Friday, March 25, 2011

Furry Friday - Write Every Stride

Almost everybody involved in the horse world has heard the term “ride every stride.” It’s a fundamental principle when it comes to riding, especially when we’re talking about competition. The expression means pretty much what it says — you’ve got focus on each and every stride the horse takes. Make each one count. Pay attention. Don’t just sit back and coast and let the horse go on autopilot. It’s important especially if when you’re facing obstacles as challenging as this:

Same is true for writing. We’ve got to write every word. Make every word count. Every scene must matter. Pay attention to what you’re writing, or reading when it comes to revising. Don’t let a single word pass by your notice. If you make each writing stride count, you’re more likely to get past the big hurdles of finding an agent, pitching a book, publishing it, and staying published. It’s all the steps you take before that get you there.

Happy Writing (and riding, too)!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Epic Follower Blogfest/Contest - Full Manuscript Request Prize

Hi All,

There's a pretty cool contest going on over at Shelley Watter's blog. You can find the details here:

Entry into the contest involves the usual stuff (follow the blog, twitter about the contest, etc), but you also must write and post a twitter-length pitch for your WIP (140 characters). Now, I know that's a huge challenge to condense your book length story into a 1-2 sentence summary, but that's exactly what makes entering this contest totally worth it. Even if you don't win, it's a great exercise for getting ready for the querying process.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Furry Friday - Revision Edition

Which means I'm keeping this one extra short.

Who says cats and dogs can't find common ground?

And for more kitty fun -- check out Jodi Meadow's post today:

Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Revision Strategy

Yippee! Revision time is here -- and I can honestly say I’m excited about it. I’m fearful, nervous, anxious, too, but genuinely excited. It’s a great place to be.

However, as I’ve indicated in previous postings, I’m constantly struggling against my natural tendency to be the hare in the writing race. But this time I’m determined to be the tortoise. If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s this -- nothing is more detrimental to someone trying to get published than being in a hurry about it.

That said, I’ve decided on three guidelines I swear to obey in this round of revisions in an attempt to keep myself moving at the correct pace. They are:

  1. I will stop revising at any given time the moment I become tried or distracted (I have a tendency to push through mental exhaustion simply to achieve a greater number of pages read/written/revised, to the detriment of the quality of work. It’s too easy to miss something important when you’re fatigued, too easy to start skimming instead of reading. Uncle Stevie might have said, “You must not come lightly to the blank page,” but I think he’d agree with me that you should never come lightly period, blank page or no).
  2. I will delete all unnecessary words and scenes I notice; no matter how much I love them. (Kill your darlings, my dear, kill your darlings.)
  3. I will read each word aloud before sending the draft for another round of critiques.

Okay, that’s enough time talking about revising -- time to get to it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Furry Friday Presents: A Puppy Princess Fairytale

That's right folks, it's once again that time of the week when I showcase cute, beautiful, and/or funny photos of some of my favorite four-legged friends.

For today’s post, I present for you a Puppy Princess Fairy Tale.

Once up on a time, there was a puppy princess by the name of Pippa who spent her days lounging in her favorite place, a half-empty Diet Coke cardboard box.

Until one day when another princess from a neighboring puppydom spotted Princess Pippa so cozy and happy in her favorite box. I would like to lounge there,” thought Princess Emma, but how do I get Pippa to move?

After careful consideration, Princess Emma decided subterfuge would be best, knowing as she did that Princess Pippa would never suspect so long as Emma acted sweet and friendly, offering her fellow princess a welcoming kiss.  

At once, Pippa invited Emma to share her Diet Coke cardboard box. “There is plenty of room for us both,” Pippa said. And so Emma joined her, although she still wanted the box for herself.

Emma waited until Pippa began to relax once more, drifting off into a sleep. Time to make my move, Emma thought.

Emma attacked! But Pippa was not so easily overcome. She fought back, and the two puppy princesses engaged in a mighty battle. Until…

Finally, Pippa knew all was lost, and she abandoned her favorite lounging box. Emma took her place, happy and victorious.

The End

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

WriteOnCon Dates Announced!

That's right, folks. The 2011 dates for WriteOnCon are August 16 through August 18th! I missed participating in last year’s event, but I’m planning on tuning in (or webdialing or whatever the heck you call online conferencing) this year. I’ve heard wonderful things about it and have read some awesome posts from participating writers and whatnot.

And the best thing about it? -- It’s free. That’s right. So is there really any reason not to attend?

Find out more at

Monday, March 7, 2011

Patience + Writing = Revision Success

The following lyrics are from a long forgotten song called Patience off a long forgotten children's record known as The Music Machine:

“Have patience,
Have patience,
Don’t be in such a hurry.
When you-get
You only start to worry…”

Yeah, this is soooooo not my theme song. I mean not even a little bit.

I am hands-down the most impatient person I know (well, next to my mother that is). I’m so impatient I even get annoyed with myself when I’m taking too long doing something -- especially when trying to complete a WIP (complete = in submission). Sometimes it’s like there’s this voice whispering in the back of my mind that every minute I don’t spend writing is a missed opportunity -- somebody else’s ship coming into port that should’ve been mine.

But I’m slowly getting better at ignoring that voice. Because you know what? Patience really is a virtue -- a vital one. Particularly when it comes to writing. This is the first time I’ve successfully restrained myself from entering into revisions right after finishing the first draft of a novel. I’ve managed to go four weeks already, with at least another more to go. To my delight, I’m finding that I’m actually starting to get excited to do revisions. It’s weird. Usually I look at revisions with the same, resigned attitude I would have at building a deck or painting a room -- it’ll be hard work, but totally worth it when it’s over. Not anymore, baby. In fact I’ve got a feeling that this revision might be as much fun as the initial drafting. And that, my friends, is a very good thing. It may be a cliché but it’s true -- patience is its own reward.

For those of you interested in a bit of nostalgia, you can listen to the entire song here:

Friday, March 4, 2011

Furry Friday

I tend to write a lot about writing. It's sort of my thing, you know? But sometimes it's nice to express things in a more visual (and shorter) way. The way animals can. Like this one for instance:

Sometimes a single expression says it all: "You're taking a picture of me while I'm eating? What's wrong with you woman?"

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Everything I Know About Writing Books I Learned From the Movies

Just kidding. Like probably all writers, most of what I’ve learned has been from the old “read a lot, write a lot” routine, with a fair bit of trial and error thrown in.

But not all of my writing lessons have come from the written word.  I think you can learn something from any form of storytelling, good and bad. Sometimes even a single line or two can be profound, no more so in my experience then in a short scene in Wonder Boys. This is one of the rare films I like even more than the book, for all kinds of reason (not the least being that Alan Tudyk has a small role in it). The scene in question, between a college writing student and her professor, goes like this:

Hannah Green: “Grady, you know how in class you’re always telling us that writers make choices?”

Grady Tripp: “Yeah.”

Hannah Green: “And even though your book is really beautiful […] it sort of reads in places like you didn’t make any choices.”

Took me a long time to understand the full impact of this small, seemingly insignificant little exchange. Writers make choices? Well duh. That’s all writers do, right? We name our characters, decide what they look like, move them around on the page like dolls in a toy house. Simple, really, don’t you think?

Nope, not by a long shot. Those things aren’t the choices that Hannah is talking about. She’s talking about the big stuff, the deep stuff, like deciding what makes a character tic, why the villain comes onto the scene with a gun on page 23. Transcribing these events, the conflicts, the arguments, the declarations of love is easy. Understanding them isn’t.

So what’s the trick to making choices you ask? Simple. You’ve got to ask questions. That’s the difference between writing on the surface and digging deep. When we drift along, letting the story unfold as it wants without pause or consideration, it’s like riding down a river in a raft with no oar. When we do things that way it’s too easy to get stuck, to move too slow, or even worse, to go over the edge into some unnecessary and unbelievable plot development.

So ask questions and make choices. Those are the oars writers steer by.