Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Online Writing Group!

With Lenona's encouragement, I joined an online writing forum guided by one of the editors of A Long Story Short which has published two of my short stories and is scheduled to publish more of my Kate stories. It works this way: Members are sent topics from which to choose. They write a draft and put it up for critique by the other members of their group. Next comes a revision and more critique. Finally, there is a finished piece.

When I emailed to say I was interested if there was a slot available, the editor assigned me to a poetry group as well as a short-story group. My initial reaction was, "Oh, dear!" But I used to write poetry all the time--the old-fashioned rhymed kind. After thinking it over, I decided this is a good opportunity to spread my writing wings a bit.

Since January is almost finished, I will begin in February. The goal is, as I understand it, to come up with finished pieces ready (or almost ready) for submission, and the editor sends out market ideas regularly. Leona already does some honest crits for me, so I hope the others in the group are as helpful. She feels they will be.

Yesterday I took Blue Velvet down another path, but I'm not sure I'm satisfied yet. I'd like to get this first revision finished, even if the novel gets put away for a few months afterwards. It's just the idea of having a finished project tucked away for future work.

So, new writing adventures loom, and that's exciting. The daffodils hold a promise for the future, and I'm hanging onto that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wanted: A Writing Friend

I need a writing friend right here. We need to settle in front of the fireplace on a cold day like this, hot cocoa and laptops at the ready, and talk about our mutual writing. The questions need to fly fast and furious: What can I do about this? Don't you agree this is awful? How can I improve it? Where does the plot go from here? How would my character react realistically to this situation?

Once we've hashed out those and a dozen other questions, there needs to be silence except for the sound of fingers flying on keyboards. Nice companionable silence. Maybe music in the background if we can agree on what inspires. . .Mozart, Big Band. . .you get the picture.

Alas, I found no kindred spirit in the writing group here. They all seemed rather self-absorbed to me--though perhaps I didn't give them a chance. I think if I'd stayed with the club, though, I'd never have entered contests or had the courage to submit a novel synopsis. I just wasn't inspired or motivated at the end of a meeting.

Online writing buddies are wonderful, but I need someone here, too. There is a writing group that meets at the library in town on Sunday afternoons, but I've been hesitant to go. I suppose I need to try it. Going into new groups is so difficult for me. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Maybe this weekend. . .

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's Off!

The 24-hour short story is off! It wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated, and the prompt parameters were quite loose--just the idea had to be incorporated. One of Writers Weekly hints was to "think outside the box" and have a good strong ending. So I sat down and listed ideas that were both in and out of the box as far as setting and plot ideas and went from there. Thanks to the house elf and writing buddy Leona for critiquing the finished product.

Ending up with 1,060 words, exactly 110 more than the stated limit, I was faced with taking the story to the chopping block! Easier said than done, but right up until the time I hit "send", I was still finding ways to tighten things up.

Because it was a "vintage" piece, I had to stop on occasion and do some research. I try hard not to have any anachronisms! So, I had to find a car (circa 1915), make sure that a certain store was really in existence at the time, think about how to briefly and accurately describe what my characters were wearing, and be sure that the song lyrics I used were in the public domain. (I used four lines from "The Sweetest Story Ever Told" by Charles Stultz, circa 1892, one of which was the title of my story---"Tell Me That You Love Me".

I'm finding that I enjoy writing short stories, something I never really thought about except for the BV postings. I focused on novels. And speaking of novels, Blue Velvet is bogged down, having turned nauseatingly trite. Perhaps it's yet salvageable...though 10K words short of what I need.

What did Scarlet O'Hara say? "I'll think about it tomorrow."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

24-Hour Writing Contest

Today I'm registered to participate in a 24-hour writing contest sponsored by Writers Weekly. Its website says that it is "the highest-circulation freelance writing ezine in the world". The prompt and word-count limit will be emailed to participants at noon CST today, and the completed story must be received in their email inbox by noon CST on Sunday.

The fee was $5, and it sounded like fun. Also, the prizes are worth the effort: $300/$250/$200 plus publication and various perks in the form of subscriptions and how-to books.

In awhile, I'm off to the store to stock-up on Diet DP and may treat myself to a Subway club sandwich for good measure. Then it's home settle in the recliner with the lappy.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Slowing Down

The revision of Blue Velvet was going well until I hit Chapter Fourteen. It's a turning point, so maybe that's where the hitch came. The word count is almost 36K, so that's on target for a goal of 65K. Now, however, I'm getting into the sticky part of the story, and I already know it needs a major overhaul. (Frowning here)

It seems to me that writers should by all rights be the least egotistical species of "creative" folks. How bad is a first draft? And a second? Even a third needs tweaking, sometimes in a major way. I know that musical performers, for example, must study and practice, but then they get out on stage and give a fantastic performance. They have a right to be proud. Meanwhile, those of us who work with words struggle through rewrite after rewrite and are still dissatisfied.

Still, this is what I do, and I doing it, whether or not the end result is immediately satisfying-which, of course, it's usually not. So, I shall struggle on---wherever it is I'm going!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chapter by Chapter

Blue Velvet, the 2008 NaNo novel, may be more salvageable than I think. Ten chapters of Revision #1 and 27K words later, there seems to be hope.
There's no hurry on this, except for the fact that another novel is waiting for revision (NaNo 2007), but unfinished projects are irritating.

Saturday is the 24-hour writing contest. Should be an interesting experience if nothing else.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Synopses, Contests, and All That Jazz

Well, the synopsis is written and submitted. I queried my editor first to see if she was ready for it since we are still doing edits on Where Is Papa's Shining Star? There is no rush on WIPSS because our plan is to release both books (if the second one is contracted, of course) within a month of each other and with a chapter of FIPSS in the back of WIPSS as a sort of marketing tool.

Anyway, I told Nan that I wasn't happy with the synopsis, so she wrote back and offered to "tweak" it before submitting it to the editor-in-chief for final approval and a contract offer. She's terrific! I told her to do whatever she thought was necessary---that at my age, ego had long since flown, and I'd take all the help I could get!

So onto the next project. There are two NaNoWriMo novels waiting to be rewritten. They are SO BAD! I was after the word count, of course. I've started on this year's novel, Blue Velvet, as it seems to have more potential for revision and redemption.

Oh, here's something fun! I've entered a 24-hour short story contest. At noon on Saturday, I'll be emailed a prompt, and I have until noon on Sunday to write and submit a short story based on said prompt! It was $5, the cost of a Subway sandwich, easily foregone, and it looked interesting. Prizes are $300/$250/$200 + several honorable mentions, also publication and other perks.

I discarded another contest because the entry fee was high compared to the monetary prize and NO publication. There are still some contests I'm considering, but the deadlines are a couple of months away, so there's time.

My biggest challenge right now is making a "trailer" for WIPSS to go on my website. I've looked at the "how-to" but wish some fairy godmother would appear to wave her wand and make it happen!

Anyway, chapter two of Blue Velvet is waiting to be worked on.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'd Rather Do Anything Except. . .

I'd rather do anything except write a synopsis! Finding Papa's Shining Star has been through three revisions and a spellcheck and will probably get another run-through before I send it off. But before I can do that, I must write the dreaded synopsis!

Actually, I've begun. I have the title, Synopsis: Finding Papa's Shining Star neatly typed on a blank document. That's it. Nothing else. Unless, of course, you want to consider the word count--71,884--noted for the editor's information.

So how do I condense 494 double-spaced pages into no more than 5 of the same? I did it for Where Is Papa's Shining Star? on which I now have a nice contract. But that was then, and this is now, and I don't even want to think about it!

My weekend goal was to finish the third revision, which I did. I knew, after that was done, it would be synopsis time, but I didn't dwell on it. Did I hope it would just go away? Probably. Did it? Nope.

The deed must be done, there's no other way around it. But hear me. . .

(I'd rather be shot!)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yet Another New Story Published Online

The winter issue of the ezine Literary Magic is up. Check it out here http://www.literarymagicmag.com/ for my story, "No One Ever Died of a Broken Heart". I'm tickled pink--or blue--or whatever!

Right now I'm trying to write a synopsis for a story I'm submitting to a print magazine called New Love Stories. "Carry Me Home" is based on real-life happenings in my hometown in 1882. Two writing buddies have looked over the story, made suggestions, and pronounced it ready for submission. So all I need is a synopsis, and it's off. They pay quite nicely--so I have my fingers crossed that I'll hear something good from them in their 10-12 week time frame for reviewing.

I'm also doing a third read-through of Finding Papa's Shining Star. This will be the last revision, then there will be a spell check, and then I'll have to write a synopsis. I put off my very favorite thing until the last. (Visualize sad face here.)

It's a full-time endeavor, writing is. And, it's hard work. My brain protests regularly. But what fun!

All right---onward!

Friday, January 9, 2009

My name is on the cover. . .

I just received this book in the mail today--the Words of Belief 'Tis the Season which includes my second-place winning story "A Very Kate Christmas." It's exciting to hold it in my hands.
Excuse me while I sigh contentedly.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Novel Writing Tips or, A Good Excuse to Take a Break from Revision #2

I am supposed to be revising YET AGAIN today, and I've done a little. Stopping to read email is an effective way of "taking a break". I thought I'd pass on today's Fiction Writing newsletter/blog from Ginny Wiehardt at About.com. I get lots of information from this one, including contests and writing tips. http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/novelwriting/tp/noveladvice.htm?nl=1

One of today's articles is on novel writing. I've read all this before, but I like the way the ideas are laid out in easy-to-take-in steps. The interesting detail that SIXTEEN YEARS passed between the writing and publishing of Pride and Prejudice overwhelms me! All right, so it's an enduring classic, but I'd rather not wait sixteen years if you don't mind.

All right, all right, back to revision #2. My eye grows more critical each time, and I think more often, "This is bad!" In all honestly, the changes I've made in the weak beginning aren't all that bad. They're not all that good either, but I'm not done yet.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Kate Stories at A Long Story Short

The online ezine A Long Story Short (http://alongstoryshort.homestead.com/ has published the first of my Kate stories, "Full Circle" and requested two more, "Loving Each Other" and "Finding Kate". They will review and let me know if they want more. Being quite attached to Kate, I hope other readers will like her also.

When I first began submitting, I wondered how I'd ever acquire anything to put down when asked about my previous publishing experience! A Long Story Short gave me my first "clip", and I'm appreciative. Since then, I've acquired more "clips" here and there, and each one has a special excitement about it.

Yesterday I finished the first revision of Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to my already-contracted novel. I hope this book will be deserving of a contract also, but it needs some work. The beginning doesn't "grab" me, so it won't "grab" readers either. On the positive side, it has a good strong finish, plenty of conflict, and enough romance (or, as the house elf euphemistically puts it, mackage) to satisfy.

Here's a good website that receive by email and recommend to other writers. Its called Daily Writing Tips (http://www.dailywritingtips.com) and also has something of interest. Check it out.

Meanwhile, happy writing!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Saturday Chores

It's not even noon, and I've checked off the writing goals for the day! First, I revised another chapter of Finding Papa's Shining Star, the sequel to the novel that will be released this year. I've set one chapter per day as my revision goal, but that doesn't mean that more than one can't be done. I just don't want to burn out, and that's easy to do. I am easily bored with my own writing after awhile.


Then I printed a short-story for a contest. It must be postmarked by the 12th, and I need to get a money order for the entry fee, which means a trip to the front of the Village. (Have I mentioned that I do not like living twenty miles from nowhere?) Anyway, the package is neatly done, labels professionally printed, etc. I love my new postage scale which saves waiting in line at the post office!


I also started an expense sheet for my new "writing career". Oh, doesn't that sound high-falutin'? (As my mother would say!) I do NOT come from stock that considered it polite to toot one's own horn, so I do so tongue-in-cheek. I am keeping up with every penny that goes OUT to further said pursuits and, hopefully, a few pennies which will come in from such. I do have two checks coming, so those will be welcomed and added as income.


Another online magazine, Literary Magic, has accepted a story for publication in their winter issue. And A Long Story Short is going to do some of my "Kate Chronicles" stories (rewritten) as a series. Neither of these are paying markets, but I will put in a plug for the latter as being listed as one of the 101 Best Writing Websites in Writers' Digest for five years.

It's been a productive day so far. Hope that is the foretaste of things to come for this brand new year.