Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quick and Dirty Guide

Maggie's Guide to Getting Published

And if you thought something else what are you doing here hmmm? I mean really, should be ashamed of yourself. I'm not going to post anything like That here.
I'm not sure Maggie will either but she's younger and more adventurous than I perhaps. ;) But she does have great writing advice. As most regular or irregular readers here know that I reference her blog site a Lot. So her blog is a good one to check out regularly. [you can check out my Friends list at top here.] But this is on her Facebook fan site, and is too good for any writer to miss. So re-posted here for those that aren't on Facebook or aren't Maggie's friend/fan. And if you aren't, why aren't you? Okay, so if you aren't on Facebook, I understand. I have a page and I'm not there all that much either. But if you aren't a fan of Maggie's.... well, I just don't know about you then. And if her great book 'Shiver' didn't change your mind, maybe this will. Otherwise maybe we do need to talk here. hmmmmm????

Oh and no, fortunately or unfortunately, haven't decided which yet ;), I'm not Maggie. But I am a fan.
And no I don't believe in telling people what to do - I don't Really! - but you should check her out. Or at least her great, and savvy, advice. So here's some of what I'm talking about that Maggie shares.

Maggie Stiefvater (Really, it's me): Quick & Dirty Guide to Getting Published

Maggie Stiefvater (Really, it's me)'s Notes
Quick & Dirty Guide to Getting PublishedShare
Today at 6:32am
I get asked a lot if it's difficult to become an author, so here is my very abbreviated rundown of the process. I'm also going to try to format it prettily so I hope that works.

1. Read. The more you read, the better you'll be as an author. Good novels are your text books. I'm always very suspicious of someone who tells me they want to be a writer but can't tell me five books they've read recently. Read, read, read!

2. Write. A lot. Write all the time. When you're not reading, practice writing. The odds of your first novel being good enough to publish is pretty darn slim. I started writing when I was in my teens and had 30 (horrible) novels written by the time I was in college. But I certainly didn't try to get most of those published. They were just practice and I knew it.

3. Rewrite. The rough draft is just the beginning. No matter how wonderful you think it is, put it down for two weeks -- don't let yourself read it or think of it. Read lots of novels in between. Then come back to it, and slice and dice. Use index cards to write down the scenes, mix them up, see if you need new ones, see if two characters could be made into one to be more efficient, make sure your protagonist is gripping from the beginning. Writing is the fun part. Rewriting is when it becomes a BOOK.

4. Be Honest. With yourself. Are you really ready to be published? You want to make sure that the first novel you send out there is amazing. Don't be discouraged if it's not. As long as you work hard, keep plugging along, keep learning, it's "when" not "if."

5. Google. Be Knowledgeable. Everything you need to know about the publishing process is available online at blogs, websites, and on publisher sites. You'll be competing against writers who have done all their research to make sure everything is formatted properly, so don't be the one that gets tossed aside for looking unprofessional. I have links to sites that I like on my website, on the links page.

4. Query. The next stage is querying. A query is a one page letter describing your novel -- and this is the only thing that you will send agents, who are the people who will represent your novel to publishers. Most of the big publishers will not look at queries from unagented authors. They count on the agents to weed out the ones that aren't ready yet. You can find agents that represent your kind of books at Agent Query. And you can find my recommendations about query letters on my blog here.

5. Be Patient. And keep your spirits up. Be prepared for a lot of "no"s. I have hundreds of them. The fact is, you might not be ready. Or you might not be that agent's cup of tea. You may need to revise more. This part is fun, not stressful. If you're getting a lot of form rejections -- letters back that just say "dear author, not for us" it means you need to revise your query to be more appealing. If you're getting requests for partial manuscripts and then rejections, it means you need to revise your manuscript. Take all requests and suggestions for the wonderful, free advice that they are. And remember, it's a process, it takes a long time, and it's fun. It's also not a gamble -- good novels WILL get requests. It's not whether or not you send it on a Monday or include hershey's kisses with your submission.


There are many, many scam artists out there. Agents should never ask for money up front -- they get their money when they sell your book, and that's it. A publisher that asks you to pay them is called a vanity publisher, and while there are reasons to pay to get ar book published (for example, a cookbook your church is doing for a fundraiser), there is NO reason to pay for your novel, your work of fiction, published. Publishers pay their authors, not the other way around.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Great Writers Workshop, Spread the Word

EGADS! This has been sitting in my file – cleverly titled ‘Blog Posts,’ or if I’m really ambitious, it’s in the ‘Previous Blog Posts’ file. Yeah, I’m so original. Not to mention not as ambitious as I have been since it’s been there awhile I guess. But I’m going to post it anyway since this workshop was really good and I don’t want anyone that has a chance to go to one in the future to miss it!!! So this is your heads up, or warning!

I am always amazed at the generosity and sharing of published authors. How willing they are to Make time to help beginning writers. Even while doing writing and researching of their own, and all they have to do nowadays to sell their books. They are still incredibly generous and helpful. Amazing.

One such writer is Steve Berry. New York Times bestselling author…etc…etc… Check out his website for all the accolades.

But Definitely go there and check out his site for his Writers Workshops – and he even donates all the money from them!!!

The Library of Virginia in Richmond recently had one of Steve’s Writers Workshops and I am really sorry if you missed it. Since it was a good one no matter where you are in the stages of your writing, from beginning, to middle, to more established. I was surrounded by all stages, and they were all asking questions and writing notes. Okay so I was really busy writing notes, a Lot of them, since I am, as of yet, unpublished. But others were too. Published and soon to be published they were also writing down notes.

Steve takes on the basics of writing with his part of the workshop. Yes, as he sees it. But he still has some great ideas and thoughts. He’s a very clever man, Steve is.

Especially since he’s hooked a very clever woman with his wife Elizabeth. A very cute package with the added addition of a very sharp and savvy brain. Quite a package. [including shoes and purses. ;) But it cleaned Steve’s books up. ;) She found mistakes she got shoes and purses. See I told you, clever woman. ;) ] The woman is a whiz with the numbers game of selling books. She leads the second part of the workshop. And does it very well.

See I told you, he’s a very clever guy.

She’s great. I wish All writers had at least one of her!! I don’t think much phases her – oh except the Eiffel Tower, but that’s a story best left for their telling ;) – but I think we all disconcerted Steve a little at times with our deer-in-the-headlights-not-sure-what-question-to-even-ask looks. But it was a lot of good information. No matter where you are in the pecking order of writer-to-published writer chain of things.

And there were plenty of moans [quietly though so Steve wasn’t disconcerted again] from us all, from the ‘egads I need to look at that in my story’ [ok, yeah that was me] to ‘oh my, I need to do another look for that as I edit.’

This was a comment from soon-to-be published Ellen Brown over some of the great advice Steve had on edits and editing.

So while you’re there on Berry’s site check out the article on Berry by Richmond’s and JRW’s own, and new JRW Board member, Ellen Firsching Brown, who has a book of her own coming out. [which she is in deep edits with, and looking at again with renewed vigor thanks to Steve’s tips.]

Ellen Firsching Brown is a freelance writer specializing in stories about antiquarian books. She is co-writing a book about the publishing history of Gone With the Wind, to be published by Taylor Trade in January 2011.

Or just check out this link -

And Don’t forget to check out and buy Steve’s books, they are worth a read. Both my husband and I enjoy Steve’s books and almost have a complete collection of them. - correction – we cleaned up our book stacks weekend or so ago and discovered we Did have complete collection, in different stacks. Had three of one book. Ah, well. Steve’s books are always interesting. No matter how many we have of them. And we already spread the contag…er, we cordially gave one of the copies to a friend that is a rabid collector of Another author [that will remain nameless].

Hey, You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong about books.

Or writerly stuff. And Steve and Elizabeth said they would Love to come back to Richmond next year and do another workshop. So hopefully if we clamor enough they’ll be back to do another one. I’d go again. Hopefully my eyes won’t look so deer-like next time.

So keep your eyes open.

And spread the word.

You don’t even have to mention you heard it here – but that’d be okay. ;-D

Friday, March 5, 2010

Personal stories, advice…and a bit of fun

Okay so since it’s Friday. And been rather a ‘tense’ week. I thought I’d put this out there for those of you that have been having ‘tense’ weeks of your own.

I get email blog stuff from agent Chip McGregor [no he’s not my agent but he is of one of the members of James River Writers]

[I’m always researching / collecting agents for when I’m finally ready for that though, hopefully by end of year, so if you have a Really good one to share let me know!]

and his latest has to do with writing or helping with personal stories. So if any of you are in that type of situation, or might potentially find yourself in one, you might want to check out this blog first –

if you just want a snicker or two to lighten the load today just check it out for his great humor here. That’s what I came away with.

And I didn’t even have to pee my pants. ;-D
Check out the blog for that reference – it’s funny. At least I thought it was. And this is my blog. ;)

Er, I’m not sure I want to know if you wet your pants or not.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Follower of Rules? Or a Drifter of Rules?

Man, I never realized people had such a ‘thing’ with rules! Okay, granted I’m not enamored by rules by any means. But even with my ‘personal code,’ I recognize there are ‘Rules’ and then there are ‘rules.’ I mean I follow the Rules – go the speed limit, do not speed. Of Course I Don’t speed! I don’t lie! Don’t cheat either. Don’t steal. Don’t kill. Okay so as a writer I might get around to that with a character or two – and No I’m not Telling, you’ll just have to wait and read! And no, don’t hold your breath. That’s not going to help you and really, I can’t see you. You might could tell me in the comments though. ;)

I believe in following rules like marriage vows and promises – and no, I did not promise to love, honor, obey, etc… We had ‘special’ vows. I mean really, did you expect anything less? Really? Just read my blog here. Uhm, okay, so maybe it should reflect my personality a bit more? Or not? ;)

I’m talking, or babbling depending on your view, about the previous blog post on writer’s rules link I posted. And just because something says ‘writer’ doesn’t mean it Couldn’t apply to others. Right?

So a friend sent me the link. And I definitely should mention here since another friend, thanks Denise, thought I had posted them all – since I had such a Long and wordy post, obviously I could use some work on editing. – and NO that’s only a Few of the ‘rules’ from the list.
So you should go and look at it yourself. Especially since obviously what stood out to me didn’t strike the same response in others.
Like Work-In-Progess blog write, Author Leslie Pietrzyk, posted –
Writing Rules, and Writing RULES!
Posted: 24 Feb 2010 06:36 AM PST
I love lists, and I love lists of writing “rules.” Taken with a grain of salt—(as one of my teachers used to say, “The only rule in writing is to be interesting”)—such pithy advice can offer guidance, open your mind, and sometimes speak exactly to a problem of the moment.
Here’s a great two-piece article in which Elmore Leonard offers his ten rules for writing, followed by more writers riffing on that list, adding their suggestions.
Just a quick sample of the range of advice:
Roddy Doyle: “Do not place a photograph of your favorite author on your desk, especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.”
Anne Enright: “Only bad writers think that their work is really good.”
Richard Ford: “Try to think of others’ good luck as encouragement to yourself.”
(Thanks to Perpetual Folly for the link. And if these types of proscriptive lists make you crabby, you’ll be interested in the discussion over at The Elegant Variation.)

A Lot of people evidently have Very Strong Opinions on rules! Or 'rules' on rules. Zowie. I didn’t realize there would be so much ..uh, discussion…on it. I mean yeah, ‘Rules,’ but ‘rules’ – uhm, I can distinguish between the two. And choose on the ‘rules’ what I Might want to follow. Or not. [Remember I already told you I follow the ‘Rules’ like speed limit.] I am a drifter of those that aren’t ‘Rules’ just ‘rules.’ I guess I do think of the ones put in this list mere ‘suggestions’ rather than rules. They are interesting and thought-provoking perhaps but something I ‘have’ to follow… uh, Why? So I drifted them.

But this list provoked some definite reactions in some people. How about you?

What ‘rules’ of the list did you like? Dislike? Reacted strongly to?

You a rule follower, or a drifter?