Sunday, December 30, 2012

Change in the New Year

2013 is fast approaching, but I don't have to tell you that.  Chances are you're already looking ahead to the new year and wondering what the hell is going to happen.  You might be making resolutions.  You could be outlining your goals.  Of course, you could also be living in abject terror about the year ahead. 

What am I going to do?  What if this year is like last year and I still don't get any further?  What if I reach 12/31/13 and I'm in the same place I am today?  Arrgghh!!

Thinking like that can utterly stall you.  Been there, done that.

It's easy enough to say 'don't think like that', but sometimes you can stop yourself.  The old worries - the 'squirms', if you will - creep up and take over.  And this time of year is harder than most.  The pressure to perform is particularly heavy right now.  The year is beginning anew and things should probably change for the better in the coming twelve months.  Right? 

It reminds me of an old joke:  How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?  Just one, but it has to really want to change.

And an old maxim: If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

To make things better than what you've got right now, you've got to change something.  Change occupations.  Change your diet.  Change addresses.  Change the way you approach your writing.  Whatever it is you want a different outcome for requires you to change something.

Sure, sometimes we can do everything we know how to do to make a change and the outcome ends up being the same.  But at the end of the year we can at least know we tried.  Right?

I have a couple of friends who, every year, pick a word that will highlight their year.  One of them had 'Focus' as her word for 2012.  And she used that word as a reminder of what she wanted for herself.  This year I already know my word is going to be CHANGE. 

What about you?  Is there something in your life you could do differently to achieve a more positive outcome than the one you're facing?  What changes have you made that turned out well for you?

And finally, what word do you want to describe your 2013?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Check This Out

My friend, Natalie Murphy, has a great and timely post over at The Sound of Rain: Ten Things to Keep in Mind When Writing Your New Year's Resolutions.  She's got some awesome suggestions for those of you in mind to make resolutions or even those trying to put together a list of goals for 2013.

It's the first in a two-post series, so I'll try to come back and post the link when she puts up the second part.

And there it is... Part Two.   Read 'em both.


If one of your goals for 2013 is to join a writing group, the Query Tracker Blog has posted an awesome Field Guide to Writing Groups.  I'll definitely be exploring writing groups in my own way in the future, but this is the best explanation I've seen otherwise. Almost makes me want to go join a group again.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Survival Tip #3: Overcoming the Not-Writing Guilt

I don't know about all y'all but I didn't touch any of my manuscripts over the holiday.  Well, at least nothing got done Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  I'm such a slacker.  I should've been writing instead of watching The Muppet Christmas Carol.  I could've been writing during that Santa Clause marathon.   Maybe a few pages would've been edited if I spent less time enjoying the holiday and more time utilizing... well, my time.

What it all boils down to is this: I feel guilty when I don't write.

I know I shouldn't.  Writers should get the chance to have a life, too.  But as an unpublished writer, I should be working extra hard to get my books finished and out there in the world.  I'll never get published if I don't put in the time.  Right?

I feel guilty when I let the holidays distract me.  I feel guilty when some unforeseen emergency pulls me away from my work.  I feel guilty when my health effects my writing.

Okay, so maybe this isn't the Survival Tip is ought to be.  Lord knows I haven't been able to overcome the guilt yet.  My notepad and pen sat next to me for two days, staring at me with accusing eyes.  I should've done something

Maybe the only way to overcome the guilt is to just accept that there are going to be times when you don't write, can't write, or won't write.  Holidays are to be enjoyed.  Emergencies are to be dealt with.  And writing when you're sick doesn't do anyone any good.  We should all give ourselves the time we need without the guilt overwhelming us afterwards (or during as is sometimes the case).

So now I leave it up to you.  What do you do to combat the not-writing guilt?  Or are you one the rare birds who can walk away from the work and not feel guilty about it?  If so, how do you do it?

Monday, December 24, 2012

No Guest Today

I don't have a guest post for today.  With the holidays upon us and 2013 fast approaching, we've all got enough to do.  Thanks for stopping by, though, and look for more guests in the New Year.

And if you're interested in contributing to The Guide this coming year, please drop me a note either here in comments or via email, Facebook message or Twitter.  I'd love to have your thoughts to post and your wisdom to share with the unpublished writers of the world.  (Lord knows there's enough of us.)

I hope the holidays bring all that you hope for, that all your wishes come true this time of year and that 2013 rocks for all of you.

-B.E. Sanderson

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Oldie but a Goodie - Reflections from One Writer

Here's a post from my very first blog (the original Writing Spectacle) - back when I was new and untarnished.  I'm a little more jaded now, but I think the words still apply and I don't know about any of you, but I needed to read them.

Reflections From One Writer (first posted 12/5/06)

After weeks, or months or years, sitting at your keyboard trying to get a story out of your head, you type those most wonderful words: The End. You’ve finished your first book! You feel like dancing around the house (and maybe you do, just because you can). You open a bottle of champagne (or a beer, or a bottle of Boones Farm) and bask in the glow of being amongst the few who started writing a book and actually finished it. Feeling pretty proud of yourself, you strut around your house like a god. (And why not? You should be damned proud of yourself because you have accomplished a great feat.)

But eventually, the inevitable question arises: What now?

Maybe you pick up The Writer’s Market and start attaching sticky notes to every agent who looks like they might represent you. You know you aren’t really sure what you’re doing, but you shrug and pick the one absolutely perfect agent who is certain to love your book as much as you do.

You read a little bit about what the agent wants you to send, mainly because you know there’s got to be some kind of procedure for this. Then you think to yourself: What in gods’ name is a query? You shrug and put together a reasonable looking business letter, and mail it off with a return envelope. (Assuming you’ve figured out what SASE stands for, that is.) Time passes and your envelope comes back. Your heart swells with expectation, never thinking its contents could be anything but glowing praise, only to find a nice letter inside telling you while your work isn’t for them, they’re sure you’ll find an agent in no time.

Bruised but not broken, you whip out your big book of agent names, and pick a few more. After all, Perfect Agent was sure one of his brethren would snap you right up. Same letter, different names and off they go into the blue box on the corner. And you wait.

A few more days (weeks, etc.) pass and all your little envelopes find their ways home with more rejections—all pretty much worded the same as the first. More queries go out; more rejections come back. You kick yourself, and cry a little maybe. You throw your big book of agents across the room, and curse the day they were born. You go through all the phases of loss: Anger, Denial, etc. until you get to the inevitable Acceptance.

You suck. Now you're cursing the day you were born.

Weeks go by, and dust covers your keyboard. You thought your words glowed like the sheen of love on a young girl’s face. Now you just think you’re a hack.

Finally, however, your creative juices reach their boiling point. You can’t take it anymore; you can’t NOT write, so you sit back down at your computer. You start writing your next book.

But your confidence is toast. When you started out the last time, you knew without a doubt that you could write. There was nothing to it, and the words flowed out of your fingers like a dam had burst somewhere along the Colorado River. Now, it’s like Death Valley.

Hopefully, a little light bulb goes off over your head. When you first started writing—way back when you were in 2nd grade and your teacher made you write about your summer vacation—you were learning how to put words together to make some kind of cohesive story. It was a learning process then; it is a learning process now.

Hopefully, a little voice in your head tells you to figure out what went wrong with the last book. You do some research. You pick a whole new list of agents who really do represent your genre. You find out what a real query letter looks like. You find out how to write something called a hook. You read everything you can get your grubby little hands on. When you’ve learned everything there is to know about the business, you try again.

In the meantime, maybe you realize your writing, as wonderful as it is, needs some fine tuning and a little more polish. While revising and editing your first book, you keep writing your second book, tweaking and shining until it really does glow. A short story or two come to mind, and you pour those words onto the paper while you mull over your novels.

You never quit. Because NOT writing would be like not breathing.

Maybe you’re still waiting for your acceptance letter to come. Maybe it’s waiting in line behind another slew of rejections. Or perhaps, it’s waiting because you just haven’t queried the right agent yet. But no matter what happens, if you’ve done your work, you have done your best to kick the obstacles out of your way. And you can come to realize no matter what has happened or will happen...

You are a writer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Survival Tip #2 - One Size Does Not Fit All

I've said it before in varying posts over the years, but I think it's something that needs to be said again. 

There is no right way to write.

Over the past eight+ years, I've heard a lot of advice on how to write.  Be a Plotter.  Be a Pantser.  Write early.  Write late.  Write every day.  Write when the muse strikes you.  Dress like you're going to a job so you get in the work mindset before you start to work.  Wear something that makes you comfortable when you work so you're not feeling constricted.


And the people giving this advice make it sound like it's set in stone.  (Or at least that's how a fledgling writer can take it when their back's against the wall and they're looking for a way to make this writing thing work.)

There is no right way to write. What works for one person might not work for the next.  And what works for Stephen King or Nora Roberts or Stephanie Meyer (not that any of them are saying their way is the right way) might not work for you.

Now that's not to say that you shouldn't experiment with ways to write - at least until you find the one that works for you.  Nope.  I'm all about trying new things.  I've also discovered the courage to dump advice when it doesn't work for me.  That whole plotting thing?  Doesn't work for me.  And I found out the hard way. 

Years ago, when I was struggling with the tidal wave of rejections from my first book, I decided to hunt down advice on how to write so that I could get published.  One such piece said that books NEED to be plotted out or they don't work.  So I plotted my second book.  And for me, plotting took the fun right out of it.  I knew what was going to happen and therefore I didn't feel any urgency for actually getting the book written.  Been there done that, not interested in going there again. 

And it's a pretty flat book for the most part.

But that's me.

Plotting is not my process.  And process, like most of the garments marked thus, is a 'one size does not fit all' thing.

So take the advice you read and hear - both out there in the blogosphere and in books and magazines on the subject - and decide what works for you.  And if none of it works for you, it's perfectly acceptable to make up your own rules*.  Whatever gets you to THE END with a good, well-written story that you're proud of.

What's some 'one size fits all' advice you found didn't work for you?

* the exception here is the rules of good English.  Learn those well.  Once you have the grammar and spelling rules down, you'll know which ones you can break to make your work better.  ;o)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guest Post: "The Unpublished Pit of Despair" by Janet S. Corcoran

The Unpublished Pit of Despair*...

You know the one - dark and musty, scattered with over-edited pages of your brilliant manuscript, ripe with the scent of anxiety and heartache! We've all been there, some of us longer than others!

I believe my wallowing in the pit lasted about five years. Oh, the first couple of years weren't so bad - I wrote some stuff (never finished), rewrote that brilliant manuscript, queried and queried, and completed some short stories. Then, the weight of 'unpublished' took its toll. I became embittered about the whole process. I questioned my reasons for writing. I let the rejections suck the life out of me*.

And one day, I stopped writing.

I still talked writing, but as they say, I wasn't walking the walk. The Pit of Despair was winning and I considered myself a fraud. I seriously considered giving up writing. Forever!

But a beacon of light called NaNoWriMo stirred my lifeless body. The Miracle Pill* that would bring back my true love, my passion for storytelling. Don't get me wrong, it didn't happen overnight and I certainly had my doubts. So I went into the project with a couple of self-imposed rules - a healthy dose of realism was necessary if I were to ever be free of the Pit of Despair.

1. I would write a crazy, over-the-top story. Crazy over-the-top stories have a way of writing themselves and my expectations for publication would be taken off the table (as opposed to setting out to write a medieval romance, my genre of choice).
2. I would find a willing reader to send every day's section to keep me accountable and focusing on the beacon of light versus the hole I had suddenly found warm and comfortable.
3. I would tell a story - not write a book, not search for the perfect sentence and certainly not sniff any of that fairy dust that brings visions of multi-book deals and agent auctions.
4. I would have fun storming the castle*!

There were moments when I started seeing stars and I had to tamp down that 'publishing' expectation. I had to stick with the plan to write for the sake of writing. To renew my love of storytelling! I ended up writing the 50,000 words, ended up finishing the story (a huge defeat over the Pit of Despair) and I found my happy place!

This is the Unpublished Survival Guide and, I think, my best tool in my survival toolkit (lesson learned recently) is to do what I love. You all know the saying "Do what you love, the money will follow." But it's not about the money, it's about the happiness and joy. If you're in the Pit of Despair, worrying about publishing, trends, rejections, accolades, you're not pursuing your true love. First and foremost, write for you - for your joy and happiness. That's the Happily Ever After I had been missing!

Please tell us your Pit of Despair stories or share with your best tool in your 'unpublished survival toolkit'. Those who are published, maybe you can share with us your best tool in your 'published survival toolkit'. And any reference to The Princess Bride is gladly welcomed!

Janet S. Corcoran - an unpublished storyteller who has rekindled her love of writing. She blogs on a daily basis at and is happy to be back in her writing chair!

*Reference: The Princess Bride - one of my favorite movies!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Blog Worth Following

If you're not following New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. in the blogosphere, You're missing out.  They do this really helpful question and answer thing, where they invite people to ask questions about the industry.  Their answers are awesome.  Definitely worth a read through and, even though they sometimes fill up my blogroll with their posts, it's definitely a must-follow blog. 

You never know when they might answer the question that's been on your mind.  Like yesterday's questions of whether it's better to wait until February to query because of the holidays (and the post holiday query tsunami), and when you've got fulls out and one agent requests revisions, should you let the other agents know?

Good stuff.

Go forth and stalk.

If you could ask an agent any one question, what would it be?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Check This Out - Dealing With Failure

This morning agent Rachelle Gardner did an excellent post over at the Books & Such Literary Agency blog called 5 Ways to Deal with Failure.  Definitely something all of us need to keep in mind - especially when the rejections are pouring in.

What about you?  How do you deal with failure? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shared Misery is Lessened Misery

Or something like that. 

Anyway, I don't know about you, but I loathe editing.  And guess what?  So does multi-published author Carrie Vaughn (author of the popular Kitty Norville series, as well as so many other awesome novels).  Stop by her post over at Genreality: The Revision Slog and share the pain.

Or leave a comment here and talk about how editing makes you feel.  Hate it?  Love it?  Think it's a necessary evil, like I do?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Guest Post: Alexia Chamberlynn talks Contests

You know that movie 27 Dresses, about the woman who’s been a bridesmaid 27 times? Well, that’s like me. Except with writing contests instead of dresses. And I didn’t get to hook up with James Marsden. But before you get confused about my random metaphors, let’s back up a bit.

I knew in my teens that I wanted to be a novelist, but I didn’t get serious about my writing until about four years ago. Ever since then, I’ve been writing and editing and querying and getting rejected by agents, and B.E. was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post. Since I was recently a semifinalist in DL Hammon’s Write Club, we both thought that writing contests would be a fun topic. And when I started thinking about it, I realized I’d been in a LOT of writing contests. Thus the weird movie reference.

Online contests are extremely frequent these days, and it’s for sure one of the huge perks of the blogging community. Many of the new lit agents are happy to participate, and it’s a really cool opportunity to get your work in front of them (outside of the usual slushpile situation) and even get feedback sometimes.  However, you have to be aware of what you’re getting into if you enter a contest. A great number of these are anonymous, and people will criticize you, whether constructive or not. And let’s face it, even if it’s constructive, it still doesn’t taste real great going down, does it? Really though, us writers need tough skin to survive in this industry period. If it’s not peer criticism it’s an agent rejection, and if it’s not an agent rejection it’s a publisher rejection, and once you do get published you’re going to get bad reviews. So, be cautious if you get offended easily, but I encourage you to try anyways to thicken up that skin.

Write Club was super intense, partly because I’ve never gotten that far in a contest before. Two anonymous 500 word excerpts were chosen randomly three times a week and pitted against each other, and whoever got the most votes won. After about six weeks of initial rounds, all the winners started getting paired up in bouts. I managed to make it through five rounds to the semi-finals, one of four people left. In the semi-finals, I got pitted against one of the strongest entries of the whole contest, IMO, and the entry that’s probably going to win the finals. So, I wasn’t ashamed to lose to such a good writer. It definitely sucked though to lose in the last round before the agent/editor round. To imagine that victory and then not quite make it.

All in all though, it was super fun and I met a lot of cool people and got lots of good feedback on my writing. Did defeat stop me? Heck no. Right on the heels of that I’ve entered Pitch Wars, where agented writers coach unagented ones and you polish your work for a panel of agents. I’ll find out about that next week! I guess you can call me a glutton for punishment.

Anyways, the moral of the story: put yourself out there! Be bold! Grow a skin thicker than a dragon! And of course, never, ever give up. I’ll tell you one last thing – when I do get an agent one of these days, it’ll be better than hooking up with James Marsden. Sorry, James.


Alexia writes and reads fantasy books. Except when she’s not, and then she can be found watching movies, eating chocolate, drinking wine, traveling to the next place on her global wish list, or playing Just Dance with her son on the Wii.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Ledge

We've all been there.  Teetering at the edge, up so high there's no way we can safely jump, and we can't see any path to climb back down.

No, I'm not talking about the fiscal cliff.  (Although I can kinda see an analogy there... but we don't do politics at The Guide.)

What I'm talking about is that spot in your writing when it feels like nothing is going right and you can't see where the story you've worked so hard on could ever be going anywhere.  You suddenly want to put all your characters into a plane and crash it, because that's the only possible way to end this mess you've made.

This happens a lot this time of year.  NaNoWriMo forces a ton of writers to put it all out there so quickly that the beginning of December becomes like those cliffs in Africa where all the little birds nest.  Thousands of fledglings clutching the edge - afraid they can't fly, terrified they'll be crushed on the rocky landscape below, and sure as hell uncertain how they ever ended up where they are.

If you're feeling like those little birds, you aren't alone. 

If you're feeling like you're out on a ledge, hanging by a participle, stop for a moment.  You can do this.  You just might need to approach it from a different direction.  Look at it this way: It's not November anymore.  You don't have to sprint to the line.  You can take a moment - revisit the ideas that are all squirreled up in your head. 

Yesterday a friend of mine emailed me from her ledge.  She's working on a romantic suspense.  The majority is written, but she's hanging by her tippy-toes, looking down at the end and wondering how the hell she got where she was.  Plot threads were hanging all around and she couldn't see which one to hold onto to climb to safely.  My suggestion: Notecards.  Put each problem on its own card, and put the possible solution(s) to it on the back.  I think she said it took her two cards before the solution came to her.

As much as I was happy to help, it wasn't the cards that fixed her problem.  She just needed someone to throw her a rope.  She did the climbing.

And sometimes that's all you need to get off the ledge.  A rope.  A hand.  A friendly ear to listen to you vent.  Sometimes just putting your problems into words by telling someone else about them helps solve them.  And sometimes - when there's no one available - you can get yourself down off the ledge by taking a step sideways and looking at the ledge from a different perspective.

How about you?  You know you've visited the ledge a time or two.  Talk about your experiences and share how you got down.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Check This Out - Doing Enough

This morning on Facebook, Karin Tabke said this was 'a must read post', so as soon as I got to it in my blogfeed, I read it.  She was so right.

This morning at Magical Musings, Natalie R. Collins stopped by and talked about the many things she's doing.  I think it's important for all of us unpubs to remember all the things we could be doing to get our work out there.  And for us to remember, when/if we jump into self-publishing, her words to 'clean it up'.  (I don't know if hiring people to do it for us is necessarily necessary, but the idea holds true.)

(And don't mind my double comment over there.  I'm having a brain fart morning and they don't let you delete your own comments.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Survival Tip #1

As I'm working out the details of The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival, I'll be adding new things and seeing how they work.  I like the idea of having guest posters talk about aspects of the journey.  I like the idea of linking to pertinent posts around the web in my 'This Just In' feature.  But last night as I was trying to fall asleep, it occurred to me that something called a Guide to Survival ought to have tips.

So, here's Survival Tip #1*:

Don't Take It Personally

From your first rejection to your last bad review - with all the criticisms that fall in between - you have to remember not to take any of this personally.  And most of the time, the people who are rejecting and reviewing aren't trying to make it a personal thing.

I certainly know that rejections can feel personal.  I'm sure the one JB Lynn talked about in her guest post probably felt intensely personal.  I know the time one of my books made it to a full request only to be rejected - that rejection letter felt personal as hell.

But it wasn't.

In my case, when I went back months later and looked at that rejection, I could tell the agent in question was trying to help me be a better writer.  I don't know what JB's person was thinking, but it was probably some misguided way to prevent JB from getting disappointed.  (Ha, showed the agent, didn't she?)

The point is, taking criticism and rejection personally only hurts you.  Try to look at it objectively.  Take a step back and really look.  Was what the person said valid?  Is it something you can change?  Is it something you're even interested in changing?  If so, use it to make your work better.  If not, thank the person for their time (if only in your head) and move on.  Or plot your revenge and move on.  Whatever works for you.  But move on.  Fix the manuscript being criticized, use the knowledge to help you write the next book even better than the last - as long as you're moving forward.

Yeah, criticism stings.  But as long as you're not taking it personally, the sting fades.

What about you?  Was there ever a rejection or a critique you took too much to heart?  Dish in the comments (but no names - we're not making it personal here either).

* #1 because it's the first, not because it's the most important or the most crucial.  It was just the first one I thought of and it ties in so nicely with this week's guest post.  Sorry the order isn't more scientific.  ;o)

Speaking of guest posts, if you haven't commented yet and therefore entered to win a prize, please get thee hence and do so.  You have until next Monday's post goes up (I don't know when on Monday - so don't leave it until the last minute.)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Guest Post: "This Book Will Never Sell" by JB Lynn

“This Book Will Never Sell”

Now I don’t know about you, but I have that exact thought every time I write a book. (I think it multiple times every single day.)

Then again, if you’re like me, you must believe in a corner of your heart, that it WILL sell, because why else would you put yourself through the torture that is Pursuit of Publication?

When you query an agent, it feels like “not a fit for my list” really means “this book will never sell”. But that’s not what it means because an agent would never say that, right?  Right??


A number of years ago, I had that very thing happen to me.

Now I don’t know about you, but the idea of doing a face-to-face pitch with a literary agent is wayyyyy worse than sending an anonymous query letter. I panic. I get tongue-tied. I babble like a stream during a Spring thaw.

Still, I’m a believer in putting yourself out there in pursuit of your dreams. (If you ask me, it’s a pretty stupid belief.) Following this belief had led me to pitching to agents at conferences. (Yes, it has always been just about as miserable as I imagine it will be.)

Now for the most part, agents are nice people. They love books. They try not to let their eyes glaze over as they listen to poorly-delivered pitch after poorly-delivered pitch. They scribble notes (which may very well be their shopping lists). They drink caffeinated beverages. They suck on lozenges. They use a lot of hand sanitizer.

They smile. They’re polite. They tend to be encouraging, even while they’re rejecting you.

Or, like the agent I pitched to, they look you dead in the eye and say, “This book will never sell.”

She didn’t say she couldn’t sell it. She said it would never sell. To my face.

Once I got over my shock/outrage/depression, I mentally thanked her because she did the best possible thing possible for me. She pissed me off.

I landed another agent (who I later left) with that book and I rewrote it for two different publishing companies before I got that “yes” I’d been pursuing.  Every time I thought I couldn’t take another “no” I remembered how much I wanted to prove that agent wrong and I pushed a little further. THE FIRST VICTIM was published by Carina Press….and no, I didn’t thank the “This book will never sell” agent in my acknowledgments, but I was tempted.

What’s the worst thing you’ve heard as you pursue publication?

She is a compulsive reader, a runner (of sorts), an enthusiastic cook (who doesn't get the appeal of the Food Network), and someone who has an irresistible urge to eavesdrop at all times.
JB has a great love of her husband, dogs, coffee, purple ink, spiral notebooks, running gear, hot showers, and '80s music. Given enough time, all of these things will eventually show up in her books.

Edited to Add:  We didn't plan this but just for kicks this morning, I got a wild idea.  Comment and be entered to win either a hardcopy of Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman - the first book in JB's series - or any one of her Kindle ebooks.  (U.S. only on the ebooks, I think.  They don't let you send those things to other countries - damn them.  And U.S. or Canada only on the hardcopy.  I'm not made of money. :wink:)  Any comment before next Monday's post goes up - one comment per person. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

First Page Critiques and My Hitch

Hi Everyone!

Over at The Writing Spectacle, a couple people commented that I should submit the first page of one of my novels to Casablanca Authors - where Deb Werksman will read & critique every first page submitted and request fulls from the ones that interest her.  The hitch?  (at least a hitch from my standpoint) She wants only Romance or Women's Fiction. 

If you've got those genres, go for it.  Please.  You've really got nothing to lose.

I lose out, though, because I don't write romance.  Oh sure, I have a few romantic elements in my novels, but they have never been the main thrust of the story.  (Pardon the pun.)  It's not my thing.  I've tried.  Really I have, but the romantic threads fall apart or they come off totally lame.  And don't even get me started on my inability to write sex.

Talk about 'insert tab A into slot B'.  Bleh.

I do read romance.  I admire those writers' ability to write believable love stories with plots and strong characters.  My stuff is more like a deflated balloon - all limp and lifeless and just lying there.  (Again, pardon the puns.  I can't help myself.)

So, thanks for the suggestion, ladies, but I'll have to bow out of this one.  Maybe next time.

And please, if you know of any open calls for submission or any free contests unpubs can enter, let me know.  I'll post them here when I learn of them.

Also, if you haven't answered the poll in the upper left yet, please do so.  Thanks so much. 

Finally, remember to stop by tomorrow for The Guide's first guest post.  I'm so excited!  :muppetflail: Yay!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Guide Reader Poll

Hi Everyone!

(Too perky for first thing on a Saturday?  Okay, I'll tone it down.)


I know at this point there are only 5 of you actually following the Guide, but I wanted to do a little 'beginning of the blog' research. So, over there on the left, I set up a little poll to run through the month of December.  All you have to do is pick an option and click VOTE.  It's all anonymous and totally unscientific.

I think I touched on every possible short answer one could give to this question, but if you're in a spot that I didn't cover, let me know in comments.  And by 'published', I don't want to differentiate between 'traditional' and 'indie' and 'self' here. 

And just so no one feels lonely or out of place, I answered first.  I've written several books but am unpublished.

I'll leave the poll up through New Year's Eve, so answer whenever you get a chance.

Thanks for stopping by The Guide and I hope you keep coming back.

Also, watch for our first sooper sekrit guest post on Monday.  It should be awesome. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #9

And we arrive at the last of my NaNo Pitfall posts... I hope you enjoyed them all.

:cue tightrope music:

With tomorrow fast approaching - a little too fast, if you ask me - we come to the ninth and final pitfall of the year...

NaNo Pitfall #9 - The Fine Line

Sure, you've written loads of words.  Hopefully they've worked together and made a somewhat cogent story with coherent characters.  All this time you've been creating, though, you've been walking a fine line between needing to get x-number of words on paper and making those words work as a logical story.

Maybe you plotted the story out ahead of time.  If you did, you probably don't need to read this post.  Your word count and your storyline are probably running parallel.  Congratulations. 

Me?  I rarely plot out anything.  Therefore, the fine line I walk sometimes isn't any thicker than frog's hair.  I'm sure when I look back over those scenes, I'll be asking myself "What the hell were you thinking here?"   Sometimes I'll be able to figure it out.  Other times I'll read a scene and never be able to discern what I was going for.  (Here's hoping this book has more of the former than the latter, eh?)

Why is this a pitfall?  Because as we reach the final words for NaNo and thus the final scenes for our books, we need to be able to remember all those threads we created over the past month and weave them to their natural conclusion. And that, my friends, can totally stop you in your tracks.

Hence, the Pitfall.  See?  I knew I'd wrap it together somehow...

As I was laying in bed last night, once again battling my subconsious for some snooze-time, my brain was racing through all the threads.  With only a few thousand words left, am I absolutely sure I wrapped up the thread about Nigel?  Am I bringing the whole thing with the dog to a logical conclusion?  Is the dastardly killer getting what he deserves or should I insert another twist that will carry through to the subsequent books in the series?  And what about that weirdo being who crept into the fight scene?  Did I really introduce a hint of romance, and what the hell am I going to do about THAT?

Needless to say, my brain was on overdrive and I woke up this morning not knowing what the hell to do with the next few scenes.  I could wrap it all up with a pretty bow for now and fix it later.  On the other hand, I could write a dozen more scenes to explain...  Bleh, I hate reading pages of things the writer should've already explained.  Or, I could stop what I'm doing and go back - rereading and editing until I can finish the end.

See?  This could conceivably stop me in my tracks inches from the finish line.  Will it?  Nah.  I'm just using myself as an example.  If this is happening to you, though, you might not be able to get past this Pitfall without a litte nudge.  Here's what I'm going to do.

Take the bit in my teeth and run like hell.

Probably not the advice you were expecting.  Definitely not the best advice for writing the end of your story any other time of the year.  This is NaNo, though.  Right now, thinking about loose ends is only going to stall your progress.

Am I advocating writing 5000 words of nonsense??  Certainly not.  I mean, it's still going to be part of your story.  What I'm saying is, get the words out and worry about tying it all up later.  That's what editing is for.  So what if I introduced some threads five chapters ago that I now realized I never fully finished?  I'll catch them all when I sit down to edit. 

Sorry if this wasn't the post you were expecting.  I didn't edit this any more than I'm editing my work right now.  Plus, my brain is the equivalent of pumpkin puree.  Maybe soon I'll write a post on the mush my brain turns into after writing so many words in one month. 

Have a great day, everyone.  Tune in tomorrow for what I hope will be a less meandering post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Need a Little Inspiration?

My friend Janet has this weekly thing she does where she posts inspiring quotes.  I think this week's compilation is particularly poignant - especially considering the end of NaNo is fast approaching.

Head on over to soak up some inspirational words from some other amazing authors.  And while you're at it, leave an encouraging comment or two.  =o)

Are you participating in NaNo this year?  How're you doing? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This Just In

This just in from

Weronika Janczuk left agenting.  It seems like cold-turkey.

Without permission, I can't reprint the letter some writers received as a response to their submissions, so if you're interested in the exact verbiage, you need to go here*.  Suffice it to say, her former agency (Lynn C. Franklin Associates) basically told writers who were under submission that they were out of luck and to seek representation elsewhere.  Weronika's twitter page seems to reflect this news as she's changed her profile to 'Former Literary Agent'.

I don't have any more information.  My heart goes out to anyone who had a requested submission with her and to all of her clients.  Good luck in your search.

*You might not be able to see it without signing up for the site, but a basic membership is free, so why not join?  It's a great resource.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Leftovers of Writing

Post the Thanksgiving pig-out time, many of us have leftovers.  Yesterday at the Word Whores, Jeffe Kennedy helps decide what to do with our writing leftovers.

If you're not familiar with Jeffe Kennedy, she's an amazing author of several spicy, erotic novels (most recently Hunting the Siren) and a fantasy that was probably one of my favorite books in 2012: Rogue's Pawn

Personally, I've never used snippets from one project in another project.  What about you?  Have you ever utilized those little writing leftovers to make something new and delicious?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Even Published Writers Get the Squirms

If you're feeling like your muse has run away and you can't put words on paper to save yourself, understand that you aren't alone.  Even published authors get that way sometimes.  Even multiple-published authors...

like Paperback Writer.

If you're not familiar with Lynn Viehl (a.k.a. Paperback Writer, and S.L. Viehl), she's got 47 novels out on the shelves somewhere.  I've read about half of them and they're amazing.  If she can get the squirms and power through them, I don't feel so bad about my little niggles of uncertainty. 

How about you?  Does reading about a published author having the same problems we're having make you feel better or worse about your own situation?  Is it a case of 'misery loves company' or a case of 'shared misery is lessened misery'?

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #8

We're starting the home stretch toward December 1st.  (Where did the year go?)  Time for another installment of my 2009 NaNoWriMo Pitfalls posts. 

NaNo Pitfall #8 - The Physical Wear and Tear of Writing

Today's Pitfall is less mental and more physical...

NaNo Pitfall #8 or "Something so good shouldn't hurt so much"

Yesterday I banged out over 4K words.  Yay!  The only problem with that is this morning my hands are lumps of meat with ten tubes of overstuffed sausage attached.  Not that I'm complaining.  Hurting hands mean I got some real work done, but...

Unfortunately, my brain is still on a roll and my hands don't want to cooperate. Type two words... ouch ouch ouch...  If typing this post is killing me, what's my manuscript going to do?

Hang on a sec, I have to slather myself in Aspercreme™.

Okay, that's better.  I guess what I'm trying to say, especially since this week marks the home stretch of NaNo is: The more you write the higher the probability that something somewhere in your body is going to protest.  Maybe your ass becomes flat and numb.  Maybe your back becomes a tangle of tension. Perhaps you're like me and your fingers balloon up to Mickey Mouse proportions.

Take a pain reliever.  Rub on some creme.  Break out the heating pad or the ice pack.  Promise yourself a long, hot bath after your writing session is over.  Whatever you choose do, though, don't let the pain in your body stifle the story in your head.

And now that the Aspercreme is kicking in, I'm off to write.  Have a great day, everyone.  =o)

(Cross-posted from The Writing Spectacle.)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Abandon Fear All Ye Who Enter

Hi.  I'm B.E. and I've been an unpublished writer since January 2004 - when I began what would become my first novel.  (I don't count all my many failed attempts from 1984 until then.)  I've been blogging about my trials and tribulations since December of 2006.  If you're totally new to me and my crazy antics, Welcome.  If you've come over from my main blog - The Writing Spectacle - grab a cup of coffee and stay awhile.

This new endeavor chiseled its way out of my skull (yeah, blatant Athena/Zeus reference there) after several people told me I should package my 'NaNoWriMo Pitfalls' posts in some way.  This is my answer to that.

Anyway, the idea here is to give tips and hints on how to survive this process we live and love and hate and tear our hair out over - writing toward publication.  I'm hoping to have some published authors drop by with guest posts, to beg some of my unpublished friends to wander through with thoughts of their own, and to fill in the gaps with my own thoughts, previous posts from my other blogs, and witty repartee*.

I hope you take the time to add yourself to the Survivors list over there on the right.  Stop by early and often.  You never know who might be dropping by.

*Your mileage may vary.  Witty repartee not guaranteed.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo Pitfall #7

Good morning, Everyone!  Today repost of old Pitfalls seems particularly poignant - even if you're not participating in the sprint to 50K.  Procrastination (aka lollygagging) can crop up anywhere.  Don't want to face the mound of dishes filling your sink?  Procrastinate.  Unsure of where your story is going?  Procrastinate.  I know I'm a master procrastinator from way back.  If it can be put off, I've put it off.  Hell, I'm probably doing it now...

And on that note, here's a link to the old 2009 post (if you want to read the comments) and here's the real thing:


As I may have said, Darling Daughter is also doing NaNo.  These posts are as much for her as for anyone.  Like any writer, she has her stumbling blocks, and like anyone new at anything, she thinks she's the only one.  After reading my Pitfall #6 post, we talked about the various things that can make a writer stumble during this race to finish a novel - or during any writing time - and she was dumbfounded to discover these Pitfalls aren't just things I thought might happen to someone else.  These Pitfalls have happened to me - this month even.  So, as you're reading this series of posts remember: You're not alone.

Now onward to NaNo Pitfall #7 - aka "Wow, I just remembered that I have to :insert procrastinatory item here:!"

We're writers.  We also have a million other things we have to do as human beings.  Laundry needs to get done.  We need to cook meals.  We have shopping and errands.  Some people have day jobs and others, like me, have internet businesses to maintain.  Add in homeschooling or kids' events or homework (either to do if you're still in school or to assist with if you're a parent), and the list of non-writing things requiring our attention can be staggering.

This month is no different.  Except when you're using those things to put off writing.

For instance, I had some stuff I legitimately had to do for my Amazon store.  True, it was stuff I'd put off and I should've done it sooner, especially since the deadline fell in November.  That was last weekend's blip in my writing schedule.  This weekend was another story.  You see, doing all that stuff made me realize that I had a bunch of other stuff I needed to do to make my store easier to work with - for me, not my customers.  Yesterday, I spent a good portion of my day screwing around with that.  It needed to be done...  Just not right this moment.  Certainly none of it was so crucial it couldn't wait until NaNo was over.

As I lay in bed last night lamenting my lack of words, it came to me.  This was yet another pitfall - not only in NaNo but for any writing we're trying to accomplish.  There's always something you can find to take the place of writing.  There are so many, in fact, I used to have a link to a site that listed all the things one can do instead of working on one's book.

Thinking about it now, I'm wondering if I should've made this a corollary to the other Pitfalls.  You see, the reason this push to do something else came up is because my brain is currently scrolling through the other Pitfalls.  Right now, I'm bouncing between "OMG, This Sucks!" and "Ack! I'm Lost!"

Enter "Wow!  I have something else I really should be doing!"

So, I've slapped myself around.  Today I will not being mucking around in the store, cleaning the house, doing yardwork, alphabetizing my socks, sorting my recipes, baking cookies, organizing my bookmarks...

Or sitting here thinking of other things to add to that growing list.

Today, I will write.  It may be several thousand crappy words and I may only succeed in getting myself more lost, but I will accomplish something writerly if it kills me.

Writerly?  Hmmm.... I never did sort through those last submissions and enter them into the database...

What's got you procrastinating today?  And what are you doing during this time of procrastination?

1 comment:

Silver James said...
I just wish I had the time to procrastinate! LOL You should package up all this advice, B.E. It's dead on!