Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Does the Editor Mean When She Says That?

This is one of the things I post so I'll know where to go back and find it later when I get my manuscript finished and start submitting it to editors (OK. I will try that route, I'm sure.)

This great article over at Writer's Relief is extremely informative.  What does it mean when an editor tells you, "Your MS is voicey and organic but switches POV indiscriminately"?

Find out here

Now I know that I want my manuscript to have legs, be organic, and to be tight. I don't want it to contain dead metaphors or to be quiet or stale. 

Besides these literary vocabulary gems, here's a link to more basic vocabulary and terms for the publishing industry, also on Writer's Relief:

Now I can find these articles when I need them.  Whew!  Wouldn't want to misplace them.

Thinking like an editor

(Trying to get my mind off my son wrecking my car last night, and think about my writing career instead) 
I'm not even positive that I want to work with an agent.  The idea of producing my own book and marketing it doesn't scare me. It excites me.  All those tasks that many writers dread are my cup of tea.  Complex formatting in Word?  I've taught that stuff for years.  HTML5?  I've played around with it, and learning it's on my to do list.  Creating a webpage?  Blogging? Twitter? Facebook?  Creating a YouTube trailer?  Bring 'em on!  

But...for this exercise, I am going to examine why an editor would be interested in me.  I would like to see my book(s) in print, on paper, the way I like to read them, and, of course, I think the one I'm working on right now would make an awesome movie....

Chapter Three of  Christina Katz'   book, 
Get Known Before The Book Deal is 'Swap Shoes.'  It asks you to look at yourself like an editor or an agent.  Are you causing enough of a stir to make them want to take a chance on you? Partially, that's where previous expertise comes in.  Can you use what you already know to get better known in any community? 

Well, hummm.  I did recently get asked to present at a conference of Tech Teachers here in Oklahoma. I spoke about using Internet resources in the classroom.  I actually think that when I've finished writing my book, I'll have so much fun promoting it that editors and agents will see that I'm a keeper, but what can I do before I finish my book?  I should probably go ahead and create my author website.  I haven't done that yet.  Maybe I should blog more about wooden boats, one of the subjects in my book.  Maybe I'll blog about each of the boats in the book. They are characters, in a very real sense. That's a start, at least. 

Christina says, " It order for agents to recognize your talent, you have to make some waves."  I'm not making many waves right now.  I'm kind of letting down my guard in the technical writing/training world to concentrate on my writing.  Maybe I'm doing the wrong thing. Maybe I should create some online classes for the techniques I'm learning.  And post them on my website.  Now that's worth giving some thought to.  Hmmm.

Christina also says that agents think of us writers as 'talent.'  They want to work with someone who will produce a string of books.

So, according to this book, here's what I need to do:

  • Get followers for this blog. (Please follow me.)
  • I follow quite a few blogs, but I usually don't comment in them.  I think I need to, and use that excuse to point to my own blog.  I'll try to do more of that, for a start.  But really, Please follow me!

  • Get something, anything published somewhere. Then get something else published.
  • I think I need to look around at local publications.  Maybe I should try to write something about Oklahoma history and culture (backstory of my book) for the local publication, "My Land."  I Love that paper and would be honored to be published there.  It's a start.

  • Get to know the media.  Figure out how to get them to know you
  • .
  • This one's going to be tough.  I need to work on local media first.  Actually, I've been on the front page of local papers before. I've been interviewed (because I used Angie's list?!?) If I accidentally landed in the news all those times, how can I do it deliberately?  Need to think on this one some more, and come up with a plan.

  • Get interviewed for something (something good)
  • I believe this one goes with the one above.

  • Become a quoted expert in some field. 
  • Maybe this one harks back to my idea of putting tutorials online.
OK.  That's the list.  Every one of these steps will take time and effort, and none will get done before the party I'm giving on the 14th.  That's a biggy.  But I will ponder the list and try to flesh it out more, then be ready to blast off after the 14th.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Is Being a Geek Goddess a Platform?

Tis the day before Christmas Eve, and I'm reading chapter Two of Christine Katz' book, 'Get Known Before the Book Deal, which asks you to examine what skills you already have that you can use to market yourself and cultivate a readership.  She asks if you have a following, network, or fan base for, essentially anything.

So, I am going to try to answer than question about myself.  Who am I?

I have a combination of technical and creative skills that set me apart from the crowd. When I was working toward my Ph.D. in technical writing, the department sent me out on many intern jobs because so many of them required more technical skills than any other student had.  I am an early adopter of technology and push the limits of what software can do.  I have strong skills in web design, Microsoft Office products, online documentation and the software used to create online courses for education and business.  I do these things very well.

Example of my online class skills

I am also known as a very good photographer, and I am skilled in Photoshop.  Actually, my first love, before writing, was art, and I still love creating all kinds of art today, from drawing and painting to creating attractive and functional Visio diagrams and PowerPoint slides.  I also really enjoy working with video.  My stepsons call me the YouTube Queen.

Example of my photography
Example of my video expertise 

I am a proven teacher...of technical and business writing.  I was recently asked to give a presentation of using the Internet in the classroom to a group of Oklahoma technical teachers.  I have created online coursework for several companies.

Some other areas of knowledge for me are, Tulsa and Oklahoma history, wooden boats, and what it was like to grow up a farm and work on a ranch. As far as book knowledge, I often read three books at a time, and now I always have a book in my pocket, on my iphone, as well as one by my bed and often one in my purse. I love history and fantasy, and ancient Celtic culture, where these two areas merge.  

So, where do these strengths and areas of expertise lead me as a writer?

I really don't know.  Hopefully, Christina's book will help me discover that.

Gotta go shop now!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Platform Time!

When I attended my first writers' meeting, I first heard the term, "platform."  At the last writers' meeting I attended (a different group, but more published), I heard a rant about writing (important) vs. platform (not so much).  But...I think that, with my particular skill set, platform building will be one of my strengths, and that I'll really enjoy it!  To start out, I bought, and just received, 'Get Known before the Book Deal' by Christina Katz.  

I was hoping I'd really read the book, but actually, I'm having a hard time putting it down. That says something, as I'm in the middle of 'A Dance of Dragons.'  The first chapter (and maybe all of it) is kind of in the form of a workbook.  I'm taking it seriously.  It's a little outdated. Christina mentions that the Kindle is getting ready to come out and wonders how that will change the industry.  I think, however, that the basics of platform building will be the same, and that, in today's writing/publishing world, it's probably even more important that it was when the book was written.

Her basic thesis is that the writer must figure out who they are, and what they can offer their readers and their editors to make themselves a long-term success.  This book is about the business of writing, not the creative process.  I love the writing, but am also obsessed with the business side, so . . .  here goes!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Week Until Christmas: Ramblings of a Writer

Rush. Rush Rush. So much to do. You know the feeling, don't you?  

Move the wrapping paper upstairs where people can shut the door and wrap in privacy.  My stepsons expect flocking and glitter, so wrapping makes quite a mess.  My hubby says, "I've never noticed that," but I did. The first time I made really fancy packages for them and they ohhed and ahhed. and now they expect it. 

Opps!  The new Persian Rug (my & hubby's mutual Christmas present) comes today.  What haven't we bought yet, and when, except Christmas Eve, will we buy anything that isn't bought by the end of today?  

And then there's the graduation party in January. Electricians coming Monday to restore lights in front that last winter's ice storm took out (finally getting that done) and we want to try to get a new runner on the stairs by the 14th of January. HELP! 

Son's home from college.  He says that he never even really saw any Christmas lights until he got back to Tulsa,  Out in Connecticut, he's only on campus and the surrounding urban area...not around any homes.  And the only kind-of-Christmas tree he saw on campus was nick-named "The Hanukkah Bush."  We got a good giggle out of that, but he's been raised around Christmas lights, and I think he's glad to be home during this season.

Just infused money into his account so he can buy a few Christmas presents, and gas for my car, etc.

And all the time, my book and my characters are living their own lives in some compartment of my brain.  Does Kain have enough personality?  I want to get back in and fix chapter two. I transplanted a scene from later in the book back into Cap. 2 so there'll be more conflict.  And just where is his mother from? I was thinking Viet Nam...She's somewhat exotic.  His dad met her in the war, on the rebound from Hadley's mom dumping him for the rich dude. And she comes from somewhere where people are very entrepreneurial, which they are around Asia, because she helps Kain's dad invest the money they get for their land and become quite wealthy.  Just haven't figured out quite where....  Gotta run!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And the Party Goes On and On and On

We battled this week and won!  My stepson, Ben, knows EVERYONE, and wanted to invite them all to the graduation party we're giving him.  Finally we convinced him to give another party (that we're NOT paying for) for his Lake Rat friends and let ours be for people he knows from school and business.  His dad had to paint him a picture of some of the uncouth characters he calls friends drinking with potential employers.  For a very smart kid, it took picture drawing to really make him see sense, but now I think we have the invitation list down to a group that might fit into our house.

The invitations are printed and now is the time for stamping and addressing (do I still know how to do mail merge for the labels?) and envelope stuffing. 

And keeping on refining the Pandora playlist.  I'm wondering if I need to start a second one in case this one gets totally off track, which it sometimes does. 

And I am so upset because I can't find a Audrey Hepburn cardboard cutout (from Breakfast at Tiffany's) to order. I guess Sinatra will have to do.

Think I'll survive?

Great Advice: Ways to Build Your Platform

This is one of those articles I choose to put out here mainly because when I have time, I plan to go back and read every word and use it to promote my own career.  Unfortunately, here at Christmas time, with my son getting back from college in a few days, a graduation and a party looming and guests expected, I don't have time to do all the things that Christina Katz recommends in her article in Writers Digest: 


Here are her main points, but you have to read the article to get into the specifics of how to do these things:

  • Listen & Learn
  • Create Context

  • Contribute Content

  • Cultivate Community

  • Be Authentic

  • Synergize Connections

  • Produce Yourself

  • Publicize Yourself

  • Pay it Forward

  • Strut your Stuff

Oh, and I just ordered her book for myself for Christmas:

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    A Blog That Changed My Writing! Thank You!

    How to Hook a Reader and NEVER Let Go

    I saw a link to this blog post on Twitter this morning.  When I had a few minutes, I started reading it, and what Kristen Lamb said there blew my socks off.  Although I've been trying to include conflict in my first romance novel, I'd never broken down the conflict chapter by chapter before. 

    I had tried to write my story in one sentence before. Here's what I had:
    Problems presented by an old boat inherited from her mother challenge the girl's views of both her mother’s and her choices in life and love.
    But Kristin said that that one sentence must include an active goal, stakes and conflict so I re-wrote it:
    As Hadley rushes to sell the boat inherited from her deceased mother so she can leave the bitter memories of her childhood behind, she hires the perfect man for the job, but begins to suspect that he knows dangerous secrets about her mother’s life and death
    Then Kristin said to figure answer several questions about every scene.  OK. (I'm thinking chapters here)

    Chapter One:

    Scene Problem: Hadley must get her mind around the problem of selling her boat
    Conflict Lock: She and Kain actually have the same goal, but he is there to help her under false pretense, and is obviously keeping secrets and is not who he seems.  (Is that good enough--need to think about that)
    Stakes:  She doesn’t realize that she’s being played.
    Antagonist: I think it's Kain here.  We don't know why he dislikes her and wants her to leave quickly. We know why she wants to--she's open about that.

    Answering these questions makes me wonder if my conflict is strong enough in Chapter One. I'll have to think about it.

    Chapter Two really threw me for a loop. It's a lot of setting the scene and backstory.  Opps!

    Scene Problem: Hadley has time to reflect on why this place is a problem for her and why she has to get out of here asap.  (need more conflict here!)
    Conflict Lock: ?
    Stakes:  ?
    Antagonist:  ?

     Thank you so much, Kristin.  I read about authors who, after several books, realize their book had no conflict.  You may have saved me that agony. 

    I am shamlessly mentioning her best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’sGuide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, because I SO want to win s free critique from me on the first 15 pages of my novel from Krisin...after a make a few change...

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    I've been a bad, bad girl

    Yes, I haven't been writing here much.  Just like everyone else, my life is crazy this time of year.  My hubby just changed jobs (and now doesn't have to commute to another city), and moved all of his stuff home from a tiny apartment where he stayed during the week. I have had to make room in closets for his stuff, and for me, that task is momentous! I mean, I need a closet for nightware (although I don't sleep in any of it) and one for outdoor coats and jackets, one for blazers and sweaters and the like, one for pants, one for skirts, and one for boots. I live in an eighty-year old house, and closets are small and few, so you can imagine what I've been going through.
    My word count is actually lower because I recently  cut some parts out of my manuscript pretty radically. I really like my old couple characters, whom I'm writing about now.  And their house(s).  I'm still worried, though, and trying to determine if my book really works as a romance.  It's different than the romance books I have been reading as research.  I don't think my characters 'think' at each other as much as in most of those books.

    I like that, but will readers?  Can't wait for my February RWI meeting (Jan's meeting is the day of the I'm giving for my stepson's graduation from law school so I can't go), when I intend to submit some chapters for critique.  I love meeting all these women who are as passionate about books as I am.

    I'm doing my best to decorate my house more beautifully than ever (Just had a long comparison of techniques with the girl who cuts my hair this morning). Right now, my house a bit of a mess, with Christmas decorations that haven't found their home yet laying around, but by the end of this week, it will look very good...I hope.  

    And my son is coming home from college in five days.  Yay! I just realized that now I can count down in days, not weeks!!

    Well, how's your Holiday going?  

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    A Party from a Romance Novel

    So . . . once I thought the party I'm giving in January was the party in my book.  Hummm. 

    I love this Radko Ducky ornament.
    We stayed in a hotel on Cape

    Cod this summer that had rubber duckies
    in the pool . . . But it's too much fun

    to go into Margos in Utica Square with
    hubby to pick out this year's ornament

    That party is in the Summer at the Lake, so . . . maybe this party will be in another book. In fact, it already is! The book I'm reading.  It's an English book about a party thrown around the theme of Hollywood's Golden Era, all Vintage and stuff. 

    Well, mine is kind of like that.

    We have a very vintage tree.  I can only go to garage sales when I can sneak them around my hubby, but one of the things I always look for is vintage Christmas decorations.  Then I go to Margos and get a Christopher Radko every year, and shop at Tuesday Morning to find yet more sparkly, opulent (almost as good a word as succulent) ornaments. Oh, and I forgot the after Christmas ornament sales at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware and Dillards. 

    When my hubby asked what the theme of the party would be, I said "sprarkly and glittery."  We will have plenty of Champagne and clinking glasses.  I expect everyone to dress elegant.  We'd thought about having this party at Tulsa's best dinner club, but decided we want to show off our house (and our new art), but it will still be elegant . ..  I hope . . . If I can pull it off the way I want to. . .

    I've been working on a playlist on Pandora for months for the party. Here's a link to it:!/stations/play/591281181343162435

    And meantime, my writing . . .  uh . . ..  I worked on starting to put my Christmas village up on top of my kitchen cabinets last night, but today the boss is gone, so while the cat's away, this little mouse will write!

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    About All Those Wine Glasses . . . And Corks . . .

    What do I need to do first to get ready for this party?  Well, first I have to get ready for the maids THIS WEEK!  First, I'm going to put my Christmas village on top of my kitchen cabinets, but I have champagne glasses there.  In fact, I have wine glasses everywhere. What does that say about me?  Oh dear . . . I think it means I like to entertain, don't you?

    (Oh before I forget--read the coolest tip--to start fires--chimineas in summer and fireplaces in winter--all very romantic--fill a jar with a lid with rubbing alchol and put wine corks in it.  Ready to light a fire? Throw in a wine cork.  But keep that jar away from heat and fire, please)

    Back to wine glasses and what to do with them. I think I need a cabinet just for wine glasses. Has anyone ever seen anything like that? I can't put them underneath my cabinets in the kitchen. I have lights there. I already have a glass rack on my Tiki bar (yes--I have a tiki bar), but it's full.

    I've been looking out on Amazon and cannot find something to buy to help solve my wine glass problem.  Does anyone have an idea for me?  And if you do, maybe you could also help me solve my clothing problem (I should live in a closet) and my shoe problem . . . want a dog?

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    OK. I've started.

    Anyway,  My husband is assigned to have new outside lighting installed.  I just took all the Champagne glasses that are only used during the holiday season down from the top of my kitchen cabinet.  Yuck. They are dirty.  I'm cleaning the junk out of our old German armoire in the dining room and putting Champagne and wine glasses there.

    My husband asked me what the theme of the party should be. "Sparkly!" I answered. "Glittery.  People in beautiful clothes wearing diamonds and jewels.  Drinking Champagne."  

    "I like the Champagne part." He smiled at me.  

    I've been working on a Pandora playlist for a few months.  I seeded it with Sinatra (yes, my 30-year old stepson likes to sit in his old wooden Chris Craft at the lake and listen to Sinatra. It also has lots of Dean Martian.  The father of hero in the book I'm writing is modeled after Dean Martian-her mother after Natalie Wood.

    On the top of the cabinet, I'm going to set up my Christmas village.

    This should be a novel . . .

    But I can't write it right now.  I'm trying to finish my first novel, and it's going well, but I have a lot of work yet to do on it.  

    And now . . .  

    The challenge.  Two months from today, I'll have a giant party in my house.  It's a graduation party. My stepson is graduating from Law School.  We'll have all kinds of guests from his fellow law students, to his co-workers from the oil company where he works, to his rag-a-tag party friends that he hangs out with at the lake to his fun and quirky friends from high school. Also, my son who is a freshman in high school in Connecticut will be there, and possibly some of his friends who are in schools scattered around the northeast.  And on our side, who knows, because my husband's and my life are in flux right now.

    My Living Room and Tree in 2008

    My husband turned in his resignation at a job he hated on the day he received a retention bonus for staying there five years longer than he planned or wanted to.  And the jobs he's looking at now could be here in Tulsa, in Houston, or, possibly in Pittsburgh PA.

    So, while I'm decorating and hiring wait staff and planning catering, my husband may be living somewhere far away and our house may be for sale.  Or maybe not.

    And my job?  I've worked there almost four years, but my company has been acquired by a larger firm. I think I'll probably have a job there until maybe next summer, but who really knows. I've been there before. I know that everything is on the table.

    I have three crazy dogs who do their best to destroy our historical home as fast as I try to fix it up.  We need to get some outside lights installed and some concrete poured before then.  

    But you know what, I've been looking forward to this party for years. I love to show off my home.  We have a new John Lennon print and Cuban painting to show off.  

    This two months should be a novel, but instead I'm going to blog the experience.  Hold on. It's going to be a wild ride!

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Who's Sexier? Building My Leading Male Character

    His name is Kain.

    His father is 1/2 American Indian and 1/2 Russian.  His father met his mother in Vietnam.  That's his heritage.

    He grew up in Oklahoma and is an artist and a classic wooden boat racer, comfortable in the out-of-doors, comfortable with himself.  He lives in a beautiful and spacious log cabin on the shores of Grand Lake.  He is a golden god. 

    Which of these actors should I model him after?

    Daniel Henney

    Arjun Rampal

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Writing Tips from George Orwell

    I love George Orwell. I especially love "1984," but you may be more familiar with "Animal Farm." Anyway you look at it, he was a great writer.  He had strong political views, but also strong views about good writing, so I was thrilled to come across this article, posted on the Gotham Writer's Workshop.

    George Orwell: 6 Questions/6 Rules

    With every sentence, Orwell wrote, he asked himself these questions:

    1. What am I trying to say?
    2. What words will express it?
    3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
    4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Give Your Chracters Horoscope Signs?

    I think it would be fun to give my characters horoscope signs, then when I write about a certain day, I'll go out and see who's feeling bitchy, and

    My main character is either a Gemini, a Sagittarius, or an Aquarius like me. Maybe I should stick to Aquarius, since I understand what it's like to live as one.

    So my horoscope today would be

    "You are impulsively affectionate and flirtatious at this time, and you feel quite restless if you are in a stable, predictable relationship that offers little excitement. You may be highly attracted to someone new, simply because of the novelty and possibilities for adventure. Also, your friends or love partner may behave in unexpected ways. Flexibility and open-mindedness in your relationships is called for now."

    So now I need to figure out what Kain is, and my other characters, and all kinds of interesting interactions might pop up.  

    I think I' going to try this technique in the book I'm working on now.  First to figure out what horoscope everyone is.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Dot Dot Dot

    Yes, I'm an ex-English teacher. I'll admit it. I'm a grammar geek, and a technical writing. Please don't hate me.  I even completed all the coursework (but not the dissertation) for a Ph.D in Rhetoric. Oh yes, I did.

    But now that I'm trying to write fiction, I'm learning gobs from real writers. I don't have a clue about their educations.  They are writers, living the writing life, selling books that other people pay to read. I am the student here. Looking at my current manuscript recently, I saw many, many uses of ellipses (defined on Wikipedia as "Ellipsis is the narrative device of omitting a portion of the sequence of events, allowing the reader to fill in the narrative gaps.")  I wondered if I was creating a fiction faux pas,

    The "dot dot dot' questions always takes me back to one of my favorite movies (again .. .sorry): Mama Mia

    It's the diary she kept
    the year she was pregnant with me.
    'July 17th. What a night!'
    I don't know if I want to hear this!
    - I do!
    'Sam rowed me over to the little island.'
    That's here. That's Kalokairi.
    'We danced on the beach,
    and we kissed on the beach,
    'and dot, dot, dot.'

    So I posted on my Aspiring Writers group on Facebook:

    OK, it's time for the "dot dot dot" question (. . . ) I use them a lot when charaters aren't really finishing their sentences, and hesitating, and to simulate what real dialog sounds like. Do I need to take them all out?
    "Oh, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I asked . . . " murmured Connie, but her eyes were bright with curiosity.

    I found that I'm not the only "Aspiring Writer" struggling with this concept:

      • Writer One I use them, too. I do think there are times when they are useful.
        Wednesday at 5:03pm ·  ·  1 person

      • Writer Two Me too.
        Wednesday at 5:33pm ·  ·  1 person

      • Writer Three  People really talk like that. I think it makes it a bit better to read than 'She paused ' every time.
        Wednesday at 7:13pm ·  ·  2 people
      • Writer Four Ellipses are for when dialogue trails off ("I was going to tell you, but..." She shrugged.) Em dashes are for when dialogue is cut off abruptly ("I was going to tell you, but--" She walked smack dab into the wall). Whichever you use, it's like anything--too much can be distracting. :-)
        Wednesday at 7:36pm ·  ·  6 people
      • Writer Five ahhhhh i needed that though... :) i now know the difference
        14 hours ago · 
      • Mystic Wyngarden A former English teacher (Me) learns the basics of writing narrative from real writers. HA!