Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Great Rules of Writing

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

~William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Titles or A Rose by Any Other Name

Last week I took the plunge and queried a publisher for my romance novella. I'm still in the revision phase but they didn't demand it be complete, just to let them know if it was and include a synopsis.

Today, I received an email from the Senior Editor letting me know they had already published a work with the same title as mine and I needed to send her an alternative.

Okay...not a problem. Until I discovered my next choice was taken. Deep breath! I can come up with something appropriate. I spent some time with a thesaurus looking at alternative words and while I found a couple I liked, nothing that thrilled me or connected with the story. I made a note and might use them later.

Thankfully the plot bunnies were around and had an appropriate title that connects with the story and its theme. So, I sent it to the editor and made a note for myself.

Will see what happens now.

The question is, how attached to your title are you? Could you come up with another if needed?

And what about character names? I had to change a main character's last name in my mystery novel and still am not really happy with my choice. I keep trying out new names and hope something rings a bell. Sigh...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Well, actually Happy Memorial Day weekend since the "real" Memorial Day isn't until the 30th of this month.

Special thanks to all those who either serve or have served in the military. Hubby and I both were in the Air Force. I spent a little over 4 years and then served at hubby's side while he finished out his 20.

Hubby will be off for three days, we'll hang out around the house, sleep late, do some yard work and later throw some burgers on the grill. Yum!

And, I'll be working on romance novel. Got to get that taken care of.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Oh...bit of trivia. A group of turtles is called a bale. Yeap, that's right.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shoulder Vultures

That's right, you know, shoulder vultures. They sit on your shoulder and whisper how terrible that last sentence is or how no one in the entire world could ever want to read anything you could write.

And they show up at the most inconvenient times too. Like right before deadlines, as you are about to drop that submission in the mail or hit the send button.

These varmits can be a major thorn in the flesh for most writers at one time or the other. Especially those of us just starting out or getting more rejection than acceptance letters. And I'm not really sure we ever totally vanquish them. I've talked to writers with many publications credits and they tell me the shoulder vultures still gather as they write.

So how do we deal with these varmits? Here's a few of my favorite ideas.

* Realize self-doubt is normal and things aren't near as bad as we think.

* Get a second opinion from another writer you respect.

* Take a break from your piece for a couple days. This allows you to look at it with fresh eyes.

* Be positive. Fight those negative thoughts with positive ones.

Shoulder vultures are one of the many things writers have to deal with. However, we don't have to let them win.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Writing Contests

I'm not into writing contests. Mainly because they are so subjective and you never really know what the judge is looking for.

However, I've found one contest I love. It's over at Reading Writers and I want to urge all of you to check it out and enter.

Each quarter, a new prompt is posted along with guidelines and date to enter by.

This quarter it's a "Dynamic Dialogue" prompt. How cool is that! Be sure to read all the guidelines on the site but here is a glimpse to whet your appetite.
Write a complete story—not a scene—that consists of pure dialogue. No narrative whatsoever, not even a he said or she replied. If it isn't spoken, and within quotation marks, it can't be on the page.
Now, why I like this contest...

1. No entry fee.

2. Winner gets nice stuff, a cash prize, a book and a critique of their entry.

3. I can read previous winners and see what judge is looking for, her likes and dislikes.

4. Working on the prompts help me learn my craft while having fun, trying new things and genres.

5. Prompts vary from quarter to quarter and you can twist them to whatever genre you are writing.

6. They let you know that your submission was received. (I hate not knowing.)

Now, click on over, check it out and get writing.

Oh, in the last contest, there were 318 entries. They pick one winner and several Honoarable Mentions, this time ten of them.
I managed another Honorable Mention. I call it a "tie for second."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not-So-Wild Animals I Have Known by Jack Throp

I've always loved animal stories so when I received my copy of Not-So-Wild Animals I Have Known, it didn't take me long to get started reading.

I read stories of camels and cheetahs, wombats and zebras, Tasmanian devils and purse stealing vultures. It was easy to imagine sitting around the living room, Jack in the couch with his feet propped on the coffee table (shoes off, of course) listening to him tell about his days spent working with various zoos.

I'll be putting this one on my keeper shelf and recommend it for any animal lover. This book will make a really nice gift for kids and is the perfect stocking stuffer.

And while you're thinking animals, share your animal story and be entered to win a copy of Not-So-Wild Animals I Have Known. You can order your copy at Honey Locust Press.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Five

Here's some cool links I've come across lately. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

First, I wish I'd found Procrastinating Writer years ago. They have some really great articles and tips for dealing with procrastination.

I especially like this ---> 30 Days to a Better Writer

A friend and I are going to team up for the next 10 weeks and get our novels written. If you're interested in joining in the fun, let me know.:-)

Next, Sketch Your Novel in an Hour. This is something I need to do this weekend. Yes, I have most of a rough outline on paper but you never can tell what this might bring to light.

And, here's a list of Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See. Once you have them pointed out though, you learn to look for them. Great article.

Lastly, just have to share.

"Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators." - Olin Miller

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I've often heard that we should start at the beginning but sometimes I wonder just where the heck the beginning is. And I've often heard it said that writers start in the wrong place and they need to get rid of the first chapter or two. Supposedly, it's a novice writer thing. And I kind of think so.

About a month ago, I agreed to do a critique for a very novice writer. (I had lots of help when I was getting started so believe I should return the favor.) Her novel was to be a romantic suspense. It started with the main character waking up, laying in bed with a flashback to her youth. The chapter continued with the character getting up, working out, taking a shower, brushing her teeth then going to get hair done, nails done at a spa, lunch and some shopping. It went on like this for "4" chapters with an occasional info dump added in. All in first person too. Finally in the 5th chapter,(about 60 pages in) we get two sentences of a hint to the novel's story then we go back to more of the same as before. I quit reading shortly after. All of this info just took up space on the page. It didn't serve any function.

These days, a writer just can't start like this. The reader won't wait for the "good" stuff. We have to catch the reader right away, give them a reason to read on.

There's been a lot written on great starts, by smarter, more experienced writers than myself so I'll not even go there. I will recommend Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell though. He has a GREAT chapter on the beginnings with some excellent examples.

The thing to remember about beginnings is you have to begin somewhere. If you don't begin, you won't get anywhere. So, whether you decide to begin with a back story info dump or drop your reader in the middle of an action scene - start! If you want to start with the weather or with a conversation, great. Just start!

You don't have to have a great beginning right off the bat. You can perfect your beginning later.

So, do you struggle with beginnings? What's your favorite way to begin a story?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Honorable Mention or "Tie for Second"

Well, today was the big day. The winner of the latest Reading Writer prompt was to be announced.

Okay, maybe not so big but still, I'd been waiting for today for a couple weeks. I felt my piece had a good chance of winning but with contests, you never can tell just what the judge likes so I didn't hold my breath.

And while I didn't "win" I did get an Honorable Mention or as I like to call it, a "Tie for Second." There were 318 entries, 1 winner and 10 Honorable Mentions. So, all in all, not bad.

Congrats to all those who entered. It takes courage to put your work out there for judging.

Special congrats to those who "tied for second" and to the winner. His piece is very nice.

You can find the results here and the winner's story here.

There is plenty of time to enter their next prompt. You can find it here.