Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Check out my writing prompt

Go under the "scribbles, short stories" page and check out my answer to Writer's Digest's writing prompt!  Then leave a comment and let me know what you think.  Feel free to answer the prompt yourself!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm going to submit an article

A woman I knew from college got an article published in an online magazine.  It's actually a devotional and it's pretty amazing.  While reading it, I thought....I really need to do this. 

It's scary starting out in the writing world.  I know there will be rejections, but still...knowing your work will be criticized and actually experiencing it are two different things.  Still, I couldn't help but be inspired by this woman.  She's only a few years older than me and she's only been blogging for about a month and now look!  She's got a publication for her resume!  Pretty awesome :)

So let's do this together.  If you're interested in doing some freelance for magazines, let's work on submitting an article to a publication of your choice.  Feel free to comment on your experience!

Right now, I'm working on an article for moms about weight loss.  I'm a bit of a chunky woman who is in the process of losing a bunch of weight, so I have first hand knowledge and words of wisdom.  Hopefully, the magazine will accept!  They take a few months to reply.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Query Letter

So I've seen it on every writer's based website......submit a query letter.

But what in the world is a query letter?

Well, by definition it is a formal letter written to agents or editors selling your story and yourself.  It's basically your first step.  If you're going to do traditional publishing, or looking to do some freelance magazine work to get your name out there, you're going to need to learn how to write a query letter.

Right now, I'm interested in doing some freelance writing for various religious and family based magazines.  Under the writer guidelines, they tell me to submit a query letter before submitting a manuscript.  Ok, but I've never even heard of a query letter before a few weeks ago, so where do I start?

Writer's Digest is a great website for aspiring writer's.  I recommend joining their site!  I'll summarize what I've learned about queries from all their information:

- Start strong.  Don't bother introducing yourself.  Instead, tell the agent / editor what type of story you have and include word count if possible. 

- Summarize your work.  This is where you really need to shine because if it's boring, you won't make it past this step.  I read that it's best to pretend this section of the letter is the back cover jacket of your book.  Make it pop!

- Why them?  Why that agent?  Why that magazine?  Know a little about that agent - what genre they represent or books they've published. 

- Try not to make it over a page. 

-Don't tell your age

-Don't tell agents you value their time (I saw this on the Writer's Digest page.  Basically, agents know they are busy and you've just proved that you can waste a sentence telling them what they already know instead of pitching them your idea.)

-Include any writer's credits that are meaningful. 

-Study other query letters.  Here's a link to books that have examples:

Ok, so it's a lot of pressure but at some point you're going to have to just buckle down and get it done.  If you want, feel free to post your own query letter below and our little growing community of 1millon word blog followers will give you feedback.

I'm going to try to write my first query letter very soon to a magazine.  I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Publishing World and Self Publishing

So I recently stumbled across this:


It's a free call from Andrea Owens who...well let me just paste from her website:

"Andrea Owen is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) from The Coaches Training Institute. She holds a Bachelor of Science from California State University in Kinesiology, specializing in Health Science, as well as a personal training certification from the American Council on Exercise since 2005. She was selected by the Kinesiology faculty for outstanding achievement in the Kinesiology degree program in 2009. She has also worked for the American Council on Exercise on the corporate level."  http://yourkickasslife.com/

I hadn't heard of her before coming across the call but I encourage anyone interested in publishing to check her out.  Her call is filled with great words of wisdom about the publishing world including whether self publishing is right for you.

I have an old friend who self published a book on amazon.  It's a nonfiction book about how to prepare and pass the bar exam.  He made it seem pretty easy to have a book self published and I admit the lure of writing and seeing it relatively quickly in print is rather tempting.  Think of all the advantages of self publishing...
- you get to keep the money you make
-whatever you want in the book gets to be in the book
-you're in complete control
-it's quicker

I'm a bit of a control freak so the last one is particularly tempting.  The idea of having someone tear apart my work piece by piece is a bit scary.  However, let's look some of the advantages of publishing with a major company....
-you have experts who will make your book sell-able
-you have a marketing team
-you have professional editors to fix all the mistakes you didn't even know you were making

Also tempting.  In this day and age, the reality is that many of us can write and publish a book without the help of the big publishing companies.  But then what?  We'd have to market the book, figure out how to sell it which will probably be on our own website or going in person to events that host vendors.  I used to run the vendor circuit when I had a home bakery.  I'd sign up for local craft fairs and festivals to sell my treats and I remember one event a self publishing writer had a booth.  She wrote historical fiction for young adults and she tried to sell at craft fairs.  She may have been successful, I don't really know, but for me I'd rather have a professional team come up with marketing strategies.

But everyone is different.  It depends on your ultimate goal.  For me, I want my books to be read by the masses because I want my messages to be heard by as many people as possible.  I like the idea of working with a publishing company, even though realistically I know that it may take years and years to even be accepted by one.  And even that doesn't guarantee the book will end up on the store shelves.  But as writers, I think we know and accept the risks.  Our labors may make us millions or they may never be read by anyone outside of our families.  It's the love of writing that keeps us going.

So whether you plan to self publish or not, I'd say just keep writing, reading and learning about the publishing process.

Do you plan to self publish?  Why or why not?  Leave a comment!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In the beginning...

My first novel was about a Native American baby girl who was kidnapped by an English couple.  The couple took the baby back to London where they never told her the truth about her birth family.  Meanwhile the girl, who had long dark hair and dark eyes, never suspected she was any different than her pale blond haired parents until she uncovers some secret artifacts hidden away in the attic.  She goes on a bit of an adventure, traveling back to the land once owned by her ancestors and discovers the truth.  In the end, she forgives her English parents and meets her Native American family, whom she decides to visit during the summers.

I was in third grade when I wrote this suspensful thriller.

While the story lacked...well, pretty much everything...I loved writing it.  In fact, I loved writing anything.  I know it sounds kinda creepy, but there has always been a natural attraction between me and a crisp fresh piece of notebook paper.  The way a pencil glides on the page, moving back and forth, crafting lines into letters, letters into words....well, you get the picture.  I'm was, and still am, a bit obsessed with writing which would be perfect if my profession was an author. My obsession would have been completely normal if I had majored in....oh, I don't know....creative writing where I probably would have met other people equally obsessed with the faint sound a charcoal pencil makes as it rubs on it's lose leaf counterpart.  However, I took a different path.

I majored in Biomedical Engineering.  Could I have gotten any further away from writing??  But I won't say that I regret my decision.  At the time, I wanted a firm career in a growing industry.  I thought having job stability would make me happy, but as anyone with a passion knows....if you take away the thing that makes you "you", you simply won't be happy.

So the summer before my senior year of college, I got back into writing while accepting that I'd never get any college training in the subject.  Instead, I decided to immerse myself in books then take a stab at writing one myself.  Enter my brief but wildly awesome obsession :  romance novels. 

Ok, ok, so I wasn't reading Faulkner or writing the next great American novel, but man.....I loved reading and writing romance.  I spent the entire summer before my senior year sequestered in my room, typing on my computer, only coming out to go to my job at the tissue engineering lab.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  I mean, the experience was awesome.  The book was terrible.  I'll have to post some snips from it so you can see how truly terribly it came together.

But the passion for writing came back with such overwhelming abundance, that I knew I could no longer deny what it is I really wanted to do with my life.

So let me skip ahead a whole bunch of years.  I'm married to an amazing hunk of a man.  We have the coolest little dude son ever.  We homeschool him which is far more difficult than I anticipated.  And we're Christians.  I mention that last bit only so you can understand why I changed my genre from romance to Christian romance, which is pg rated instead of X (although in defense of romance novels, some are a hard pg-13 while others are X.  It really depends on the writer.)  Oh, and I've been writing tons!  Like, tons and tons!

Now...it's time to get serious.  This includes writing something worthy of others actually reading, plus getting published.  And because I'm a wanna be writer, I thought it only fitting to blog about my path to publication every step of the way.

So I'm at the beginning.  I have some short stories, plus some longer novelish type stories, but nothing to submit to an agent.  Plus, before I even get to that step, I need to work on a ton of "pre-publishing" things that I'll go into over the coming blogs.  And then...of course...there's the emotional side to all of this.  I need to actually work up the courage to try and turn my dream into my life which is pretty scary, especially since my life is pretty busy.

But we'll get to all that.  First thing first.  A published author told me that a typical romance novel runs somewhere around 80,000 - 100,000 words.  The longest "novel" I have right now is just over 30,000 words.  So I have some writing to do while doing a bunch of other "pre-publishing" things.  But I'm ready and pumped!!...and let's face it, a little scared....but mostly pumped!! 

Time to get to work!