Wednesday 31 October 2012

Blog hop Reminder

Just a reminder that next week is the 'I'm Thankful for my Readers' blog hop which Tara and I are running.

Go here for the info.

I know everyone may be Nano busy but it shouldn't take long to join in. Prep you post tonight! Take that break for a few mins next week to check out others posts, after all our readers and crit partners help keep us sane, especially during times like Nano!

Please do sign up if you haven't already and thanks to those who are joining in!

This post was brought to you from my mobile phone app so if links don't work or it looks funny that's why. If it looks ok it may herald a new world of phone posts from me :)

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Nano: Buddy up and Encouragement?

I have signed up for Nano! Are you? Anyone done it before and have any tips?

 If you are Nanoing please tell me your name on the site so we can 'buddy up'. I am Viklit there. Just sorting out my profile etc. I am going to use this to get up to date with current projects I hope.

 Does the blogosphere go quiet as everyone Nanos?

Anyone have any encouragement for us all? Nervous?

Let's encourage each other in the comments and if successful/people want I could put another post up during Nano for keeping us going encouragement purposes.

 Does 'nano' make anyone else think of Mork and Mindy? Nanu Nanu everyone :)

Thursday 18 October 2012

If Writing is Subjective, How Do I Improve?

I recently took part in an event that brought it home to me how subjective writing is. I was a finalist in a local book festival for a piece of 250 word flash fiction. 12 of us read out our pieces, and we voted for a winner.

All these pieces were 'good', however you want to judge good. They were tight, they followed their character's POV or their theme through, they contained deft imagery and interesting description.

You know what? I liked some of them more than others. There were pieces on flying machines, sister-in-laws coveting their brother-in-law, anecdotes about grandchildren and stories of an understudy going on stage. Yes, interesting writing and a 'good writer' will hold my interest on any topic, but I have little interest in flying machines to begin with. However well written his piece was, however much it held my interest, I was naturally more predisposed to like the piece about the understudy because it was more 'my thing.'

I only had a couple of votes to cast, so however great the flying machines piece was, *it did not get my vote*. The grandchild anecdote was funny, so everybody voted for that in droves. (This has really made me think about the role of humour in my writing - I tend to write fast paced, thriller type pieces - can those be funny too? Can I be funny? *pulls face*)

I realised this is exactly what agents face. They have tons of submissions and some of them, yes, can be dismissed because they see the writing as weak or the character unbelievable or the plot makes no sense.

But some of it? Just isn't their thing, and however interesting you  make it, they aren't going to take it. They only have a couple of votes.

I often see people say that writing is subjective, and I agree that there is no magic level of writing that will guarantee you an agent or publication of any kind. Luck comes into it.

But having been to this event, I do realise how a well written piece about flying machines held my interest more than a badly written piece would have. Even if it didn't get my vote. I do know how useful writing advice on websites has been, and from critique partners, in improving my own writing. I do feel like my writing gets 'better' whatever better is, and however subjective that is.

What do you think? Do you welcome writing advice? If it is all subjective how do you know what's 'good' and 'bad'?

And can I make my thrillers funny? Anyone know a good joke?

Monday 15 October 2012

New in YA: Mashups?

I recently read this great article  in Publishers Weekly, on Mashups being new in YA. It says that having something that sells on multiple angles works very well. They give the example of Sci Fi with romantic tension, and historical meets paranormal.

Are you writing something with multiple angles?

What genres would you love to mashup? Or what elements? (Cyborgs meet Zombies? Time Travel meets Aliens?) 

I am also aware that the new TV show 'Wizards vs. Aliens' by Russell T. Davies is out too, which is a great mashup.

Personally I love superheroes or time travel with anything. Dystopian would work well mixed with historical, or time travel or something different. Steampunk meets romance?

Any suggestions?

Friday 12 October 2012

Who's Doing Nanowrimo? Should I?

Who is doing Nanowrimo?

I am trying to decide whether to sign up. I Fast Drafted big chunks of two ideas lately (I talk about Fast Draft here) and would love to use Nano to get one finished (I have 30-40k left) and play about with a Middle Grade idea I have.

However, that took a lot out of me and I am not sure I could keep up the pace for November.

Thoughts anyone?

I don't want to be dispirited by not finishing but I guess I could have a push then have December not writing and just critiquing for people. Hmm.

Also thank you to anyone who has signed up for Tara and my 'I'm Thankful to my Readers Bloghop'. Even if you are Nanoing, it wouldn't take up much time to join in ;)

Monday 8 October 2012

I’m Thankful For My Readers Bloghop!

Tara Tyler and I are getting a head start on the November blogfest season. I know Nano is happening but this won't take up much time :)

The theme of the blog hop is ‘I’m Thankful for My Readers’. Tara's post on it is here.

We’d like everyone to post their thanks, in as creative a way as possible, to their readers.This can take whatever form you like - be creative and use your imagination.

These readers can be critique partners, beta readers, blog readers and readers of published novels, as part of one big bloghop! I’m sure everyone thanks their readers, but we thought it would be awesome if we all did at once and we can hop around and revel in the love ;)

This was partly inspired by valerie lawson’s post here where she wrote a letter to her critique group, and also by the fact Thanksgiving is coming up!

Here’s the rules folks:

1.Sign up on the linky list below.
2. Post thanks to your readers on your blog between Monday November 5 (anytime) and Wednesday November 7 by 1700 UK/1200 Midday EST US time.
3. If you don’t have a CP and you would like, go ahead and post a ‘personals’ ad.
4. Be CREATIVE. Write a letter, a piece of flashfiction, a haiku, poem, or vlog. It can take whatever form you like. We’d like it if you kept it under 300 words but won’t be counting.
5. You don’t have to name your readers though do if you want, and feel free to link to them.
6. Hop around and comment on other people’s!

We have a button, please do go ahead and grab it! Also it would be lovely if you'd please advertise this blog hop!

There will be prizes: Tara and I will each pick a winner, and another overall winner, to be announced on Thursday November 8 on our blogs. They win:

Vikki’s Winner: A Reader’s Report style Critique (i.e. overview write up giving thoughts on your MS, will read whole MS), chosen for most heartfelt post
Tara’s Winner: A Banner for their blog, chosen for most creative post
Overall Winner: Both of the above, for most heartfelt and creative post!

I like to think my critique would be helpful and more to the point, Tara’s got mad art skills so that’s an AWESOME prize! I want it myself. Though of course I can’t win ;) But whoever wins that is lucky lucky lucky.

Lastly - for anyone on twitter I thought it would be fun if during the same period we tweeted thanks using the hashtag #thankstomyreaders. Not as part of the bloghop/prizes, just for additional fun. Am vixatthemovies there.

Please sign up using the linky list and go visit Tara's blog here and say hello to her too!

My entry for the bloghop- here

Wednesday 3 October 2012

IWSG: Dedication is what you need

(First off - I have a pitch being critiqued for Hook Line and Sinker over at Kat Ellis's blog so please do go visit and let me know what you think!).

Secondly, onto the business of the day: Insecure Writers Support Group.

Anyone from the UK and of a particular age is hopefully now humming the theme to Record Breakers, having read my title. For anyone not familiar, we had a programme back in the day, where people tried to break records. You know the type, smashing the most bricks or hooping the most hula hoops, etc. The theme was that dedication is what you need to break that record. Working hard and picking yourself up when you are 2 bricks short, then 1 brick short, then possibly failing, still.

It's what you need to be a writer too. Not just dedication to get the story out, but dedication to pick yourself up after rejections. When you don't make that contest cut or the agent sends a form rejection, dedication makes us pick ourselves up and try again.

It also seems to be that often in life, success is indeed that 99% perspiration.

Often after rejection we think it is because we aren't 'good enough'. Which is mad, because how you measure 'good' I don't know. Or indeed 'success'. Getting an agent? A contract? Selling X many books? It never ends. Whatever your aim and however you are going to define success, I bet there'll be something else to work for even when you get there.

Dedication is what will get us to any of our goals. Dedication is what can make us strive onward, to write something new or rewrite something old. Dedication makes us send that query out again.

So if you are feeling insecure or down or like you aren't 'good enough' or 'successful enough' or any of those subjective words: I wish you luck and dedication because I think what's needed is a bit of both. And I'll join you as we try and break those 2 more bricks.

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Word Count: What's appropriate?

I have been reading a lot of competition entries lately and see varying word counts on the summaries.

I am curious to know: what do you think are the limits for a word count for a debut author seeking representation? I am specifically talking YA but if anyone wants to weigh in with NA/MG/Adult ideas, do.

For YA I have gone by the rule of thumb greater than 60k and less than 100k are a good spot to aim for. Shorter or longer than that raises flags, was my understanding.

I got this useful link (thanks to EllieWrites who linked to it) which says:

MG: 25-40k (average 35)
YA: 45-80k for mainstream, up to 120 for paranormal but under 100 best.

They have guidelines for adult genres too if you are interested. It is just one ex-agent's take, but interesting.

It seems to be for MG 35/40k and for YA 60/70k are safe word counts to 'aim for' and that genre may make a difference.

ETA: The best word count is the minimum you need to *tell your story* without being overlong and without leaving out key factors, of course. I am talking here I guess about a) whether too short/long hinders you getting representation and b) whether having a too short/long MS should raise a red flag to you that you perhaps haven't cut enough or put enough in....?

Any opinions? Do you plan for a specific word count when you start? Do your books always come out the same? Do you add if your YA is say 45k or cut if it's 120k?

Interested to know!

Monday 1 October 2012

#writemotivation & Fast Draft Report & Revisions

Over the past few weeks I have been taking part in #writemotivation, aided by Fast Draft, as I mentioned in my post here.

My #writemotivation goal was 25000 words in September and I wrote 55000 (over two ideas) so I think I succeeded in that one ;)

I was taking part in Candace Havens Bootcamp and I thought you might be interested to know how I found it.

The aim has been to write 5k words a day over 2 weeks. We had a planning week first (which really helped) and are about to revise for a week. If I had succeeded in 5k a day for 2 weeks I would have 70k now. I didn't. 55000 averages to 3928 words a day.

I discovered:

  • The importance of butt in chair time. Because my 'aim' was more words than I usually do in a day, I found more time in the day. I squeezed in half an hour here, and stayed up later there.
  • The importance of motivation. Because we were all doing it together, encouraging each other, I felt motivated to succeed.
  • The importance of planning - I plan anyway -  and I did realise how much of a help it is for me in getting the words out.
  • Drafting quickly helped me maintain the voice/plot in my head easier, without lots of going back over things.
  • That 5k/day was too much for me. 3k is probably my 'sweet spot' where I can rely on the words to be okay and over this they were starting to be pedestrian. Given that my usual daily word count would have been 1-2k, this has shown me what is possible.
  • That it's okay in a 1st Draft to make a note and carry on. If I had forgotten something or wanted to change something I merely added a comment, and carried on. Now in my first revision I'll deal with those. This helped me maintain the flow.
Overall this has been a very positive experience. I don't believe in word count over everything, and if I had felt that I was really producing rubbish I would feel negatively about this. But you know what? I didn't. Okay the last few paragraphs of the day were always pedestrian and need work, but that was the point where I allowed myself to stop. I didn't achieve the overall 70k aim but I achieved a heck of a lot more than I would have in 2 weeks otherwise!

The aim of getting words out every day really propelled me forward. I have become more disciplined in finding time and writing every day. I am going to carry that on as I a) finish my stories and b) revise.

Which brings me to revision! How much revision to do? How do you approach it? Revision Motivation Club anyone? :)

I asked a similar question before about editing and got interesting answers and I ask again now ;)