see, I'm hard to please when it comes to reading for pleasure. And as a kid, I used to read Stephen King under the covers with a flashlight so I'm darn hard to scare. Who of us can forget, Carrie, Cujo, Pet Sematary, Misery or even The Dark Half. Gosh, those bring back memories:-) But I have to say, move over Stephen, Jack Kilborn's come to town. And he's really creepy!

I love this book! I'd have read it in one sitting, which I haven't done in so long I can't remember but I'd been up since before daylight, driven about 8 hours that day and by 11, my brain just couldn't handle being awake.

The bad guys are really, really bad. The good guys are people I'd like to know and call friend. While I wasn't frightened by Afraid, I found myself thinking about different scenes during the next couple days. Especially the toe chewing off thing. That was just creepy...but creepy in a good way.

If you love horror, I highly recommend Afraid. It's fast moving, never boring and will be on my keeper shelf.

In fact, I'm going to be trying a couple of J.A.'s other books too. I think I've found a new favorite!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Writing Buddies

We all know writing is a solitary pursuit, at least most of the time. And that's great. But sometimes we NEED a writing buddy, someone who understands what we're going through as we travel the very bumpy road to publication. And, it seems to be getting rougher as we go along.

So, want a writing buddy? Need someone to hold you accountable for getting words on the page? Let me know. Need a place to hang your hat and put your feet up? Let me know that too. I've got a spot in mind.

Just let me know what genre you write and how experienced you are so I can pair you with the "right" buddy.

If you love to read or write mysteries, then I've got a special place for you. I've started a office called Mysteries in the Making over at Zoetrope, just for mysteries. It's private so we don't have to worry about losing rights of things posted there. You have to join Zoetrope and then "Zmail" me for an invite but it's easy to do. My hope is to create a place where we can help each other grow in our craft and become published if that's what a person is aiming for.

Also, remember become on of the first 25 Mysteries in the Making Blog followers and you'll be entered to win an autographed copy of The Tomb by F. Paul Wilson or The Writer's Digest Handbook of Magazine Article Writing.

I've also started Twittering and would encourage you to follow me there. I promise not to bore you with mindless twitters about what I had for lumch or how bad a hair day I'm having. In fact, you'll get a writing or inspirational/motivational quote. You can find me under jeanlauzier.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mysteries in the Making "Office"

Happy April and spring.

As a way to help other mystery writers get their stories written, critiqued and out for the rest of the world to read, I've started a private mystery group over at Zoetrope.

You have to join the Zoetrope website, which is easy. Then go to the menu on the left of the page and click on Private Offices. That will give you a list of the 200 most active "offices" on the site.

Scroll down and look for Mysteries in the Making. Or, use the search function. Then you can request an invite. I'll be more than happy to have you join us there.

Here's a couple benefits.

The group is private. We can post our work there, get critiques and comments and not have to worry about losing our rights.

It's a great place to fellowship and socialize with other mystery writers. So, let your friends know about it.

It'll be a great place to share mystery markets or mystery focused contests.

So, stop on over, join and take part. Introduce yourself and let us know what you like to write.