Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Editing and 7th graders

Today I'm speaking to a 7th grade English class about editing. It's going to be more question-answer than a real presentation. One of my authors, Jennifer Charron Ward, is working on her second book. During this second round of editing, she's been talking with her daughter's English class about publication, and Jennifer asked if I'd be interested in speaking to the class.

How could I pass that up?

What are your presentations like? I've only given writing workshops, no "book" presentations.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keep On Writing

Do you ever get an idea and it won't leave you alone when you're away from your writing implement (be it keyboard or pen/pencil)? That's a writer's joy because the words flow out almost seamlessly.

What about when you love your story idea, but the words won't flow? Does this happen to you? Would you consider it a semi-writer's block?

What if (oh no) you've fallen out of love with your story idea, but people (like your agent or an editor) are expecting you to finish it? Has that ever happened to you?

I've experienced two of the three above, and even sorta the last one - although it was with a manuscript that I'd already finished, but needing tweaking.

I've never thought of myself as fickle; but I guess it does happen. One day I love the idea I'm working on, then the next day, not so much.

My advice to myself is (especially if it's the last situation) - keep on writing. Isn't that what all the "pros" in the writing industry say to do? If we don't sit our tushies down and write, the story will never get finished.

If I find myself in either #2 or #3, I might create a new playlist, devise new characteristics for my characters, or change the setting. I try to let the words flow where ever they may go, and I don't allow my own "ideas" to get in the way.

What are your writing strategies when you're stuck?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Working and Writing from Home

Have I told you how hard it is to work and write from home?

So many of my friends are like, "Awesome! You work from home."

Yeah, not so much.

I'm a typical, Type-A workaholic. I have mellowed over the years, but still my initial inclination is to work, work, and then work some more. My employer loves that about me; my family not really. Working from home does have advantages:
  1. I can set my own hours.
  2. I can take a lunch with a friend at a moment's notice.
  3. I'm available to my son's almost whenever they need me.
  4. I don't have to worry about child-care if my sons are sick or off from school.
  5. I can work as much or as little as I want on any given day.
  6. I can work in my pjs or sweatpants if I want.
But there are also some disadvantages:
  1. My email is always on and I feel compelled to answer work emails even if it's after hours.
  2. There are no "after hours".
  3. My work is constantly on my desk or in view, 24/7.
  4. I can take a lunch with a friend at a moment's notice (sometimes it's hard to say no.)
  5. I can work as much or as little as I want on any given day.
I'm sure there are more for each list, but these are the first and foremost in my mind today.

Don't get me wrong; I love, love, love my job and the flexibility that it brings. I love being my own boss (essentially), but I do have to learn to say no to myself when it comes to work. I do try hard to take Fridays off, but most of the time I do end up working at least a half day.

When I write, I have to have designated "writing" days, and I don't usually write at my desk. I'm easily distracted by email especially, so I write (most of the time) on my netbook sitting in our big window in the living room. I am inspired by nature and by having it a glance above my screen keeps my juices flowing.

Do you work from home and write? What are your strategies for keeping on task and meeting deadlines, either work or writing?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Current Playlist - Updated

I'm the type of writer who needs some sort of sound distraction when I'm in front of the computer. When my kids were younger, just the sound of the TV or them playing was enough. As they've gotten older - and fighting and asking me constant questions - I still needed the sound distraction, but I didn't need the visual. Several years ago I started writing with my iPod earbuds jammed into my ears. The music provided the perfect distraction for writing and from their fighting antics.

My playlists change with each new project, and I usually have a mixture of old and new songs. I especially love this current playlist, but it can become a bit distracting at times; if I'm not totally in the story, I end up getting "involved" with the music (which means I'm up on my feet instead of sitting on my butt.)

Here's what I'm listening to as I write this new manuscript:

"Dirty Little Secret" - All American Rejects
"Hey, Soul Sister" - Train
"Hot N Cold" - Katy Perry
"Groove Is In the Heart" - Deee-Lite
"You and Me" Dave Matthews Band
"Move Along" - All American Rejects
"Fire Burning" - Sean Kingston
"I Kissed a Girl" - Katy Perry
"I Smell Winter" - The Housemartins
"Bad Influence" - Pink
"Use Somebody" - Kings of Leon
"Waking Up in Vegas" - Katy Perry
"Drop Down Dead" - The Housemartins
"One Step Beyond" - Madness
"I Gotta Feeling" - Black Eyed Peas
"Drop Me In the Middle" - Natasha Bedingfield
"The Sweet Escape" - Gwen Stefani
"The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death" - The Housemartins
"Fly" - Sugar Ray
"Wild Wild Life" - Talking Heads
"Boom Boom Pow" - The Black Eyed Peas
"Gonna Make You Sweat" - CC Music Factory
"Certain Things Are Likely" - KTP
"These Words" - Natasha Bedingfield
"Hey Ya!" - Outkast

You may think that there is no rhyme or reason to this list, but trust me - it works for this story. Amazingly so.

Do you write to music? Are the songs intentional picked, or do you use shuffle?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Writers and their Parties

When I think about writing, I do not think about parties. I think about how I sit at my computer/netbook ALONE and write. Maybe my kids are around, or even my husband. But, for the vast majority of my writing time, I'm alone. I belong to a couple online writing communities, but I must confess that I don't spend that much time participating. If I'm not writing my own stories, I'm editing/project managing the authors who publish with the company I work for here in Michigan.

When writers are done writing (or taking a break) and decide to party, look out! I've only attended a few conferences, and they were a blast. When the break-out sessions were done, look-out - those conference attendees were whooping it up at the bar well into the night.

I'm feeling like a need a party, and there's a really big one taking place at the end of July, down in Nashville, TN. It's the RWA 2010 National Conference. I'm not a member of RWA anymore, but that doesn't mean that I can't attend. I'd pay a higher fee; or I'd just join again. Many of the writers in my agency plan to attend, and it would be great to put faces to names.

But I'm still not sure.

Are you going?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Writing Basics #3 - Third Person POV

When writers come to me for edits, most of them are writing in the third person. This is probably the easiest, and most common, point of view used by writers. There are two types of third person pov: limited and omniscient. Most writers use limited, and this discussion will focus mainly on limited.

But for the sake of getting all of our terms defined, take a look at this very simple definition of each:

Omniscient third person pov: sees all and knows all; godlike.

Limited third person pov: is told from ONE character's pov; character perspective can change from scene to scene or chapter to chapter; reader only knows what the pov character sees, hears, and thinks.

Third person pov uses "he, she, it" when referring to the point of view character. Observations only come from the point of view character, including visual, auditory, and mental observations. Like first person, the reader only knows what the third person pov character knows, sees, and hears.

Here's an example of limited third person from my women's fiction manuscript, A Life Unraveled:

"Excuse me? Wha-what did you say? Who died?"

Katie Wilcox wanted to argue with the man. And he wasn't even her husband.

With the phone receiver in one hand and the still processing pregnancy test in the other, Katie thought she would explode with impatience.

"That there's been a death in your family," the unfamiliar voice repeated.

Katie's pacing halted. She'd heard the man correctly.

Above, we know that Katie is our pov character. Everything revolves around what she says, hears, and thinks.We don't know the thoughts or visuals of the caller.

The difference between first and third person pov is that third person point of view can allow several characters to be the point of view character within a chapter as along as the scene changes. You will see highly successful writers use this pov and change mid-paragraph the pov character. Pick up any Nora Roberts book and read the first two chapters. Inevitably the reader will be introduced to the female and male main characters, and the reader will be put into both of their pov's, sometimes within the same paragraph or scene. Newbie writers should not attempt to do this. I truly believe that highly successful writers can get away with writing stunts like that because their publishers/editors know they will sell solely based on their name and not their writing. This is in no way bashing Nora Roberts's writing. I love her, but I know enough that I cannot use the same writing techniques that she uses.

During a writing workshop, the instructor talked about writing in deep pov. That will be the topic of a future post.

Do you write in third person? Do you like to read books written in third person? What's your preference?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm over here today...

I a guest blogger today at Mysteries and Margaritas. I'm talking about writing in different genres. Please stop by and leave a comment.