It’s Not All Hearts & Flowers – History Sucks Edition

First off, happy, happy Valentine’s day!

Now let’s quit the mushy stuff and focus on writing.

How does what happened yesterday affect your story?

 

I’ll give you two examples to consider.

Example #1 –

You based a story in Southern California in 1979 with a teen girl as your protagonist. A coming of age story. Something light and filled with girlish dreams and meandering around the sunny beaches.

Sounds like a nice tale, right?

Now through the lens of history. What was happening at that time and place?

Well, a team of serial killers were trolling for young teen girls in the Southern California area.

Therefore, the actions and reaction of the protagonist might be different. Maybe she’s less open to strangers. Maybe her parents aren’t as free with her. Maybe she’s not allowed at certain places.

 

Example #2 –

Not his example actually happened to me. I wrote a book based on my protagonist looking remarkably like Heath Ledger, who was alive and well at the time.

A week after I finished the book, Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose.

Both his death and how he died impacted my novel. People would have assumptions about my character. Or the time and place of the novel. And an emotional response to the tragic ending of Heath Ledger.

 

My advice when writing is two-fold.

First, keep your eyes on current events and climate. Do your research, even if you don’t think it will matter in the long run. Better to know than to be sorry about a factual error.

And secondly, understand that every reader comes into your book with a e=wealth of knowledge, experiences, and views. You aren’t going to make everyone happy. But seeing as your job is to keep the reader entertained, you should consider who said reader just might be and the events that impact your narration.

 

Has something like this happened to you? Have you used an icon, or a place, and then learned information that changed the perspective of your story?

Going Deeper for 2017

Welcome, 2017! So glad to see you. This year promises to be the best writing yet.

In that vein, I’d like to discuss a problem I’ve been having and hopefully you’ll have advice. Because, that’s what writer’s groups like RMFW are all about. Asking questions of your tribe. And mocking them when they give you bad advice…

So tribe, here’s my dilemma. I’ve been working on a cozy mystery. I sent it to my agent to read, and she suggested we make it more of a general mystery instead of a cozy. Her suggestion for doing so is, to go deeper.

Now that sounds easy enough.

Blinking at the blank page…

What the heck does go deeper even mean? I understand it in the general sense. But how do I make it happen? Does anyone have ideas or tools they use to create more depth and emotion?

So far, I’ve added some additional backstory and description of surroundings. Gotten more graphic in terms of the murder itself.

Most of that advice came from the internet, so you know it’s true.

What say you? How do you make your stories more complex? I promise not to laugh and point.

 

Writerly Resolutions for 2017 – ADD YOURS

Normally I am not one to partake of new year resolutions. Mostly cuz I hate to fail at them.

That losing 10 pounds one has really added up since my first resolution twenty years ago...But let's not focus on my jiggly thighs. Of course, now you can't get that visual out of your head (you're welcome!)

I do like one kind of resolution though - WRITERLY ONES. 

So as much as 2016 sucked for some people, and brought joy for others, I'm glad to see 2017. It holds promise of words, words, and more words. Book births. Some book deaths, usually termed, OUT OF PRINT. Also the idea of ideas. The realities of agents, editors, publishers, marketing, promo. Wins. Losses. Queries. Decisions. Questions. And RMFW!

And best of all reading a mass of great books by RMFW writers.

With resolutions in mind, here are a few of my writerly resolutions for 2017:

I vow to finish more than 3 manuscripts this year. Mind you, probably not good ones, but still...

I also promise to, and please hold me to this, be more social and active in my community, both writerly and other.

And finally, I will make a point to meet RMFW writers, find out who they are and what writing brings to them.

What about you?

If you could take a moment to add your resolution to the comments, we'd love to read them. 

 

On the first day of NaNoWriMo, my pen gave to me…

Not a dang word.

Stupid writing.

Disclaimed: I didn’t do NaNoWriMo. In fact, I haven’t done it in years. While in the past I’ve lied to myself, saying I would write every day in November, hitting 50k with the greatest of ease, I didn't even bother this year.

Hi, I’m Julie, a failed NaNoWriMo participant.

I have never, since my first try in 2007, hit the 50k mark. The most I ever did was 30k. Odd, since my latest project, a writer for hire deal for a film studio, came in around 50k and I completed it in a few weeks. So why can’t I win in November?

I’ve blamed it on the time of year. Like I only write in certain months, November just isn’t one of them…A crap excuse. What else? I have too much going on to write that much in a month…Considering I had 5 days off last week from my day job, that excuse doesn’t hold any turkey. Writing is hard, I whine. Again, not so much when I’m not kicking and screaming like a big baby. I sprained my index finger and since I type like two-year-old…

You see my point? I have a million excuses as to why I don't write. We all do. If I could only add this energy to writing, I’d have a book out every week.

And yet, I’ll continue to have reasons why I can’t succeed. It’s easier to never try than to fail. But all my time doing NaNoWriMo, that’s my greatest takeaway, it’s okay to fail. This is what I do because I love to do it. If it becomes a forced chore, like hitting 50k in November, I might reconsider.

How about you? Did you NaNo? Did you hit your word count? Have you failed at a project before? And finally, what’s your best/lamest excuse for not writing? Give 'em to me so I can use them next time I fumble with my own BS.

Happy Holidays! I'll see you again next year (unless I get hit by a bus or sprain my finger...or if I....).

Top Things That Scare the Words Out of Writers

BooHappy Halloween or Oct 31st, depending on your preference for the spooky. In honor, I've created a list of the things that go bump in the night and often the day for my writer friends. Feel free to add your own in the comments:

  1. There is less than 20 hours until NaNoWriMo starts
  2. Editors who change deadlines from Jan 2 to Nov 1 (yes, this is my life)
  3. The editorial letter (which always seems like the longest email in the history of emails)
  4. Agents. In general.
  5. Non-compete clause in a contract
  6. Lifetime rights
  7. PW No Star Reviews
  8. Amazon's rating system. Who thought up the cruel 1-5 star ratings? Sadists, that's who.
  9. Roving Goodreads reviewers
  10. Typing THE END
  11. Typing the first word in a new work. Mine is usually a swear one.
  12. Failing
  13. Succeeding
  14. Pitching in an elevator, that then get's stuck between floors after the agent/editor says the idea sucks.
  15. Query letters
  16. Reader expectations
  17. Having 40k done on Nov 30
  18. Paying for college tuition for kids off what we make as writers

BOO! Your turn. What scares you?

Current Climate in Publishing: The Sky Didn’t Fall, So Now What?

After the recent Colorado Gold Conference, I found myself wondering about indie/self-publishing and traditional happy-b-day-picpublishing. When I joined my first Gold Conference back in 2008, I/S publishing was the DEVIL. No, really, like the actual end of the world four to five horsemen. (I first typed horsemint, which is, according to word, any various coarse mints. Thought you might enjoy my overeagerness about just how bad it once was to I/S publish, that or my fat fingered typing ability).

This past conference, the vibe was MUCH different, and in fact, most of the I/S pub workshops were filled (I should know, our Rejection Panel went up against Nathan Lowell’s Amazon workshop Saturday morning. Thank you to the five people who joined us). Also, for the first time, iPAL the independently published version of PAL, was awarded a Writer of the Year (Lisa Manifold, who deserved it greatly for a) successfully writing and marketing great books, but more so b) being a leader in our community).

So my question to you, dear readers, and for once, comment dang it!, how do you feel about publishing these days? When you think of your current WIP, is it slated for traditional route or a more indie one? Have you come to the dark or maybe light side (depending on who you ask) of publishing?

Right now I publish with both. I see good things and bad for each. Nothing is ever going to be simple or perfect in publishing. Yet this is the first time I see I/S publishing tipping in favor to traditional. Or maybe just with my tribe. So let’s hear it. Good and bad. Beautiful and ugly. What say you about today’s publishing format climate?

It’s About Who You Know: The Truth About Successful Publishing

Word Cloud "Social Innovation"I won’t claim to know what makes a successful writer. I do know what it takes to be a working one. Let me start this post by dropping a little knowledge: A working writer is a writer who works. I know, right? Who knew? A working write writes. They often write a lot.

I’m a working writer.

I don’t write every day.

I don’t outline.

I don’t do many booksignings or other promotions.

I get sick of writing.

I get even more sick of publishing.

I am a bad working writer.

I still write.

This past weekend me and about 400 of my new closest friends spent three days revealing in A) workshops and B) the fact we aren’t alone. No, dear writer, you are not a freak of nature…okay, you might be, but the rest of us surely aren’t.

There were so many fantastic workshops. I learned lots of things. I pitched to an editor. I met my agent in person for the first time since 2007 when I signed with her. I hung out with people I don’t spend enough time with. Met so many more who I now adore.

And in the midst of the madness, it came to me. THIS IS WHAT PUBLISHING IS ABOUT. Being part of a tribe. Being a part of something bigger than my writing cave, bigger than my isolation. If I sold a million books tomorrow, I’d know, while the money and fame are nice, it’s about the people I consider my tribe.assassins_kiss

Don't believe me? Fine, buy 10 copies of my latest book, and then tell 10 friends.  ----->

You never know when that person you meet today, turns out to be the very reason you become rich and famous. Thank you to all those I met this conference. To those I hold dear until next year, when you forget to buy me a whiskey.

Hope you had a lovely conference too. Tell me what you enjoyed most--Who you met? What you learned?

Hit Me Baby, One More Time: The Art of Rejection

You think the last rejection you got was bad? Well, yeah, it probably was.

Rejection sucks no matter how you think about it. Some people put a positive spin on it, declaring each rejection is one step closer to a yes. And they’re right.

Other might look at rejection as spirit crushing. And yeah, they’re right too.

Let’s face it, no one likes being told their work doesn’t measure up or in publisher/agent speak, it’s not a good fit, whatever that means. It hurts. At the very least it gives one pause, evaluating their career choice. Which I honestly have to say is not the brightest, wealthiest, worthwhile path one could take.

I bet no one has ever told a doctor, that kidney you're putting in me...well, it doesn't quite fit. We're going to pass on the transplant. But good luck on your future endeavors.

Throughout the writer’s career rejection is a constant. Even the bestsellers get rejected. As an added bonus, once a book hits the shelves, readers start to review it. 1-star ratings appear.

How does a writer face so much rejection and not throw up their arms, screaming, “I quit!”?

Surprisingly a number of writers do quit. Finding the price far too much. Others, like me and you, continue with our delusions. Mind you, our delusions might not be all that deluded after all. Every rejection is one step closer to a yes. Every review, as painful as it might be, means a reader found reason enough to comment.

Recently I managed to get reviewed and rejected within an hour of each other. I considered quitting, giving up on my bestseller dream. Then I remembered why I do this. It isn’t for the fame, for the money, for the yes. It’s for the words on the page. The stories in my head. I write because it gives me pleasure. It makes me happy.

That’s the true art of rejection. Facing it. Accepting. And finally moving on.

How do you deal with rejection? Or poor reviews? What steps do you take to get over it?

Conference Workshop Preview: 25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Since I typed the END to my first manuscript to the release of my 10th traditionally published book on August 15th
(The Assassin’s Kiss,if you’re interested) I’ve learned so much about the business and industry we’re in. Some good. assassins_kissSome bad.

In September at the RMFW Conference I’ll be facilitating a workshop on the things I’ve learned, but in the meantime, I’ll spill some BIG INDUSTRY SECRETS.

Like I know any.

But I do know the struggle--the ups and downs, the roller coaster of signing contracts, marketing, failing and getting back up.

If you didn’t already know, I hold a record of specific distinction around town. I amassed over 1,000 rejections before I sold my first book.

So trust me when I declare, this business is all about patience. That’s my greatest advice. The slow and steady wins this race. Write. Work hard. Submit. Grin and bear each rejection. And celebrate the hell out of each victory.

25 Things I’ve Learned Going from Pre-Published to Multi-Published

Friday, Sept 9th 4-4:50pm Durango Room

Last workshop of the day! Margaritas welcome and very encouraged.

Do you have any burning questions about going from pre-pubbed to multi? Or better yet, any advice for the journey you’d give a new writer?

BrownCoats, Scooby Gangs, & Muggles Unite

Do you wonder what happened after your favorite character’s happily or not so happily ever after? If you’re like me, which I hope you aren’t because two of us in this world would be dangerous, this question keeps you awake at night.

What happened to Inara and Mal? Did they ever…bow, chicka, waaaa, waaaa. Will I ever find out what happened to Zoe after Wash’s death? And River, what happens to River? What was their next adventure, and why the hell did FOX ruin everything by cancelling the show into the first season? I will forever hold a grudge.

Yes, I’m obsessed with Firefly. I recently rewatched it, taking careful notes of things the story didn’t answer. Now you’re probably asking yourself, what do I care about Julie’s madness? That or, what’s the meaning of life? (I’d give you the answer, but I’d have to kill you right after).

So here’s why you, as a writer, should care about my crazy. My obsession is a great example of leaving your readers wanting more versus giving the reader what they crave, as in answers. So are you a Tale Tease? (I call dibs on the copyright). Do you leave your readers wanting more? Or do you resolve any lingering questions?

I’m not sure there is a right or wrong way. For me, as a reader, I want to know it all. As an author, I like the mystery element. Though one must make sure to resolve the main plot points.

What say you?