Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are You Writing Right?



If you just snorted, well… permission to snort back? ;-)

Okay, so we all know there's no "right" way of writing, but are you writing what you love?

Anne Gracie had us do an exercise at this year's RWA Roadshow that led to an interesting discovery and contradicted my answer to that question.  I'd like to take a moment to say a very special thank you to Anne for granting me permission to discuss some of her material from this year's Roadshow.  If you ever get a chance to hear Anne speak make sure you get a seat!

The exercise only took a minute to do (literally) and I can wait if you want to give it a go...

Exercise: Write down five elements that you like in a book. For example, do you like humor? Surprise? Trolls?  Little green men?  BIG green men?

My list came out a little like this:
- Emotional rollercoaster
- Surprise
- Flawed characters/quirky
- Humor
- Learn something

You're impressed, aren't you?  Except for the "learn something" I actually sound literate.  Finger snaps for me.

So what do those five points mean? They're the top five features you love in a book, and now the million dollar question is: are you incorporating them into your own stories?

Umm... Maybe? 

I have a degree in marketing and international business so my tiny little brain is quite thrilled by things like market trends and I’m guilty of falling into the trap of writing for the trend rather than myself. It’s not something I do on purpose but it does happen and I can honestly say that those are the stories that never sit quite right with me.

The golden rule is to write what YOU want to read. That’s what JK Rowling did. That’s what Stephen King did. And we all know how badly it turned out for them… They may have had a tough time breaking into publishing land but you’ll have an even tougher time kicking them out.

Now, I was a little surprised by my list. Humour isn’t an element I set out to write into my stories and yet it’s one of the things I really enjoy when I’m reading. If a character can make me laugh then I’ve already broken through that emotional barrier and bonded with them.  I'm a sucker for a good sense of humour.

Emotional bonding is important for your readers. It prevents them from putting the book down to do the ironing. You want them to care about your characters and their HEA enough to risk going to work with wrinkled clothes.

So take a step back and have a look at your list. Really look. There’s only five things on it but it could tell you something as big as a tip for emotional bonding that is specific to you and your writing. That’s not to say I’m about to turn into a comedian but being aware of what you find natural when it comes to emotional bonding is important. That sort of insight doesn’t come along every day.

It’s not a hard and fast list of rules that must be included in every manuscript but if you’re writing something dark and dangerous but love to read books that are sweet and funny then it might be time to try your hand at sweet and funny because that could be where your creative talents really lie.

Write what you love to read. It’s as simple as that.

Don't forget to post your list of five or how you go about emotional bonding in your work.  I'd love to know what you come up with.

If you'd like more information on the lovely Anne Gracie, her books and writing articles please click here.  You can purchase Anne's latest release, The Accidental Wedding, here.

Happy writing!
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Monday, July 25, 2011

August Writing Workshops


Instructor: Beth Barany
Dates: August 1-31 2011
Course Description: You may think that social networking as an author is only for published authors. But actually authors at all stages of their career can use the tools of Twitter, Facebook and blogging (and more!) If you only discover and implement a few important strategies, you will find that social networking can fit into your busy life, and help grow your career, and, yes, it’s true, sell more books!

Instructor: Don McNair
Dates: August 1-31 2011
Course Description: Publishers and agents reject 99 percent of received manuscripts after simply glancing at their first chapters. This class shows why your own manuscript was rejected . . . and how to fix it!

Instructor: Suzanne Rock
Dates: August 1-28 2011
Course Description: Digital books are becoming more and more popular. Devices such as the Kindle, iPAD and Nook have brought ebooks into the limelight and provided many new and exciting publishing opportunities for writers. Despite this, many are still confused about the epublishing process. This course is for beginners who want to learn more about digital publishing and determine if it’s a good fit for them. We will touch on big vs.small epress, self-publishing, vanity publishing, contracts, promotions and dealing with epirates. By the end of class, the student should have a good understanding of the options available and have the tools they need if they wish to move toward digital publication.

Instructor: Carolyn Cooper
Dates: August 1-26 2011
Course Description: Stop guessing if your marketing is effective and what your readers want. Avoiding wasting your time and money. Learn how to use your free website visitor information (aka metrics) to determine a) where are the best places to spend your time and money to build your audience, b) what’s working (and what’s not) on your website and your marketing efforts, and c) how to get measurable improvements on your marketing ROI (Return On Investment) quickly & efficiently.

Instructor: Kelle Z. Riley
Dates: August 1-26 2011
Course Description: Today’s corporate managers function as mentors to their teams. To achieve this they study a range of techniques designed to help them identify and meet the needs of their employees at all stages during a career. Writers, on the other hand, don’t have managers to turn to and often feel alone in their struggles. By studying the same techniques as corporate managers, however, they can learn to recognize the developmental stages within themselves and seek out the specific guidance/mentoring they need at all stages in their career development.

Instructor: Susan Meier
Dates: August 1-26 2011
Course Description: Ever wonder what you’re supposed to “put” in between those four or five turning points of your story? Susan Meier’s Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere provides quick, easy solutions for any author who has ever wondered “now what?”


CHANGING GENRES
Instructor: Beth Daniels
Dates: August 5-26 2011
Course Description: This workshop runs four weeks and sets challenges twice a week. These challenges (or homework, if you will) address things like:
• The marketplace
• Evaluating the elements required
• Making note of how many of them are already part of the writer’s style

• Deciding what needs to be learned/adapted/changed, and even confessing – or realizing – the reason a writer is considering leaping into a new field. In other words, “what’s it going to take and can I follow though?”

Instructor: Clair Ashgrove
Dates: August 5-26 2011
Course Description: Digital Publishing — How did we get here, and is it right for me? Join Claire Ashgrove for an in depth look on:
• The origins of digital publishing

• The differences and similarities between digital and standard print presses

• An analysis of benefits and drawbacks to signing with an electronic house

WRITING REGENCY SET NOVELS WORKSHOP

Instructor: Shannon Donnelly

Dates: August 5-26 2011

Course Description: This workshop covers:

• What makes the Regency a fascinating era

• Key research resources

• Brief overview of the history of the Regency era, with its great contrast, and therefore great conflicts, and rich background.

Instructor: Kit Fraizer
Dates: August 5-26 2011
Course Description: The class includes:

• Signals of the spark of sexual attraction

• Why the attraction works or doesn’t work

• The body language of deceit

• Signals of anger or betrayal

• The signs of growing affection, and eventually love

Instructor: Carol Hughes
Dates: August 5-26 2011
Course Description: What does Nora Roberts, Stephen King, George Lucas (STAR WARS), Stephen Spielberg (E.T.), Terry Russo (SHREK/PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), James Cameron (TITANIC/AVATAR) know about writing that makes them the mega stars that they are?

• Do you know what the 18 scenes are that every story contains, no matter its length or genre?

• Do you know what impact your character’s mental gender has upon readers?

• Do you even know what your character’s mental gender is?

• Do you know how your character’s arc drives your story?

• Or how your story drives your character’s arc?

• Do you know the quick and easy way to create heart-stopping dilemmas for your characters that drive your readers wild?

• Do you know what the 4 throughlines of every story is?

• Do you know how to weave them together?

CREATING CHARACTERS THAT BREATHE (OUT OF THIN AIR)

Instructor: Diana Rowe

Dates: August 8-19 2011

Course Description: How does a writer create realistic, memorable characters - fictional people so "real" they become intimate friends to readers? This six-lesson workshop examines some of the tools you will need to create realistic characters who seem to jump off the page into your readers' lives, to create "people who breathe" out of thin air.

Instructor: Marcia King-Gamble
Dates: August 8-22 2011
Course Description: Do you have an idea percolating (or maybe you don't?) This workshop will get you writing. It covers how to generate ideas when the idea well has dried up. Then once you get a firm grip around your plot you'll put together the dreaded synopsis. By the time you're through you will have written a query and a synopsis.


COWBOYS & BIKERS: GIDDY UP & GOOD VIBRATIONS

Instructor: Diana Rowe

Dates: August 10-31 2011

Course Description: Coming soon


Instructor: Sascha Illyvich
Dates: August 15-28 2011
Course Description: What you’ll learn from this class
• Male Archetypes and how they affect our characters
• How (il)logical men think and why they act the way they do
• How to take any male character from any movie/story and modify him to fit your story
• How to get your man to express his true “self”
• What men REALLY care about and how to work with that for your characters*
• A man’s self view*
• The GAY MALE Viewpoint*
• The Male Cycle of Emotions and how it compares to the female cycle of emotions
• A man’s journey in life
• What men really think

Instructor: The Grammar Divas
Dates: August 17-31 2011
Course Description: Do ever-shrinking word counts and dwindling editor reading time have you thinking you need to put your prose on a diet? Wordy sentences and unnecessary phrases clutter writing, turning an otherwise good manuscript into an overweight tome. Cut the fat and enhance your chances of garnering an editor's attention. The Grammar Divas demonstrate techniques to identify and correct common author mistakes. Discover how to identify which words add meaning to a sentence and which just take up space. Learn alternatives to wordy, verbose, overstated, or pompous phrases. Devise strategies to help you write precisely what you mean every time.


Happy writing!
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Pitch Your Pants Off


I'm back!  After battling computer and internet problems I've been granted a reprieve.  But if I suddenly disappear from blogland again you'll know it's not by choice, but because the evil computer fairy can kick butt better than I.

For anyone who missed it the Harlequin Intrigue Editor Pitch 2011 has been launched.  So, if you love to write taut, edge-of-the-seat contemporary romantic suspense stories with intrigue and desire then make sure you send your one-page double-spaced synopsis in by August 16th.  For full details click here.  For Harlequin Intrigue writing guidelines click here.

If your writing style is more suited to Harlequin Special Edition's sophisticated, substantial and emotional stories, then the Harlequin Special Edition Happy Holidays contest is for you.  It's a great way to get your work in front of the editors.  This time they're looking for first chapters and a one-page synopsis with a holiday theme.  For more information click here.  For Harlequin Special Edition's writing guidelines click here.

Also, Mills & Boon New Voices competition is back for 2011 and will launch September 13th.  Keep your eye on the website here.

So, are you planning on entering any, or all, of the competitions?

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Marrying Cade Wave - Stop Nine



It’s launch day for Sally Clements’ new book, Marrying Cade, and to celebrate, she’d having a Mexican wave of excerpts! You can keep up with the wave’s progress on the twitter hashtag #MarryingCadeWave – and add a tweet with the hashtag to chat with everyone else who’s reading along!

Here’s how to do it…these are the stops, just call in to these blogs to read each excerpt (they start at stop one, and finish at stop ten). Alternatively, start wherever, and click on the next stop link at the bottom of the excerpt. Or just click on the buy link, to get your own copy of Marrying Cade!

 

Stop Two – Maya Blake’s blog

Stop Three – Nas Dean’s blog

Stop Four – Joanne Coles’s blog

Stop Five – Romy Summers’ blog

Stop Six – Lorraine Wilson’s blog

Stop Seven – Joanne Pibworth’s blog

Stop Eight – Suzanne Jones’ blog

Stop Nine – Lacey Devlin’s blog



Stop Nine’s excerpt…

And she was going to be Adam’s family—totally off limits. But that didn’t stop his hungry gaze roaming over the curve of her lips, or his body’s ardent reaction.

“How’s your papa?” Adam’s tone was full of concern.

“Not as good as we hoped, but they brought him back from the hospital today with a doctor and nurse in attendance to monitor him. They recommend he takes it easy.” She shrugged her shoulders, looked toward the heavens, then, as if it might hurt, smiled. “Papa, of course, is determined to walk Rosa down the aisle. And Rosa wants him to.”

Cade nodded. Rosa always got what she wanted.

A couple of fat bumblebees hovered over the purple flowers of the rosemary bushes under planting the plane trees where they sat. Their slumberous buzzing was soothing in the perfumed heat. Cade breathed in, then slowly let the breath escape in a long puff. Isola dei Fiori was weaving its spell around him, and it felt damn good.

Melo bit into a marinated artichoke heart, and a small drizzle of olive oil dampened her bottom lip. She wiped it away with a napkin, grinned and lifted her shoulders. “It’s impossible to eat these elegantly.” Her gaze met his and held.

A flash of electricity shot between them, and his heart thumped and kicked. She was aware of him. More than aware, attracted.

 
Thanks so much for being Stop Nine, Lacey!


Before you go on to stop ten, do click the tweet button below to help get the wave going! Now, continue on to Stop ten here!


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Friday, July 1, 2011

July Writing Workshops


There aren’t as many workshops this month so I’ve posted the blurbs too. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t mind becoming a contest Diva...

 

Instructor: Gemma Halliday
Dates: July 4 to July 15

Course Description:
Want to add "award winning writer" to your title? Then this is the workshop for you! We'll be going to go tips and tricks for making your manuscript rise to the top in writing contests. Where to enter your specific manuscripts, what judges look for, and how to maximize a contest final and turn it into a sale!

 

Instructor: Rory Miller
Dates: July 8 – 29

Course Description:
Want to make your Law Enforcement character come alive, give her what she needs to know so that she thinks and acts like a real cop when things go bad?

Rory Miller, author of “Meditations on Violence” and the e-book “Violence: A Writer’s Guide” will provide a class on Use of Force exactly as it is taught to Police Academy officers (with a few insights from the grizzled veteran point of view.)

You will learn:
• What constitutes a threat
• How officers are taught to discern when force is appropriate and how much to use
• How the constant possibility of a dangerous situation affects every other aspect of the job




Instructor: Sharon Mignerey
Dates: July 8 – 29

Course Description:
Most of the fiction writers I know have several books on character development that espouse all sorts of advice.

Most of that advice boils down to making sure character development includes two things: milieu and motivation. In a word, M&Ms.

Of all the techniques to build well-rounded characters, these two provide the necessary fodder to create unforgettable characters.

Milieu is that wonderful French word that encompasses all aspects of a setting—the physical, social, and cultural.

In this workshop, we look at this from the perspective of your protagonist’s history, comfort, and emotional connection.

Motivation, as all writers know, is key to having your characters move through a story in a way that feels natural and organic.

Motivation includes the big “why” that drives the story question and the little “why” that focuses on what he wants in this scene right now. Of all the techniques to build well-rounded characters, these two provide the necessary fodder to create unforgettable characters.

 

Instructor: Pat Hauldren
Dates: July 8 – 29

Course Description:
Urban Fantasy–A world within a world, how to write and market today’s urban fantasy.

Fantasy, and especially Urban Fantasy, are hot genres on today’s market. In this class, we’ll define Urban Fantasy, explore the markets available and how each market expects different aspects of the same genre. We’ll also study the current publications in the genre, including adult, YA, and children’s subgenres, and compare our own manuscripts to these. Throughout the class, we’ll work on improving our manuscripts to meet market needs.

 

Instructor: Catherine Chant
Dates: July 11-23, 2011

Course Description:
This one is great if you're trying to encourage chapter members to teach classes--many people don't think they can do it, or they're not expert enough. Catherine's workshop helps all writers see that they are experts in something that they can share with other writers. Helps create fresh workshop topics all chapters can take advantage of and helps writers promote themselves.

This two-week workshop begins with an overview of why you would want to create and teach an online workshop, and covers these topics:

1. Developing a workshop topic
2. Identifying your audience
3. Designing a lesson plan
4. Interacting with your students
5. Designing exercises for your students
6. Your workshop proposal
7. Technical aspects of online teaching (e.g. Yahoogroups)

At the end of this workshop you will have a basic outline of your course and the first draft of a proposal ready to polish and send out to workshop coordinators.

 

Instructor: Eva Gordon
Dates: July 11-25, 2011

Course Description:
A three week seminar for writers who are interested in writing about wolves and werewolves in their stories but who want more background on the basic biology and behavior of real wolves. Writers will learn why the wolf evolved from admired archetype to savage, evil nemesis of man. The instructor will include original interviews of a few famous werewolves and the workshop will end with the students creating their own myths based on their created shifter characters.

 
BREAKING THINGS DOWN INTO THREES: PLOT ORGANISATION FOR PANTSERS AS WELL AS PLOTTERS

Instructor: Beth Daniels
Dates: July 11-August 7, 2011

Course Description:
Plots require organization – even those written by Pantsers. Why? Because all storytelling requires a flow, a smooth transition from one scene to the next. Getting it doesn’t require an outline though. All it requires is a system. A system of breaking everything down into thirds.

Three is a magic number. It’s used in art, music, interior design, and in literature. After all, doesn’t every story have a Beginning, a Middle, and an End? Three things.

But we need to go further. Need to section the various elements of our storylines into smaller and smaller divisions of three.

Many have already have done this in writing essays at school, or in a public speaking class. Opening either a essay or a speech by telling the audience 1) here’s what has occurred before and what we need to change, 2) here is how we can change it or why we should change it, and 3) the problem is this because of this and that and we need to do this to correct it.

Storylines in fiction do exactly the same thing, they simply use characterization, action and reaction to move along. Scenes can be broken down into threes; chapters can; POVs can. And in thinking by threes to create each tale, each element of a tale, story flow results.

Participants should have a work in progress, but it can be in any state of development – thinking about, early chapters, middle, or heading toward the conclusion. Thinking by threes works at any level, including editing. It can also help identify things that aren’t really needed in the book, the sort of things editors delete.

This class is for writers at any point in their writing career from unpublished to midlist.

 
TITLING YOUR WORK

Instructor: Sally Walker
Dates: July 18-25, 2011

Course Description:
Titling a work is like naming a child because it acknowledges the unique dignity of that being to both the creator and the world. “Untitled” hints of disrespect and confusion. Learn how to proudly give an identity to your creative work through five simple analytical steps then learn WHY you need a title for the world to latch onto your work in this one-week intense workshop!


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