Posts Tagged ‘writing life’

Summertime and the Writing Ain't Easy

It’s summer time and oh so hard to sit down and write at the keyboard. Do you have that problem too? If you have children at home now, your time for writing is stripped away. I know authors who write during the child’s nap time, late at night or early in the morning when it is still quiet, while waiting for the soccer practice to end, etc. They find bits and snatches of time to get a story/article all down on paper.

Add to the small space of time available for writing, the temptation of  gorgeous summer skies and gentle breezes and all of a sudden the weeks pass with nothing written. Even my blogs are begging for attention.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and have more determination to keep writing in spite of perfect June weather, ball games, carting children around to activities, vacation time, and pure exhaustion. Do you have any tricks or tips to help us settle down to the business of writing?  Please share….. Thank you!

Dictionary.com–a Helpful Tool for Writers

Dictionary.comGood morning, Writers,

 
I use the dictionary online, dictionary.com  It’s so easy and always at your fingertips if you are online. Even if you can’t spell a word, somehow the dictionary will give you variations to help you. (Do you remember when you would ask your teacher how to spell a word, and she would just say-“Go look it up in the dictionary!” That always frustrated me. How can you look it up if you can’t spell it?)
 
http://www.dictionary.com will get you there. There is also a Thesaurus connected to this site. It has a lot of great suggestions especially when you are writing and your mind is just mush.
 
Hope these sites will make your writing easier and more fun.

Rejected again..I think…

I am dealing with rejections again, I think. Within the past six months I have had two different publishers request full manuscripts on two books. I have not heard from them within the time frame allotted. So does that mean that my mss were rejected or that they were running out of time to notify me? Both of these mss were submitted via email. I would think it would be easy to just click reply and say, “Thank you, Ms. Glaser, we have no plans to publish your book although it is the most fantastic, well-executed story ever written.” Um, okay, I added the last part….

Four years ago when I began submitting books to pubs, I usually sent the query letter, 2 or 3 chapters, bio and used snail mail. I always enclosed an SASE (stamped self-addressed envelope) for a reply. And, lo and behold, I almost always received some kind of an answer (rejections).  Some had suggestions for pubs that might be able to use the book, great remarks about the ideas and stories, and some just a form letter stuffed into the envelope. But, hey, at least I KNEW. They didn’t keep me wondering.

I hate to send the ms to another pub if the one who has it has invested time and money in reading it and it may have a chance, albeit small one, that the pub may still have it under consideration.

I know the simple thing is to just ask. I did. Still no reply. I guess I might as well face it…They don’t want the books. sigh

The one thing I have learned after receiving a rejection is that I have improved the book(s) each time. In fact it makes me focus more on what I am trying to achieve with each book and make revisions accordingly.

I must give kudos to the new website for children’s stories… Smories. They closed their contest to choose 50 stories for the site on April 30 and told all the submitters they would let them know if the stories were accepted by May 5. In fact they did let me know May 4. Unfortunately my story was not accepted, but I enjoyed knowing where I stood. The rejection letter was very kind and supportive encouraging me to keep sending stories. (Okay, I know this same email was sent to every one of the thousands of writers who submitted, but give me a little break here.) It is comforting to know they responded, so I will probably consider submitting another story to them when I have a worthy one.

Rejections are hard, but having your story, your book, your article rejected by a pub/online/magazine is not the end of the world. Timing is everything. Just be determined to make it better and to submit it to the right publisher where it will fit with their guidelines. Good luck!  And yes, a lot of luck is what determines your acceptance.

Movie Julie and Julia is About the Writing Life

We rented the movie, Julie and Julia, to pass a rainy afternoon/evening today not realizing that the topic wasn’t about cooking, but instead the writing life and well, life in general. Julia Child was a famous cook on tv before there ever was a Food Network. She wrote the cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, back in the ’50’s published by Knopf, still in print and selling.  

Julie is Julie Powell, a frustrated writer, who loves cooking. She decides to blog about her goal to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia’s book in 365 days. The stories parallel with Julia Child working on her cook book and trying to find a publisher and Julie preparing the recipes and then blogging about the results, as well as letting readers in on her life. (I loved the comparisons of writing a book in the ’50’s to blogging in the 21st century–typewriter vs laptop, those dreadful sheets put between paper to make a copy as you type on the typewriter vs copy machines, sending off the manuscript in a huge box through the mail vs. emailing files to the publisher) Ah, the good ole days.

The women’s lives were similar in many ways even though separated by 40 years of time. They both went through the trials and tribulations of  the writing life.  Julia with her cookbook and Julie with her blog.

The movie was cleverly presented allowing smooth transitions from one woman’s story to the other. I giggled at the simple sight gags. Meryl Streep’s acting was right on and made me believe she truly was Julia, not Meryl. It was fun to watch and a great reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same. (I know that is another cliche, but really people how can you say it any better than that?)

Publisher Out of Business?

I have spent two years writing a small novella. I began the book as a project for National Novel Writing Month. Nano challenges a writer to produce a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I didn’t make it to 50,000 because I told the story in about 25,000 words and I just didn’t feel it is fair to a reader to pad the books with 25,000 words of nonsense just to make the number. For the past couple of years I have occasionally taken out the book which languishes in a Word file in my laptop and revised the story.

It is a fun story to write and one genre that I never write in–horror. But since horror stories are so popular, I thought I’d give it a go. I had a riot with it..the plot, the setting, the characters all fell into place. I shared it with my writers group last summer, and we cackled over the possibilities of situations in the story.

I decided to look for a home for the ms.. a publisher. So I sent the ms to my First Readers for feedback and suggestions. After receiving excellent ideas for improvement and encouragement when they said they couldn’t put it down, I worked more hours on editing and revising.

I found a pub who wants novellas. Believe me, most pubs are not requesting novellas or short stories. They seem to prefer 60,000 words and no way was this gal gonna add that many words to this book.

So I queried a pub and the editor immediately emailed me back asking for the ms, cover letter, and marketing plan. I emailed the documents back in less than two weeks from her contact. Lo and behold, the offices are closed, but will re-open in February. Hello? This is March.

I checked the website and it was a blank page…not that it didn’t exist anymore. Today I checked and the page is up, but with a note they are having problems with their site.

Sooooooo—-now what? I guess I’ll give them a couple of weeks and then email to see if they are still in business. I know that there are more possible publishers out there, but I really like this one, so I hope they are doing fine and will be in touch with me very soon. Oh, and yeah, I hope they like the story so they will publishe it!

Ah, the life of a writer…….

A little girl was diligently pounding away on her grandfather’s word processor. She told him she was
    writing a story. “What’s it about?” he asked. “I don’t know,” she replied. “I can’t read.”

This joke is oh so true of me and my writing some days.  Oh, yes I can read after I have pounded out the story, but it doesn’t always make sense!  I can start a story and it will take off willy-nilly in another direction.  The beginning has nothing to do with the end or the end of a scene.  I forge madly on oblivious of the story I want to tell, only filling up the screen with words.

Hold on here.  Isn’t that okay to just write with abandon?  A whole practice of writing has grown up around this after the establishment of NaNo….a challenge for writers to put down 50,000 words in the one month of November.  They don’t care what the words are or if they make sense or are spelled correctly or if there is punctuation or if there are run-on sentences… The word count is the thing!

To my thinking, this complete freedom of writing is okay, at the time.  It is when December rolls around and I actually read all the mumbo jumbo I have written and try to cull out a story from the mess.  Now that is difficult and sometimes overwhelming.  But, with perseverance, I re-work and workagain (is that redundant?) the story.  In fact the 2007 Nano effort is now being revised for the final time and ready for my writing group to read it and give me feedback.  Oh yes, then another revision, then I may be brave enough to send it off to a few publishers and cross my fingers, turn around three times, sprinkle pixie dust, and wish on a star that someone will like this quirky mystery. 

Have I ever mentioned that I have never written a mystery??  That makes this Nano project even more challenging–trying out new genres and new voices.

Whether you write with your story outline or whether you write by the seat of your pants, a “pantser”, just do it.  It is amazing.  Write on!

Feeling Bad

Caught a cold this week and I am feeling bad.  I took a day to feel sorry for myself (and blew up every Kleenex in the house!!).  A runny nose and fever does not inspire great writing.  Add cold medicine to this mix and my brain was addled and could not connect words to make a sentence, nor did  feel like sitting in a chair and writing or researching.  So I gave permission to sit out for the day.  I watched TV and blew my nose.  Oh joy joy joy. 

I hate wasting a day like that, but sometimes a writer has to realize there is no way she can be productive in this situation.  You can’t use a snotty nose to stop writing forever.  Today my nose is not dripping and I am not taking cold meds, so I am off again to compose words of inspiration and information to share with the world.