Things I have learned from #AskAgent

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My favorite thing to do is to troll through the #askagent hash tag. Even if I don’t have a question to ask, I love to see what others are asking and the responses. It is very helpful to any writer and I learn something new on a weekly basis.

Below are some things I feel may be beneficial to others:

1. Patience is key

Agent Juliet Mushens discussed how the time from query to response can sometimes be a lengthy one. I also have many friends who have sent out queries and expect rapid fire response. Folks sometimes it can take up to 3 months. Be patient! Check out Den Patrick’s interview with Juiliet Mushens here: http://www.denpatrick.com/2013/03/juliet-mushens-do-and-donts.html?m=1

2. Mind your word count

11 year olds don’t want to read epic tales! Every #askagent I’ve seen usually has a word count question. I’m even guilty of asking once before! Check out Jennifer Laughran’s post on word count: http://literaticat.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html

3. Dialogue is key

Read your story out loud. Unrealistic dialogue kills a story and a lot of time this can be caught if you just read your story out loud or have someone read to you.

4. Stop worrying about platform

I have seen SEVERAL agents say this on #askagent. Write your book. It doesn’t matter if you have 1000 twitter followers, the best blog ever, and 1500 Facebook friends – if your book is crap, you are not getting an agent. Worry about establishing your platform after you tighten up that novel. (Now of course this advice is different for non-fiction)

What have you learned from #askagent? Share in the comments below:)

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Taking Time Off

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I have been writing non-stop since last June. I have outlined 3 books in a mystery series, 7 picture books, wrote one Adult Cont. Fiction, one NA Dystopian, and of course – I write medical consents for a living.

After I wrote “The End” on the last novel, I had physically couldn’t make myself look at anything else. Now, don’t get me wrong, my brain wanted to. I wanted to look at that novel and nitpick. I wanted to fret over ALL the words and why I wrote them. I was like a drug addict dependent on her words – I had to have them!

But I stopped myself. My head hurt, I was sleepy, and I think I needed sunlight:) I looked at my stack of books to be read, my gym membership, my family, and the beautiful sun outside this past weekend and knew I needed to take time off.

I am so happy I did.

When I looked at my novel Tuesday night, I had a light bulb moment. The perfect prologue came to my mind. I quickly wrote it down and then closed my computer. I have vowed not to look at the manuscript again until this weekend.

Sometimes we need to take time off from our babies. We need a break to bring clarity. I feel like that book was good but after this break – WATCH OUT! I’m going to make this MS great!

What are you working on and when did you get that moment of clarity?

(Also, Martin was the winner of the gift card.  Congrats!)

Falling In Love With Your Work (Why I Hate Mondays)

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I finished my second book and have outlined 3 more – I love the weekends!

My first book, truly showed me that I have “the goods.” Through writing this work, I proved to myself that I could craft ideas and experiences, put them on paper, and create something that I could be proud of. When I was writing and revising it, I approached each day like a kid glancing out the window for the ice cream truck – I could hardly wait.  I wanted to immerse myself in that world and see what the characters were saying.

In February, I started a new book.  Although in a completely different genre for me – I longed to be with the work more than the first one.  Whenever I put it away at night, I dreamed about it. Whenever I was at work, I would write down notes during my break period.  I was so possessive of it – not wanting anyone to touch the computer – I was really in love with that book.

That’s the best part of writing to me – falling in love with your work.  I believe you are doing a disservice to your WIP if you don’t immerse yourself in it at least once a week.  Allow it to carry you away, spend the time to hear it and watch how your writing takes off.  That’s why I love weekends – because it gives me at least one definite day where I can shut myself off from everyone and do that.

So that brings me back to why I hate Mondays. Mondays snap me back to reality. I like working, don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for my job and my house (really not trying to be living in a box). But I really miss my little worlds I create on the weekend; I miss how I felt like I had all the time in the world – until the alarm goes off Monday morning at 6am.

Reality can be a cruel thing at time.  My challenge to all writers this week is to find the time to fall in love with your work.  Also share in the comments how you keep the love alive during the week – that’s my struggle:)

*************Giveaway*****************************

Also, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. The box will not display on my page for WordPress related issues so click the link (it’s safe). The drawing for the Starbucks gift card has been extended to tonight – GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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400 Follower Milestone and Giveaway

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Earlier in the week I hit 400 followers. As I approached this milestone, I grew very reflective. I am still new to twitter. I joined in November of last year after talking to my different Nanowrimo pals – and I haven’t regretted the decision since!

In my 4 1/2 months on Twitter, I have dived headfirst into the writing community. I actively participate in all manner of #wordsprints and #wordwars and faithfully participate in #writeclub every Friday:)

In December, I learned about the world of contests. Through #pitchwars and #pitchmas I met a group of people that would help me understand pitches, loglines, betas, and CPs and made some good writerly friends in the process.

As I type this (on my blog – which also exists because of my twitter writer friends), I can honestly say that I am a much better writer today than I was 4 months ago. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Okay, now that the crying is over – it’s giveaway time!

In honor of my 400 follower milestone, I am giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card. That’s enough for maybe 2 frappuccinos:) Follow the instructions below (via the rafflecopter link) and I will announce the winner on my blog and twitter on Monday.

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If I had a Tardis

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There are 24 hours in a day.  If you think about it, this is a massive amount of seconds, minutes, and hours that gets whittled down daily based on our activities.  But the fact remains that we start each day with 24 hours at our disposal.

For me:

6a I wake up, deal with kids, prep for work, and get to work

815 I arrive at work.  I spend 8 1/2 hours here with the 1/2 being my lunch.

440p I begin my commute home

0540 I am usually home.   I will clean and cook for the family

0630 Usually when I try to have dinner ready

0700 try to take a walk with the family but due to the crazy weather this is usually TV or cleaning time (why am I always cleaning!)

0745-0800 getting the kids ready for bed

0800-1100 watching t, on the computer, random time wasting

1100-1130 trying to go to sleep

I initially wrote this out last summer when I was searching for time to write.  I updated it this weekend to reflect schedule changes.  I am a MPH student, so I didn’t put in “homework/studying time.” Now considering all of this, most people would say, you are over extended.  How can you possibly find time to write. As I look at this schedule now, I see all the time that I wasted.

If I had a Tardis, I would go back to last summer and make better use of my hours.  All that TV time would be whittled away.  I have a DVR! Why do I have the DVR, if I don’t take advantage of it.  And really, a lot of times I am just watching reruns of Friends, Big Bang Theory, Golden Girls, and Doctor Who.  I could be writing.  I could be exercising.

The time to finish my novels, has always been there – I just choose not to utilize it.  I mean, I sit at my desk for lunch and usually read People magazine online.  The time that I’m prepping for dinner, I usually have a quiet 30 minutes where no one is downstairs and something is simmering and doesn’t require my attention.
I am full of excuses and putting it on paper really spelled it out.  There is no excuse for me to not write.

The time has always been there.

If I had a Tardis, I would love to recover all of my wasted hours, but alas – it ain’t happening! What I plan to do, is to be a better steward of my time going forward.

*photo courtesy of springfieldpunx.blogspot.com

 

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Editing Out Loud

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So I recently read an article by a blogger/writer that advised authors not to read your stories out loud.

The author wrote that stories are meant to be read on paper and that it would not benefit you to hear your story read.

I’m gonna have to disagree with that one.

Having my story read to me, read at me, spoken OUT LOUD has helped me immensely.  I have been able to:

1.  Edit

Even after having several eyes read over stuff, you will still miss things.  But after downloading the software to have the computer voice read my novel to me, I have caught so much.  Missed periods, double words, word that should be plural, etc.

 2.  Check Pacing

Having my story read out loud has helped me to detect dragging passages.  When it feels like the computer lady is just going and going but nothing is happening.  Yep that’s a pacing issue and I need to tighten it up.

 3.  See What Works

I detected something the other day where I needed to add a few paragraphs of explanation.  Again this is a passage that I have read through several times but just mentally skipped over this part.

Now, I am not a paid endorser of any particular software.  I am currently using a free version of Free Natural Reader (FYI on the free version you only get the computer voice, the cooler natural voice is on the paid version).  Ashley Farley recently mentioned the voice/dictation option for MAC OS.  Check her post here: http://ashleyfarley.net/2013/02/23/how-do-i-edit/.  Finally, if you won Nanowrimo or participated in Nanowrimo you can get a discount on Dragon text to speech software (see here: http://shop.nuance.com ). FYI if you won, the coupon code for half-off has expired:(

In the end, on this journey to becoming an author you will learn what works for you and what doesn’t.  For me, hearing my novel is very beneficial.

I am part of the “I don’t like Mondays!” blog hop.  Check out other bloggers who are joining me by clicking the button below:MondaysBlogHopButton_zpse6a5f098